A recent survey of 25 top e-commerce sites revealed a lack of real-time customer service resulting in poor conversion of interest to purchase. Conducted by Net Effect Systems, an e-commerce solutions vendor in North Hollywood, Calif., the survey revealed that 67% of online purchases were never completed. In addition, only 6% of people who visited the e-commerce sites even tried to make a purchase. "The irony is that the primary benefit of online shopping -- customer service -- is being undermined by a lack of real-time purchase assistance for potential e-buyers," says Julie Shoenfeld, CEO, Net Effect Systems. "Hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars in potential sales are being left in those abandoned shopping carts and e-buyers are going away dissatisfied every day." Net Effect suggests that e-commerce companies ask the following questions when determining whether or not their customer service systems are up to snuff:
- - Do we greet new arrivals in a way that will enable us to recognize them on subsequent visits?
- Do we offer service choices that logically move customers, based on how much assistance they need, from automated to personal service?
- Do we have a system that effectively tracks customer events?
- Is our knowledge base complete and accessible by our support and telephone staff?
- Are our shopping carts "smart," that is, will they give the customer quick, easy access to service tools as soon as a purchase is made? For example, when an item is selected, a "smart" cart might ask if the purchase is a gift and arrange wrapping and separate shipment.