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UK consumers expect ‘bricks and clicks’ integration

By Retail Technology | Friday April 19 2013

New survey finds customers are seeking consistency, not complications, and reveals their pet peeves from interactions across the platforms and locations of retail brands

Shoddy service, redundant questions and disconnected processes are leading customers to abandon purchases, switch suppliers and terminate contracts, according to a survey commissioned by Redwood Software
Based on a survey of 2,000 UK consumers carried out by OnePoll in March 2013 about their real-life and virtual interactions with retailers, service providers and financial organisations, the research revealed customers increasingly expect companies’ online and physical storefronts to be integrated, delivering a seamless end-to-end experience.

For example, waiting for a sales assistant to physically check stock room inventory made almost half (44.6%) of respondents furious. More so, an assistant’s inability to tell a shopper whether a desired item was in-stock online, or in another store, was also cited as frustrating (40.4%).

Stock outages and returns make lasting impression
When asked about shopping habits, 83.2% of shoppers were leaving stores (and 72.5% leaving online marketplaces) because they weren’t easily able to find what they were looking for. Other significant instore and online shopping annoyances included:
  • Going to a store to purchase something, only to discover that that item was out of stock (51.75%); 37.3% were similarly annoyed when the same thing happened with online purchases;
  • The hassle of returning unwanted purchases online (57%);
  • The hassle of returning unwanted purchases in-store (33.35%);
  • Experiencing a delay in money being returned to a shopper’s account following a return (46.9%);
  • Not receiving acknowledgement from a company that a returned item was received (39.25%). 
Even customer service desks, meant to address issues such as these, came under fire, where 55.2% of those surveyed reported annoyance at having to complete an automated telephone system by entering their personal information, only to be asked the same/more questions by an operator. Similarly, 55.45% were annoyed when repeating information to multiple people or departments across transfers.

High stakes for major brand retailers
According to the survey, stakes are high for brands to start delivering streamlined and efficient end-to-end service to their consumers. Two thirds of consumers said they had terminated online purchases because they took too long (66%) or were too complicated (60.8%). More worryingly for brands, over half of respondents (58.25%) have terminated contracts or changed suppliers because of continued service failings.
“It’s often the little problems that cause the biggest issues,” said Tijl Vuyk, chief executive of enterprise process automation specialist Redwood Software. “In a time where customer loyalty is dead, brand reputation is critical and speedy service is imperative, it’s surprising how many businesses are ignoring these disconnected little things. Providing a seamless customer experience, from pre-sale to billing, sounds obvious, but looking at the number of frustrations customers are regularly experiencing is worrying.”
Vuyk added: “Process automation can help businesses achieve efficiency and cost savings, and essentially deliver customer satisfaction. Businesses can’t afford to keep losing customers – they need to be doing everything within their power to keep them engaged and spending. Any barriers preventing this need to be eliminated, and quickly.”

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