Festive failings in UK customer service

Festive failings in UK customer service

Published on: December 11, 2015
Author: Derek Lewis

As every retailer knows, a good Christmas can make the difference between success and failure. This is particularly true in the UK, with research from ING finding that Britons are the most generous present purchasers in the world, and expect to spend an average of £294 (US$446) on gifts this Christmas. By contrast American shoppers are aiming to spend £250 ($382) according to the survey.

Clearly the stakes are high, and delivering fast, responsive customer service and a superior experience are key parts of attracting and retaining shoppers in the run up to December 25th. To find out how retailers are faring, Eptica carried out consumer research on Cyber Monday (November 30) to gauge the mood amongst shoppers in both the UK and the US. In this previous blog we discussed the key trends in the United States.

In this post we will focus on the UK results of the 2015 Eptica Retail Black Friday Customer Experience Study in which there were three main findings:

1. Getting to the right answers is becoming more difficult
Being able to find basic information online is crucial to turning browsers into buyers. Whether it is around delivery times, costs or returns policies, if websites don’t provide the right answers to customer queries consumers may well go elsewhere. Yet the number of UK shoppers that complain of not being able to find information is rising dramatically. In 2014 7% said they found it impossible or extremely difficult to find information on retailers’ websites – yet in 2015 this had trebled to 21%.

This has two consequences – as mentioned above, consumers may just head to rivals to complete their shopping. Alternatively they could contact the retailer via email, social media or chat, unnecessarily adding to the volume and cost of incoming interactions at the busiest time for customer service teams. By investing in web self-service systems that make it easy for consumers to ask questions online in their own words and get fast, accurate answers, retailers can benefit both consumers and their customer service teams, reducing the number of basic queries they receive.

2. Customers are dissatisfied with service online and offline
There is widespread frustration with customer service levels on both sides of the Atlantic. One third (33%) of British consumers and 35% of those in the US are unhappy with the online experience, a figure that rises to 37% in store in the UK, and 40% in the US.

In comparison, just over a quarter (27%) of British shoppers were extremely satisfied with the service they received in store, with 29% saying the same about online service. Essentially this means that both of these channels have more unhappy than happy customers using them – hardly likely to drive repeat business or positive comments on social media.

3. The ever-extending shopping season
The last few years has seen Black Friday grow in importance in the UK, and this year over £1.1 billion was spent on the day itself. However, it shouldn’t mask the fact that many British consumers are ignoring both Black Friday and Cyber Monday and are shopping at other times.

While 24% bought items online on Black Friday and 12% on Cyber Monday, 49% hadn’t made any purchases before the end of November. 17% had bought items in store on Black Friday, while 63% had not yet made any purchases on the High Street at all.

In fact, a fifth (20%) said they hadn’t yet started their festive shopping, with a further 13% completing under a quarter of their intended purchases. 9% of organised UK respondents had finished shopping, with another 29% having completed over three quarters.

Simply focusing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday risks missing out on the large number of shoppers looking to buy at other times. Our findings show that for retailers, the Peak season is much more a marathon than a sprint, requiring resources all the way up to Christmas Eve – and beyond to the Boxing Day sales.

To read more about the US research, simply click here


An infographic illustrating the 2015 Eptica Retail Black Friday Customer Experience Study is available here.

Tags: Black Friday, Boxing Day, Christmas, Consumer, Customer engagement, Customer experience, Customer Service, Cyber Monday, ecommerce, Eptica, Holidays, ING, online shopping, retail, self-service, Shopping, Social media, Thanksgiving
Categories: Chat, Contact Center, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Customer Service, E-commerce, Email Management, Multichannel Customer Service, Retail, Self-service, Social Media

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