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Small businesses losing over $3 billion in sales due to poor service

- October 30, 2020 3 MIN READ

A recent report by LivePerson has discovered retailers could lose up to $3.17bn in sales as customers ‘walk away’ or abandon shopping carts due to poor service. The survey also found contactless store experiences, communication, convenience, speed and safety are top priorities for customers.

Better customer service key to retail’s COVID-19 rebound

With Christmas fast approaching, the LivePerson Customer Conversation Report has found that poor customer service has been letting retailers down during COVID-19. Thirty-eight per cent of Australians say they were not satisfied with their most recent retail customer service experience and 7 out of ten (71 per cent) have abandoned an online purchase at checkout in the past 12 months amounting to an estimated $3.17 billion in lost revenue.

LivePerson found that 63 per cent of Aussies missed retail shopping a lot or a little during COVID-19 and 86 per cent feel that physical storefronts are still important when making retail purchases, but only 48 per cent believe that we’ll be ‘shopping as normal’ by this time next year.  Seven in ten Australians say their concerns about coronavirus transmission makes them worried about shopping in-store. So it should come as no surprise 82 per cent now rate ‘contactless shopping’ as important.

Here’s why online retailers are losing sales

When asked specifically about their online customer service experiences and why they abandoned purchases at checkout, the results are sobering for retailers:

  • 42 per cent have been unhappy with delivery details or options
  • 34 per cent want to do more research before making a purchase
  • 30 per cent have been unhappy with the price
  • 20 per cent have not been able to find everything they need
  • 17 per cent have been unable to have simple questions answered easily online.

COVID shaping customer expectations

Commenting on the data, APAC Head of Customer Engagement at LivePerson, Kate Sterling, said that COVID-19 has disrupted the retail sector and increased customer expectations, but in too many cases these aren’t being met.

“Customers now hold much more power. They are more judicious about what they buy, they are buying more online, and they expect their questions to be answered in real-time, wherever they are and through whatever channel they prefer.

“Consumers are far more comfortable engaging with brands through new channels than many brands think. They’re already ready. They’re already doing it, and that’s the gap that retailers need to fill in order to gain a competitive advantage.”

It’s not just retail that could improve customer experience

When looking beyond the retail sector, 55 per cent of Australians believe the customer service of most companies could be improved. In particular, during the pandemic:
  • 35 per cent haven’t been able to find the information they need online
  • 27 per cent have been on hold for too long while 19% had their call go answered
  • 25 per cent haven’t been able to get the answers they need

Interestingly, Victorians (who have experienced Australia’s toughest lockdown measures to date) are the most positive about the future of customer service with 47 per cent saying they believe the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately lead to better retail customer service experience from brands compared to 39 per cent nationally.

Technology is changing the face of customer service

The study found the pandemic has accelerated customer adoption of digital tools and technology as part of their shopping experience. Less than a third (30 per cent)  of Australians now prefer ‘in-person’ customer service (regional average was 23 per cent) when they have a question they need answered. When asked what they have become more comfortable with during the pandemic:

  • 47 per cent of Australians said shopping online
  • 1 in 5 (21 per cent) Australians said using messaging channels to speak to brands
  • 18 per cent said speaking with an AI agent
  • 17 per cent said using QR codes

The road to recovery

When asked ‘which of the following should retailers provide more of’ people said:
  • employing more locally based customer service agents that have local knowledge (41 per cent)
  • improving the range of communication channels available (34 per cent)
  • providing curb-side pickup options (25 per cent)
  • using technology to allow questions to be answered in store by virtual assistants (24 per cent)

“Businesses can’t control the pandemic, but they can improve their approach to customer care,” said Sterling. “Australian consumers want a mix of physical and digital shopping experiences that prioritise communication, convenience and speed, alongside safety. The retailers that will do well this Christmas and, in the years to come, are those who care about customer experience and use technology to augment a personal approach.”

You can read the full LivePerson Customer Conversation Report here LivePersonInsights.com.

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