San Francisco—Insurance customers won't tolerate difficult navigating, endless loops that prevent transactions or other Web site challenges, according to survey results released by San Francisco-based Tealeaf Technology Inc. According to the survey, conducted by Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive Inc., about nine out of 10 consumers conducting transactions online (within a number of industries) have experienced problems. This year's survey highlights online consumer intolerance, as 42% of those who have experienced problems when conducting online transactions have switched to a competitor or abandoned the transaction entirely, and another 52% who have experienced bad customer service from a company's contact center, following an online issue, have completely stopped doing business with the company.

eCommerce continues to grow—research from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. estimates 2007 online retail sales at $157.4 billion and expects this number to grow to $271.6 billion (or 9% of retail sales overall) by 2011 ("US Retail eCommerce Forecast"). But, this growth camouflages underlying issues. "We're in a 'perfect storm' as users' dependency on ecommerce grows and their patience for bad online experiences wears thin," says Rebecca Ward, chief executive officer of Tealeaf. "More than a decade into eCommerce, we're increasingly savvy online consumers, and we're no longer willing to put up with experiences that do not live up to our expectations. Companies doing business online must pay attention to their customers' experiences and help them to succeed, or risk losing them entirely. The only way to understand issues, improve conversion rates and better serve customers is to have visibility into everything that happens on your online channel."

Some problems experienced by consumers across shopping, banking, travel and insurance include:

  • 34% received error messages.
  • 37% difficulty navigating.
  • 30% difficulty logging in.
  • 22% endless loops block transactions.
  • 29% insufficient, incorrect or confusing information.
  • 21% search function not functioning properly.
  • 20% were automatically kicked off the page.

As problems persist, consumer backlash is permeating the online channel. A lowered cost of switching online merchants—alternate providers are just one click away—has radically changed shopping behavior, according to Tealeaf. Often, companies are subjected to drastic consequences when they fail to deliver, illustrated by the 42% of online consumers who abandoned or switched to a competitor after transaction issues.
Failed transactions also have a significant impact on those consumers who do not immediately switch, but still try to buy from a company after experiencing them. Fifty-three percent of online users with issues would contact customer service. Of those, almost half (49%) did not have their issue resolved. In fact, 68% of consumers did not feel that the service agent was knowledgeable about the Web site, and 70% did not believe the agent understood their particular issue.

Bad customer service received from contact centers led to a second wave of abandonment, resulting in major business impacts—about half of those who experienced bad customer service from a company's contact center decided to stop doing business with the company entirely (52%), and a full 76% either stopped doing business entirely, decreased the amount of business they do with the company or lodged a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

"The risk of abandonment is escalating not only after initial online transaction problems, but also for those who try to remain loyal, because contact centers are fundamentally ill-equipped because they lack the visibility to adequately address the concerns of Web site customers," Ward says.

Source: Tealeaf Technology Inc.

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