Online customer service departments may be dealing with up to five times more emails in the pre-Christmas run up than at any other time of the year.

The two weeks before Christmas will be a busy one as anxious customers contact retailer’s customer service departments to see whether their purchases are going to turn up in time for the big day.

With the increase in broadband penetration and online sales continuing to rise last year, 2006 is expected to be a bumper one for e-tailers.

Many customers will shopping online for the first time this year, and it’s important for e-tailors to ensure that this is a positive experience, as disappointed customers may be reluctant to shop with that retailer again. 

Good online customer service can be beneficial to both retailers and customers - customers can be saved the hassle of calling busy help lines, while effective online service can ease the pressure on contact centres.

Investment in online customer service solutions technology can pay off for retailers in a number of ways:

• Cost reduction: The cost of the average customer interaction by telephone is estimated to be between 20 and 40 times more expensive that a web self-service interaction.

• Minimising burden of email by grouping and automatically diverting to most appropriate customer service staff, as well as taking pressure off contact centre staff.

• Using software to help customer get answers more quickly will pay off in terms of customer loyalty.

• Good online customer service can produce leads and opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.

The UK market for Online Customer Service Solutions is now growing exponentially. E-consultancy research suggested that this market grew to £120 million in 2005.

Further Reading:
E-consultancy's Online Customer Sevice Solutions Buyers Guide

Graham Charlton

Published 30 October, 2006 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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