Internet / Web Customer Satisfaction Suggestions

According to a recent study* which looked at 17,608 e-consumer complaints about online stores, the percentage distribution of complaint categories was as follows: delivery 19%, customer relations 17%, product 11%, return & refund 10%, order process 10%, billing & payment 9%, promotion & advertising 9%, website 8%, pricing 4%, company 2%, and privacy 1%.e-consumer complaints about online stores

Review the following suggestions list to help avoid online customer dissatisfaction:

Billing & Payment Related Issues

Provide alternative payment methods; integrate account department with order taking, inbound and outbound logistics, and customer service departments through information and communication technologies (particularly through EDI-electronic data interchange) to prevent charging and billing the consumer for (a) non-delivered products or non-delivered portions of an order, (b) orders cancelled by the consumer, and (c) cancelled memberships; bill and charge consumers only upon shipment of the products; prior to billing and charging send a notification to the consumer about the amount and date of payment so that is something is wrong it can be corrected; payback overcharges and double charges immediately to the consumer’s account; to prevent billing and charging the consumer for someone else’s purchase or unwanted/not ordered products, send a notification and request the consumer’s approval.

Company Related Issues

Inform consumers about changes in company policies in a visible and understandable way; improve internal marketing and track employee satisfaction; choose highly reputed, well-known business partners and take responsibility if they fail due to bankruptcy or mergers and acquisitions.

Customer Relations & Service Related Issues

Select staff who are responsive, competent and have a courteous attitude toward consumers; give regular training to all staff; inform customer service representatives about changes in company policies; provide toll-free numbers; provide virtual operators and online chat environments; do not exceed the stated time-range for return calls on customer messages; give to-the-point accurate answers to specific consumer queries; decrease waiting time on the phone by allowing consumers to leave messages for customer service representatives; do not prevent consumers if they want to talk with managers and supervisors; be transparent and give names and extensions of managers; send notifications and updates via e-mail or phone to the consumers about their membership situations; make it possible to assign the same representative to the same customer so that they do not have to describe their problem several times; use effective complaint handling and provide a link on the web site where consumers can write their complaints, questions, or suggestions; make infrastructure investments in order to integrate customer service department with other departments (such as inbound logistics, marketing and sales, production, etc.).

Delivery Related Issues

State comprehensive shipping and delivery terms and conditions on the web site in an easily seen place; state delivery periods which are not impossible to achieve and deliver on-time; extend delivery periods during peak times (such as in the Christmas holiday season); use high quality shipping containers; integrate company’s delivery system with carrier company’s delivery system; provide alternative delivery methods and options (e.g. for delivery methods – delivery to post office close to the consumer, enable consumers to pick up products from brick and mortar store; for delivery options – overnight delivery, two day delivery, ground delivery, etc.); integrate the company’s internal divisions to (a) each other, (b) delivery carriers, and (c) customers (i.e. interface inbound logistics with sales department, and sales department with outbound logistics, etc.); provide alternative delivery carriers; install a system where consumers can track their orders in real time; use advanced computer systems to deliver the right product to the right place and person.

Order Process Related Issues

Provide an order tracking system; send order status notifications about delays, cancellations or order confirmation; provide an order cancellation option prior to shipment and easy to understand cancellation information; design an order system that does not permit the completion of an order when a product is unavailable due to being out of stock, backordered or discontinued (for instance give an alerting message before acceptance of the order if a product is unavailable); use integrated logistics systems, electronic data interchange, just in time, and shared technological infrastructure programs with company suppliers in order to control inventory levels and reflect changes to the consumer instantaneously; provide effective communication and coordination among different divisions of a company in order to prevent failures during the order process (such as shipment of an order that is cancelled by the consumer); integrate the company’s internal divisions to (a) each other, (b) to suppliers, (c) to delivery carriers, and (d) to customers through information and communication technologies; obtain approval from consumers prior to sending substitutes when a product is unavailable; provide the option to change order information (e.g. amount or content of the order, credit card information, delivery date and place) prior to shipment; do not permit completion of order process if something is invalid, incorrect or missing; establish a sensitive order system that will not accept orders and will give an alerting message when coupons or certificates used by consumer are invalid, when credit care information is missing, and when the stated price is wrong).

Pricing Related Issues

Avoid unreasonable shipping and handling fees; avoid unfair pricing (such as excessive and discriminatory pricing); consider value pricing; honor the price match/guarantee policy that is stated on company website; avoid price irregularities and inform consumers about price changes; do not make price changes during a transaction; charge shipping and handling fee on the basis of the weight of the products; avoid inconsistent pricing between brick and mortar and online stores; provide automated systems that charge the right sales tax for the right state/country; enable consumers to view all additional fees prior to the end of ordering (for instance give estimated shipping and tax fees during the beginning of order process).

Privacy Related Issues

Use permission marketing and opt-in vs. opt-out options when sending e-mails or newsletters to consumers, so unsolicited contact can be prevented; state the privacy policy of the company explicitly on the website; be sensitive to the privacy concerns of all consumers; state terms and conditions about the use of consumer data explicitly on the website; confirm that all personally identifiable data about consumers is encrypted.

Product & Support Service Related Issues

Use total quality management in order to decrease ratio of defective products; provide a wide range of products for on-line store; use high quality packaging and wrapping; avoid selling harmful / dangerous products and fake / counterfeit products; inform consumers about refurbished products; provide consistent and adequate labeling of products; provide post-sale service such as repair, maintenance, and technical support; provide online technical support or assistance; choose suppliers and partners that can support product warranties and guarantees; provide product documentation within package and on website.

Promotional & Advertising Related Issues

Honor rebates, gift certificates and coupons in a timely manner; avoid misleading/deceiving advertising; avoid false demonstrations about products; avoid false claims about products and company policies; avoid bait and switch tactics; avoid controversial and socially unacceptable advertising; represent accurate, clear and comprehensive information about promotional terms, conditions and offers.

Return, Exchange & Refund Policy Related Issues

Provide easily seen, clear and comprehensive return and refund policies of the company on the website; honor returns and refunds as stated in the company’s policies; do not demand (a) shipping and handling fees or (b) restocking fees for returned products if the fault belongs to the company (e.g. if wrong, incomplete or defective product is sent or if the stated delivery period is not honored); make it easy to obtain prepaid return labels (i.e. put in in the product package or send via e-mail); make it possible to return products to company brick and mortar stores; integrate the systems of online store with brick and mortar stores.

Website Content & Technology Related Issues

Provide an easily accessible company website and links; design easy to download web pages; provide lots of good content (text and graphics ‘“ avoid overly large images); design an easy to navigate, user-friendly shopping environment; give plenty of accurate information on the website about the company, its policies and products and services; avoid objectionable content; update website regularly for stock changes, typographic errors and to provide fresh information; establish inter-organizational information systems with suppliers through the use of EDI and integrate company’s website with the websites of suppliers so that accurate inventory information can be reflected to the consumers in a timely manner; provide subscribe/unsubscribe options on the website; use the most recent encryption methods to provide website security; enable consumers to view shipping and tax charges on the web site; provide appropriate product categorization on the webpage; include promotional tools on the website so that print out or download of rebates, coupons and certificates is possible; enable consumers to use promotional tools (such as rebates, coupons and certificates) during ordering without difficulty.

* e-Consumer Complaints About On-Line Stores, Prof. V. Aslihan Nasir, Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, Volume 17, 2004, pp. 68-87

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