Businesses must invest in their online customer service as COVID-19 has driven up consumer demand for more virtual support.
A LivePerson Customer Conversation Report found that 55 per cent of Australians said that they believed the online customer service of most companies could be improved. This includes providing more information online or having shorter hold periods on calls.
“What normally happened before COVID-19 was that people might browse online and then go into store. But COVID-19 has forced consumers to purchase online without visiting a store,” said Kate Sterling, Head of Customer Engagement APAC at LivePerson.
“There’s a huge job by retailers to therefore make sure they provide all the information consumers need online to drive sales and generate more online. Our view is that there’s a lot of work to be done from many brands to make sure the right level of detail is provided.”
The Report also found that 71 per cent of Australians have abandoned an online purchase at the checkout in the last 12 months. This is an estimated $3.17 bn loss in revenue.
“There are a number of reasons why people have abandoned their online purchases. 42 per cent of those who responded said they abandoned their carts because they were unhappy with delivery details or options. 34 per cent didn’t have enough information to make the right decision,” said Ms Sterling.
Technology is also transforming the ways that consumers interact with brands. One in five Australians have become more comfortable using messaging channels like WhatsApp and Facebook, to speak with brands during the pandemic.
The Report found that the volume of customer service via messaging channels (apps, WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook) has doubled since the start of the year.
“The most popular messaging channel is still a brand’s website because that normally drives the most traffic. Next is in-app messaging, especially in banking and insurance. Then it’s WhatsApp, and also Facebook messenger,” said Ms Sterling.
When asked about what they would like retailers to provide more of, 41 per cent expressed a desire for locally-based customer service agents with local knowledge, 34 per cent asked for improved communication channels, 25 per cent asked for curb-side pickup and 24 per cent asked for in-store virtual assistants.
Ms Sterling believes that these consumer trends are here to stay and the brands that capitalise on these trends will be ahead of the curve.
“Consumer comfort levels with using other channels of communication to engage with brands has completely accelerated. A lot of brands think people want high-touch experiences via a store or phone call, but they don’t,” said Ms Sterling.
“There’s an enormous opportunity for businesses to be better, for instance reoffering communication channels beyond the website, a call centre or in-store. Those brands that are more innovative in leaning into this new trend will be the ones that come through at the end of COVID-19.”