What are the biggest challenges retail customer services face in 2021? How can they overcome these obstacles to deliver what customers want? In their latest press release, FM Outsource shares valuable data that might help retail services strategize around online customer experiences.

Getting customer service right is crucial for the survival of individual retailers

FM Outsource surveyed 300 consumers across the UK to find out how online purchasing habits influenced the retail industry. Unsurprisingly, over 64% of the respondents did more than half of their shopping online in 2020. FM Outsource predicts the number of people that exclusively buy online will increase through 2021 and beyond. Retailers should, therefore, consider enhancing their current virtual service platforms to ensure they can accommodate this footfall.

But what data informs retailers’ business decisions? What quality standards should they keep in mind when designing online customer strategies?

1 in 5 customers think online customer service is poor or unhelpful

According to FM Outsource, most of the retailers failed to fulfil shoppers’ expectations during 2020. Sadly, nearly 1 in 5 (19.16%) customers rated an online customer service experience not higher than 5 out of 10. What’s even more alarming is that 83.78% of customers would stop visiting a vendor again after experiencing poor customer service.

This is a clear indicator of how seriously customers take retail services. Needless to say, it spells out the importance of getting customer service right for individual retailers to survive. What vendors can do to improve their general performance and create a better online customer experience?

Integrating contact options according to customer’s expectations

74% of consumers believe that live chat should be available on a retailer’s website

When it comes to preferred methods of contact, over half of the respondents (63%) opted for phone or email as their starting point. On the other hand, 31.27% of those surveyed stated they would use live chat features over emails or calls. Moreover, 74% of consumers also believed that live chat should be available on a retailer’s website.

Keeping customers on hold. How long is too long?

The FM Outsource survey found that 62.83% of the respondents expect an online service response time within 90 minutes, with 40% expecting contact within half an hour. Interestingly, 14.75% of customers think it could take up to a day to get a response and 5% do not think of response time at all. With regards to average response times when using online customer service tools, it appears that consumers are more forgiving when it comes to web-dedicated channels such as live chat. This demonstrates the development of consumer literacy and knowledge when it comes to online customer service tools and the need for retailers to implement them on their website.

The numbers shaping retail customer service strategies in 2021

The vast majority of survey respondents (89.97%) believe that in 2021 retail customer service is going to be more important than ever. FM Outsource invites retailers to keep the following numbers in mind when creating online service strategies this year:

  • 64% of consumers do more than half their shopping online
  • 1 in 5 customers think online customer service is poor or unhelpful
  • Over 30% of customers expect to use live chat for online retailers
  • Two-thirds of respondents expect a live chat response within 90 minutes
  • 90% of consumers think customer service is more important than ever in 2021
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