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Online Shoppers Still Want The Human Touch

Online shoppers say they would buy more products if they could speak to a customer service representative when they are considering a purchase. According to a survey conducted by NFO Interactive Inc., a Greenwich, Conn.-based online market research and Web site evaluation firm, nearly 35% of 2,321 recent online shoppers said they would buy more if they could interact real time with a sales person from an e-commerce site. The survey also revealed that of those online users who have not yet purchased a product online, 13.7% would if they could speak directly with a customer service representative. "Customer service is key to success," said Charles Hamlin, NFO president. "Introducing live sales people in the sales process -- either through online chat or direct telephone as in conventional catalog sales -- would serve to boost online sales. As manufacturers consider automating their channels, they should not lose sight of the effectiveness of personal contact." The survey also revealed that online shoppers are clearly looking to the Internet for information on prospective auto purchases. Forty-seven percent said they would use auto-oriented Web sites to gather information on dealer invoice/pricing information, 45% said they would use the Web sites to find independent evaluations and reviews, and 10.6% said they would consider purchasing a car online without ever visiting the dealership. This is crucial news for the automotive industry, considering that the online community is comprised of more than 37% of U.S. households and controls more than 50% of U.S. household income.

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