by CIO Staff

Online Customer Service: The Basics

May 15, 20042 mins
CRM Systems

When it comes to converting shoppers into buyers, a good customer experience is the number-one indicator. Unfortunately for retailers, there’s no magic formula for ensuring a good experience. Consumer expectations vary widely depending on products; shoppers of commodities such as books and CDs tend to go online to buy a specific title, while those in the market for technical gear such as audio equipment are looking for product information and price comparisons.

Shoppers are fairly resilient when it comes to sporadic performance problems, says John Lovett, senior performance analyst with Gomez, an Internet performance company. “If a customer experiences slowness or a broken page once in awhile, they’ll return to use that channel,” he says. What shoppers can’t tolerate is inconsistent performance, recurring navigation problems and unexpected mishaps, such as completing the order-entry process only to learn that the product won’t ship on time.

In light of that, Kate Delhagen, vice president of retail research at Forrester Research, offers these basic elements that every retail website should include:

Clear navigation that takes consumers to relevant products within a few clicks

Product detail pages with all information needed to make a purchase, such as images, ratings, inventory status and so on

Easy and intuitive checkout process

Shipping and tax fees clearly displayed before credit card submission

Order and shipment status tracking capabilities

Follow-up e-mail after the expected shipping date