Looks like shoppers are finding cyberspace a friendlier place to shop than retail space. And it's not just because they can order books or DVDs from a Web site at 2 a.m. They apparently feel they get better customer service online.
It may be only one of several factors consumers consider when deciding where to shop, but customer service clearly matters. In a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation, a whopping 99 percent of shoppers said customer service was at least somewhat important in their purchase decision.
Though retailers insist they've been working to boost service, it appears their efforts are falling short. When asked about their most recent customer experience, traditional shoppers were only lukewarm. Just 16 percent were extremely satisfied, while an additional 51 percent were very satisfied. Online shoppers, in contrast, were highly content with the treatment they received. Cyber-shoppers were almost three times as likely to be extremely satisfied with their customer service experience (44 percent) than traditional shoppers. An additional 45 percent said they were very satisfied.
"Many retailers are putting renewed emphasis on customer service, but shoppers are telling them that even more needs to be done," says John Theiss, vice president, retail industries, at American Express Establishment Services.What do these fussy shoppers expect? Turns out, it's just a little respect. According to the survey, customers simply want retail employees to be courteous (67 percent); to treat shoppers like valued customers (65 percent); and to be available to answer questions and provide help (61 percent). But clerks should note that there's a fine line between "available" and pushy; the consumers' top gripe was being pressured to buy merchandise (69 percent).