Excellent online customer service may be worth US$17.3billion in 2010, according to a new Ovum survey commissioned by StellaService.
That’s the round figure for the 10.7 percent premium the report suggests customers are willing to pay for good customer service.
The survey was conducted across multiple categories — financialservices, healthcare, utilities and retail — including bothonline and brick-and-mortar stores. The total value of great customerservice across all categories, both online and off, was found to be$268 billion per year, or a 9.7 percent premium.
That online consumers are willing to pay an additional percentage isn’tsurprising, Jordy Leiser, cofounder and CEO of StellaService, told CRMBuyer.
The total value ofexcellent customer service for e-tailers is what he found compelling. “It was quite a shock for us, actually, especially considering that so few companies meet thecriteria for offering this level of service.”
Defining ‘Great’ Customer Service
For purposes of the survey, exceptional service consists of of threecomponents, Leiser explained. “One is that it has all of the necessaryonline tools and interfaces — which includes comprehensive content.The second is the shipping delivery and return polices. Are consumersable to easily execute the returns process?”
There is a world ofdifference among e-tailers in this category, he added, with pluses like the prepaid envelope Zappos sends to consumers, as well as negatives such as the many hoopsthat some e-commerce sites still make consumers jump through to return aproduct.
The third element is human support, Leiser said. To test this, thesurvey called each retailer more than 12 times to ask questionsabout products, its business operations, personal concerns, etc.
In conjunction with the survey, StellaService compiled a lists of customerrankings for the largest 150 e-commerce sites. Zappos.com, Diapers.comand BlueNile.com were in the top three slots, in that order.They were followed by Amazon.com, Staples.com, Crutchfield.com,LLBean.com, BestBuy.com, Apple.com, Sears.com and REI.com.
“As you can see, only a few companies really do this well,” Leisersaid. “Generally speaking, most firms tend to fall in the middle-of-the-pack range and don’t take an obsessive customer service approach.”
That is unfortunate, he added, because there is clearly a lot of moneyand value being left out of the total.