On Twitter, customers expect a response within an hour. But according to LivePerson’s new Connecting with Customers report, the average online consumer demands help much faster. If they can’t find what they need within 76 seconds, they’ll go elsewhere. That means online retailers have just over a minute to win — or lose — any potential customer.
What Online Customers Want
In the report, we see that consumers have come to expect a high level of customer service and experience, though they don’t always receive it. Almost half, 49% of consumers, have trouble navigating websites, and 33% have a hard time getting help or customer service. But more than easy to navigate websites and straightforward customer service, online customers expect help to arrive quickly. Speed and efficiency was the number one factor in a great online experience for 73% of consumers. Fail to make your online experience quick and easy, and you may lead potential customers elsewhere.
There’s good news for retailers that are able to get online customer service right, though: the report indicates that 78% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to companies with adequate support. And 84% say that just one positive experience could turn them in to a lifetime customer. What does adequate support look like? 88% think that live chat improves the digital experience. Support is most important during high impact moments including when they have questions about a product, trouble making a purchase, or a post-purchase question.
But support doesn’t necessarily mean a massive FAQ list. Increasingly, customers want help from a real, live person. Even though websites are offering more sophisticated automation, customers often still need help from humans. Provide customer service with a human touch, and you’re more likely to build a loyal customer base: 60% of consumers are more likely to purchase if they get help from a human being. But don’t make them wait for it too long: today’s consumer will only wait 76 seconds to get help online before moving on.
“The digital era is massively de-personalizing, so anytime brands can engage their customers with a more personalized, human touch, it makes a meaningful difference,” says Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer at LivePerson. “Our customers continuously push us to develop innovative ways to help them connect with consumers, and this research validates our belief that no matter how connected today’s consumers are, they still crave real-time, human communication with brands online, and they want it on the go, from the channel they are in.”
What Builds Customer Loyalty — And Why Companies Can’t Survive Without It
Good customer service not only breeds sales and loyalty, it improves your reputation, too. Customers today talk, online, in person, and in reviews, about the experience you deliver. Offer a positive one, and you’ll improve your reputation, attracting friends, family, neighbors, and even complete strangers that your happy customer has shared their experience with. But a negative experience, including difficult navigation or slow help response, negates all of those potential new customers. That’s why Forrester Research senior analyst Megan Burns calls customer service “absolutely an essential moment of truth for companies.”
According to LivePerson’s study, consumers want to see websites with good customer service: ones that offer ease of browsing, a positive experience, and customer ratings and reviews. These are the factors that retain customers online and keep them coming back for more. But demonstrate negative consumer issues, and they’ll bounce to the next retailer before you know they’re gone. Unexpected delivery costs, a lack of information, and security concerns will send customers running to your competitors.
Inc. recommends that companies build good customer service and nurture customer loyalty by:
- Hiring ideal managers
- Catering to clientele
- Acting on customers’ terms
- Personalizing assistance
- Using customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Listening to social media conversations and online reviews
- Delivering on-the-go service with mobile support
- Working proactively to solve problems before they become complaints
- Localizing support, offering in-person exchanges or easy to understand call center operators
- Making it easy to leave if the customer truly wants out
- Staying in touch even after the problem is solved
Customer loyalty is just good business. Build a loyal consumer base with strong customer service, rapid response, and an easy, efficient experience, and consumers will reward you with their repeat business — and a great reputation.