Nearly three quarters (71%) of global online consumers expect to be able to access help within five minutes, and 48% will take their business elsewhere unless help is forthcoming within the expected timeframe, according to a new report commissioned by the cloud-based chat provider LivePerson.
The Connecting with Customers Report surveyed over 5,700 online consumers from the UK, USA, Australia, France, Germany and Italy to identify how a change in consumer behaviour is leading to a gap between the expectation of online service levels and the reality of what organisations are able to deliver.
The research reveals, when it comes to online shopping, there are three distinct levels of consumers – dependent shoppers (global 28%, UK 27%), actively requiring additional help; semi-dependent shoppers (global 56%, UK 54%), who are largely self-sufficient; and self-sufficient shoppers (global 16%, UK 19%), who view themselves as advisers. Of all the countries surveyed, Italy has significantly more dependent shoppers than any other at 46%, while Australia has the least number of self-sufficient shoppers at 10%.
Whilet more consumers are happier seeking out help in-store than online, 83% (global and UK respectively) admit they need some form of support during their online journey, said researchers. In fact, 51% will give up immediately or after just one attempt to seek help before an online purchase is abandoned. German (57%), UK (55%) and Australian (54%) consumers were the most likely to give up while the Italians (36%) and French (49%) showed the most perseverance.
Immediate and real-time access to information everywhere and anywhere is fuelling a change in how customers make purchases, with nearly 40% now spending as much online as they do in-store, said LivePerson. Germany (53%) and the UK (47%) display the most online spend and Italy (27%) and France (31%) the least.
Key findings from the Connecting with Customers Report include:
- Speed of abandonment: seventy one per cent (UK 73%) expect to be able to access help when purchasing online within five minutes, while 31% (UK 32%) expect this help to be immediate. Speed of information was less important to German and Australian users than UK, USA, Italian or French. If this support wasn’t forthcoming within their expected time frame, 48% would go elsewhere or abandon the purchase altogether – with the highest figures in the UK (58%) and lowest in Italy (39%)
- Customer service expectations: when asked what makes a great customer service experience 82% (UK 84%) believe getting their issue resolved quickly is most important, with German users (90%) placing the most emphasis on this. Fifty six per cent (UK 58%) believe resolving the issue in a single interaction makes for great service, with the highest percentage in the USA (66%)
- Help seeking behaviours: globally, 83% of online users admit they need some form of support during their online journey. The UK was the least likely to seek out help (13%), while Italy was the most likely (43%)
- Chat on demand: fifty nine per cent of global users (UK 60%) would like to have more choice in how they contact online brands with 93% (UK 93%) seeing real time help being of use in at least one online shopping scenario
Tony Heyworth, international marketing director of LivePerson, said: “There seems to be a perception among consumers and businesses the web is a self-service environment. But the reality is online consumers expect and need to find the same levels of help and customer service as they would in a physical store.
“One thing’s for sure, there are a growing number of consumers out there, screaming at their computer, smart phone or tablet that often feel they have no option but to give up in frustration, abandon their purchase and hop to another website. To retain customers and really improve customer loyalty, online businesses need to be able to identify the levels and type of help that consumers require, based on their behaviours, and respond accordingly.”