Less than 8% of retailers respond to customer queries across all channels

The omni-channel environment of the retail industry is raising customer service expectations, but very few retailers are responding to consumers on all of the channels they offer

Less than 8% of retailers are responding to customer queries across all four of the most common communications channels, according to research.

A study by retail software firm Eptica found only 7.5% of retailers respond to customers through web, email, Twitter and Facebook, and only 2.5% of retailers are providing a consistent answer to customers across all four channels.

But the increase of omni-channel shopping, whereby consumers interact with a retailer across several platforms – such as in-store, online and by mobile – is increasing the expectations customers have about their shopping experiences, and 69% of consumers said their expectations are rising.

Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-founder of Eptica, said 93% of modern fickle customers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if they receive a good customer experience, and so retailers should do more to respond to queries submitted through digital channels.

“Consumers today demand a high-quality experience from retailers – whatever channel they use to make contact. They value having a real-time conversation, yet too many retailers are letting them down, settling for average service at best, rather than delivering an experience that will drive long-term loyalty,” he said.

Many retailers are struggling to keep up with queries submitted through single channels, with companies admitting they are unable to answer 46% of the queries submitted over email, web, Twitter and Facebook.

The number of queries addressed across each channel has dropped year-on-year, with 39% of queries answered on Facebook, 20% than in 2016, and a drop in answered Tweets from 45% to 44%.

The number of web queries firms are answering has also dropped since 2016 from 65% of questions answered to 62% in 2017.

Consumers are becoming more dissatisfied with how retailers are addressing complaints and queries – only 47% of consumers said they have been happy with their experience interacting with a retailer through web, email, social media and chat.

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Customers are increasingly expecting retailers to provide a customised experience, including delivering a consistent experience across all channels, and 77% of customers said they want to be able to switch channels during a conversation with a retailer.  

However, 58% of retailers provide consumers with different answers to the same questions depending on the channel customers used to interact with the brand.

Younger consumers would also prefer for store staff to be aware of what they have researched or purchased through online channels, but 41% of customers feel retail staff do not have the knowledge or information needed to answer their queries.

Many argue that the retail space is still in the “dial-up” stage of delivering a consistent omni-channel experience, which leads to inconsistency across channels and unhappy customers.

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