Online Buyers Turn on Poorly Integrated Shops


True confession: I don't like parades.


OK-that's not fair. I don't like watching parades on TV. I never have. It makes me feel like a voyeur, but in a bad way, as if my life is so dull, I can only have fun vicariously. I just do not get it.


While I'm confessing, I'll go ahead and own up to the fact I hate also shopping. Hating parades and shopping: Does this make me un-American?


I hope not, because it's congenital, much to my mother's chagrin. The only shopping I enjoy takes place in a bookstore, and that's mostly because bookstores have coffee and libraries don't. So, I won't be rushing out of the house at 5 a.m. to hit those Black Friday sales.


However, what I probably will do is sneak online while the pumpkin pie cools to place a few critical holiday gift orders. I expect it to be quick, easy and painless-or I'll just move on to another site for my purchase.


Apparently, I'm not the only one who expects flawless performance from online shopping. A UK survey of online shopping habits, conducted by Harris Interactive for Tealeaf, revealed 41 percent of online shoppers will switch to a competitor or simply abandon the transaction if they experience a problem with the site, according to this NewsFactor.com report.


Worse for online businesses, we will then turn on you like a carb-starved dieter on pumpkin pie, blabbing to anyone who'll listen about how much the business sucks. Eighty-four percent confessed they'd share their experiences with others, both online and offline. Guilty as charged.


Harris Interactive estimated this creates a $57 billion potential impact to revenue to shopping sites alone. Ouch.


So, obviously, this is a big problem for online stores, but the problem doesn't end at the Web storefront. This study, and others, went beyond the Web site to see what happens next. It turns out, 47 percent of all online adults have contacted a company's call center after encountering problems with the Web site.


And that is where integration comes into play. "These studies have highlighted that there is a lack of integration between the contact center and Web channels of these businesses," NewsFactor noted.


When customers do call customer service, they've found they're generally clueless about the online transaction. According to the article, "Of these individuals, 64 percent did not feel that the service agent was knowledgeable about the Web site and nearly two in five -- or 38 percent -- did not have their issue resolved."


Apparently, that really irks customers, because at that point, a hefty percentage either stopped or decreased the business they gave to the company.


Integrating contact centers is no easy task. And despite all the buzz about SaaS CRM, it doesn't look like cloud solutions are rushing to the rescue any time soon. Gartner analyst Michael Maoz recently wrote about the complexities of contact centers and why contact centers just aren't that into in SaaS.

"Customer Service organizations that have to pull up real time information from multiple back end legacy systems, and run business rules against the information, with hundreds of agents potentially hitting that same rules engine, shy away from SaaS. ... Another issue is the complexity of modeling the business process prior to launching a system (or, creating a sandbox or test environment)."

So far, Maoz hasn't found any examples of large call centers deploying SaaS solutions. But he's still looking-if you happen to know someone with 300 or more agents using SaaS in their call center, he'd like to talk to you.


But not me. I just want your Web site and your call center to work like it's supposed to. And since it's Thanksgiving, I'll even remember to be thankful if it does.