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« Traditional Advertising and Your Web Site | Main | Event Marketing & Promotion After Your Event »

The Mystery of Online Customer Satisfaction

In the two weeks since my visit to Epcot, I have yet to experience an equivalent level of customer service.  Customer service is paramount in any business and especially online.  For the purpose of this post I’ll look at customer service from a web site usability perspective. You constantly need to ask yourself “are your users satisfied with the online experience you are providing them?”

One of the most difficult services to provide online is customer service.  In over ten years of developing web sites, I cannot recall seeing a customer complaint that specifically refers to the usability of a site. This has little to do with the level of development or usability used.  If a user is unhappy with their experience at your web site they probably aren’t going to say anything about it.  In most cases they just won’t return to your web site or use your online service.

Users Rarely Indicate Dissatisfaction
Your users might not always be telling you they’re not happy.  Here are some interesting statistics I found in reference to customer service in the offline world.  The data comes from an older report but I believe many of the problems to hold true today :

  • 96% of consumers do not complain about rude or discourteous service.
  • 90% or more of consumers who aren’t happy with the level of service will not buy or come back again.
  • The cost to acquire a new customer versus keeping an old one is five times greater.

Source: Technical Assistance Research Programs (TARP)

When you take this data and apply it to the Internet far few people are likely to complain. It is far easier not to visit a web site than follow up with the company and try to resolve the problem.

A Place To Start
Make sure you go out of your way to ensure your users are happy.  One of the easiest places to start is with emails you’ve collected.  You should be conducting follow up on almost everything you do.  It can be anything from a product purchase follow up to answering a complaint.  Both positive and negative emails are a great opportunity to gain valuable insight from your user. You can make use of automation to collect survey data and other valuable information.  Use that information to improve your online experience.

A Quick Second Chance
There was one very important piece of actionable information that TARP provided.  95% of unhappy customers will do business again with you if their issue is resolved immediately. Your window of opportunity might be narrow and short, but you still have time to do sometime. Use the speed of technology to quickly recover from a customer service issue.

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