E-Commerce Still Sucks When It Comes To Customer Experience

from the still? dept

Back in the early days of e-commerce, it wasn't too surprising to see the various studies saying that people often had bad e-commerce experiences, but you would hope that these days it wouldn't be so common. Unfortunately, a new study suggests that plenty of people are still having terrible customer service experiences with various e-commerce sites. And, of course, those bad experiences are leading them to do less business with the companies. Obviously, things fall through the cracks here and there and not every customer experience is going to be perfect -- but you wouldn't expect it to be so bad that nearly 90% of people surveyed said they'd had a bad e-commerce experience lately.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:44pm

    The market is so large and geographically distant, that they don't value an individual customer the way brick and mortar stores must do. Negative word of mouth is effective in a neighborhood; but not noticeably so on the web.

    Once their business momentum is built up, they can get lazy about customer service. This attitude is revealed when they don't show a real address, or make it extremely difficult to speak to a human being on the phone. And they know that you can't walk in the door and wring their f---ing necks.

    A widely promoted internet gripe site is needed.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:49pm

    re: E-Commerce Still Sucks When It Comes To Custom

    While yes, there are many, many sites that have no clue how to handle ecommerce or, do not think it's necessary to invest SOME money into a proper site, opinion is changing with the store owners and there ARE sites doing it right. Myself for example.

    Unfortunately, if you don't know all the ins and outs of a ecommerce program, and have the connections to set things up right the first time, you're headed for disaster. Until these store owners put out the cash for a proper ecommerce set up, that 90% could creep closer to 99% in no time at all.

    Kevin

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:57pm

    re: Anonymous Coward comments

    I agree with your comments 100%, but it only pertains to what goes on in the U.S. and the rest of the world. In Canada, before the merchant gateway supplier will allow your site to go live, you MUST have a reachable phone number, email and a full address of your legitimate business on the site, in plain view and and be able to provide satisfactory customer service. It sound likes a pain, but actually in the long run it makes for a very pleasant purchasing experience.

    Kevin

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:57pm

    re: Anonymous Coward comments

    I agree with your comments 100%, but it only pertains to what goes on in the U.S. and the rest of the world. In Canada, before the merchant gateway supplier will allow your site to go live, you MUST have a reachable phone number, email and a full address of your legitimate business on the site, in plain view and and be able to provide satisfactory customer service. It sound likes a pain, but actually in the long run it makes for a very pleasant purchasing experience.

    Kevin

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    lizard, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 11:26pm

    i have shopped at dozens and dozens of sites, and made easily a hundred purchase transactions over the past three years, with not one negative experience. some were better than others, yes, but i never felt dissatisfied enough to feel the need to complain.

    am i just lucky? no, i am observant and picky. if a site does not display certifications that are verifiable, or have a significant independent customer rating, or if the purchase process is in any way questionable, i just don't shop there.

    so i must wonder, how many of these experiences are attributable to the same kind of mindset that makes workers more a threat to a company's computers, than viruses. you know, the "problem exists between keyboard and chair" folks. lack of due diligence and caution explains quite a lot of bad user experiences.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Random, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:22am

    A few sites?

    I have also shopped at lots of sites over the years and the main problem I have had is with the postal services used to deliver the goods.

    Maybe the sites in question are more common in areas I'm not farmiliar with?

    Either that or some people have MUCH higher expectations.

     

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  7.  
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    Steelbeach, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 12:43am

    meh

    I prefer to shop online. I even buy my groceries online. I can honestly say I have never had a bad experience. truthfully, all my bad experiences were with real stores with real employees. In ten years of online purchases, only once did I have to return an item, and it was replaced with a new item in less than a week.
    Much like Random said, its the shipping companies that blow goats.
    mostly because I have to deal with a persobn at some point in the game....

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Mark, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 5:16am

    Customer Experience

    E-commerce doesn't suck. Customer service, whether E or otherwise has the potential to suck depending on the company offering it.
    In many cases we as consumers have done this to ourselves.

    It is very difficult to get the right people involved in your customer service operation when no one is willing to pay for it.

    You don't get top notch service at wal-mart prices.

