Companies now recognise the importance of an online presence and display their products with so-called "brochure" sites. Many are also selling online using e-commerce packages rented from service providers. A lot of effort is going into producing Web sites in glorious colour with 3D animation, but when customers want to communicate with companies they send an e-mail.
How often have you sent a specific query, only to have your e-mail left unanswered?
Customer support via e-mail interaction is currently failing. In fact, a huge amount of enquiries are either lost or misdirected - and thiswill inevitably lead to dissatisfied online customers. To quote Forrester Research, "E-business is becoming less about technology and more about the basic principles of good service."
The other side of customer service is getting to know your customers. All customer enquiries are potentially an invaluable source of information.
E-mail enquiries generally don't get saved in a database for companies to understand their market and improve their products and services. Building a database of questions and answers means that information can become an asset to the company.
Small companies hoping to make a profit this Christmas would do well to learn from these facts and ensure they have effective software to manage customer contacts and actually prove there is a someone at the end of every e-mail enquiry.
Greg Coyle is CEO and co-founder of Sevina Technologies UK