The Gap Between Customer Care and Online Shoppers

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

11 Best Practices for Online Chat Sales and Customer Service

Online chat is gaining attention as an effective customer service delivery method.

A TeaLeaf survey back in 2008 showed how many call centers lacked integration with and insight into the company's websites. This turned customers off cold, because too often, customer service was absolutely no help in resolving the problems they had with the website.


More than three years have passed, but precious little has changed, it seems.


"The Reducing Customer Struggle," a recent Econsultancy report commissioned (again) by customer experience management company TeaLeaf, found that only six percent of companies believe the offline parts of their business have visibility into how customers interact with their websites. Only three percent say they provide an excellent cross-channel customer experience.


And get this - 76 percent of retailers said they first become aware of website problems when customers call or email the contact center.


Apparently, companies didn't "get" it the first time it came out, even though the earlier survey pointed out that 41 percent of shoppers abandoned the online transaction after experiencing a problem, nearly two in five did not have that problem resolved by customer service and - ahem - 37 percent decided to decrease the amount of business they did with the company after encountering an unresolved Web problem.


Why can't companies get their channels in sync? After all, the stakes seem high. The EConsultancy article - written by Geoff Galata, TeaLeaf's head of marketing, and evangelizing customer experience management - quotes Gartner on the importance of cross-channel integration:

The lack of cohesive business integration across channels and consistent management of customer interactions will be the leading factors diminishing customer satisfaction and increasing defection to competitors.

Galata argues there are three options for syncing and integrating your Web store with customer service:


  1. Replicate the users' website experience for customer service. This allows customer service representatives to see what went wrong before the customer calls - but it does require maintaining two sites. It also "fails to account for transaction history, visitor preferences and the unique and unpredictable behavior of each user," according to the article.
  2. Support co-browsing so representatives can follow the customer's online footsteps. The downside to this is you don't have a record of what happened when the problem occurred.
  3. Deploy a customer experience management (CEM) solution - which, not coincidentally, is what TeaLeaf is. The article notes a CEM system can play back what the customer did when the problem occurred. Obviously, since a TeaLeaf executive wrote this series, you might take the recommendation with a grain of salt.

But then again, we all know that there's a gap between customer service and what happens online. And lots of us lose our time to that gap, which means online retailers lose business and money in it.

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