    It is also pretty safe to say that the people who struggle so badly to complete an online transaction are not the folks who are reading techdirt. I have very rarely had a problem completing an online order, or struggled to get help when I needed it. When it happens I don't go back to that store. Just like I do in brick and mortar locations.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Mscsrrr.com, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 6:14am

    E-Commerce Still Sucks When It Comes To Customer E

    I agree to this. 90% of e-commerce sites have really terrible customer services. Oh, this is not limited to e-commerce sites. I have had very rotten experiences with multi-billion corporations too

     

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  10.  
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    Shalkar, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:24am

    My Opinion is:

    I have to agree with lizard on this one. If people are cautious chances are that nine times out of ten their experience will be fine other than problems with shipping. Which usually comes more from the shipping company than the company you're buying from. You really have to look at every aspect of the site and make sure it's legit. Once you find a legit site, make sure you let others know about it and hopefully they'll let you know about some. In that way we can self regulate as it's meant to be.

    As for a one site to give your opinions on other sites, well I'm not going to hold my breath. Most people are too lazy to leave comments about a site unless they get burned. I'm sure you see that as well. :/

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    grypheon, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:33am

    tools and processes

    My IT department is so focused on maintaining our SLAs on devices and we miss the big picture that our on-line apps touch systems managed by up-to 10 different teams, whenever there is a problem it is one big finger pointing exercise. To deal with this we are implmenting a dedicated team that looks just at the QoS of apps from a user perspective - there are lots of tools out there to help but we have one group using webtrends, sitescope and wily cem to actively monitor what the customer sees.

    Anyone else changing their ops department to focus on the customer?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Rebecca, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:39am

    e-comerce experience

    I buy alot of stuff online and I did have one I had to return. It was from an amazon store owner and he was blatently malfunctioning. Amazon however was so good and even gave me a $25 gift certificate for my troubles. So
    now even my one bad experience turned out to be good. Most the time i'm amazed at how good the service is and how fast I get the product. I'm not a nice, patient person by nature so I'm guessing some just like to complain.

     

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  13.  
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    Steak, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:43am

    I call Bullshit !!!

    Look at the wording of the question. It's bullshit. "about nine out of 10 consumers conducting transactions online (87%) have experienced problems". So basically, they're saying, 9 out of 10 have had some problems at some time in the last year.
    That statistic is meaningless for two reasons. First of all, it's too broad and generalized. The survey doesn't define "problem" very clearly, and completely fails to represent "if you buy something online, how likely is it that you will have a problem?". Oh hell, why don't you put out a survey of people who have had some kind of problem with their car in the last year? I promise, you'll get at least 9 out of 10 on that; does that mean car reliability is terrible too? No, it just means that the question is too 'easy' to answer yes to.
    There is another problem, with the definition of 'problem'. People are stupid. They order the wrong device or the wrong part, and/or don't know how to use it, then complain that "it doesn't work". Or maybe they'll buy an item on ebay that's listed as broken, then complain that it's broken. Believe me, I've seen stranger.
    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The implication shouldn't be "is ecommerce a pain in the ass?", it should be "does ecommerce suck more than brick-and-mortar commerce?". My answer is, no it doesn't. Where's the survey of who's "had problems" with traditional stores in the last year? That's probably 9/10 as well.
    I've had MUCH, MUCH better experiences dealing with ebay users than I have with big chain stores. For a full-time, exclusive ebay seller, their seller rating is basically all they have for their reputation. If they get lots of customers complaining and they don't help them, their rating goes to hell and they're completely sunk. Ever see an ebay Power Seller that says "we guarantee 100% positive ratings"? They do. And if there's a problem, they'll fix it. They're better because they have to be. Best Buy, Circuit City, and the like have the PR to fix their reputation if their service sucks, so they can afford to make their customers miserable; and they do.
    Do a product search on Froogle (now Google Products) for a relatively popular item. Most online etailers that no one's heard of have pretty good ratings. Now, who has the lowest ratings, say 3 or fewer stars out of 5? I'll name you a few: walmart.com, target.com, cdw.com, circuitcity.com, macys.com. Surprised? I'm not.

    Here's my conclusion: This study is crap, it implies that "most etail customers have bad experiences". But it fails to mention the frequency of such incidents. Why bother taking a survey? How about getting results from amazon.com or newegg over how many complaints they have divided by total sales? Then maybe compare them to levels 5 years ago. That's a much better metric. Ok, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that; let's say hypothetically they proved that ecommerce sucks. How is it compared to physical commerce? If they can't conclude that "ecommerce is worse than traditional commerce", then their point boils down to nothing more than "life is tough". Now that's not news. However, they didn't even seem to bother doing that much. The survey from the article has no mention of any comparison to regular stores. Too bad.

    Now let's not overhype garbage statistics and pseudo-science 'findings' from mediocre survey websites, and try to focus on some real facts. Thanks for your time, email me with responses.

    - Steak

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Steak, Sep 24th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    email address

    Forgot to post my email address. Any comments, send to bplennon at gmail.

     

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