These two factors are key to satisfactory online customer help

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Customers have specific expectations for assistance.

Customers seeking assistance are looking for two specific features in their experience.

According to “2023 State of E-commerce Customer Service,” a new study from contact center technology provider Simplr, fast response and human intervention are critical components of any e-commerce customer assistance program. The study is based exclusively on product-specific, pre-sale inquiries conducted via email and chatbot.

Results include:

Email

During the course of the study, 40% of pre-sale emails were never answered. Simplr analysis indicates that brands that had email response times within 12 hours had higher customer satisfaction scores than brands that responded later.

Only 3% of companies included in the study responded to an inquiry email in less than 15 minutes. Other figures for email response times included:

  • 15 minutes to one hour 8%.
  • One to five hours 17%.
  • Five to 12 hours 16%.
  • Twelve to 24 hours 34%.
  • More than 24 hours 22%.

Chatbots

Of the chatbot interactions with human intervention that occurred during the course of the study, 40% were rated as “very good” or “exceptional.” In addition, 72% were rated as “likely” or “very likely” to cause a repurchase from that brand, and 46% of chatbot interactions were rated “easy” or “very easy” for effort. For live chat, human intervention resulted in higher satisfaction, effort, and repurchase rates across the board.

According to Simplr, the pre-sale questions used in the study were not complex, but not as simple as a post-sale request. A typical question used for a chatbot interaction was “Does this product come in other colors?” In chatbot interactions without human intervention, the chatbot did not understand the question 71% of the time and customers had to repeat themselves two or more times in 36% of these interactions.

Other interesting findings include:

  • More than 68% of brands included in the study offered additional resources to customers during their shopping experience.
  • Satisfaction, effort and repurchase rates were all higher when a human was involved.
  • Companies that had a human join the chat within 30 seconds had higher satisfaction rates.
  • Higher satisfaction scores resulted when a customer didn’t have to repeat themselves more than once.

[Read more: Survey: This feature makes consumers more open to chatbots]

In November 2022, Simplr hired third-party mystery shop firm Sinclair Metrics to anonymously evaluate the digital customer support experiences of 441 e-commerce brands. The results in this study come from 882 total mystery shops (441 chat, 441 email). Shoppers were asked to rate their satisfaction, likelihood of repurchase, level of effort, and other factors that influence an online customer support experience.

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