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Unhappy eCommerce shoppers tell it like it is

Oct. 3, 2008

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eCommerce site managers and eTailers have known for a long time that consumers spread the word quickly when they have had a bad experience with a business, be it online or not. The same is true if they bought a product or service that they aren't happy with. Today, there are many user review sites and ratings websites where consumers can vent out their frustrations.

With all the bad financial news that has rocked Wall Street and Main Street in the past two weeks, now more than ever, people today have the technology to spread the word faster than ever, and eCommerce storefront managers, both large and small need to carefully pay attention if they wish to not just continue to sell, but to simply stay in business.

According to an August 2008 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, online shoppers in the U.S. who have had problems completing transactions also use direct word-of-mouth to share their experiences with others, both online and offline.

Over 72.1 percent of survey respondents said they told someone in person about their problem, and 51.6 percent of respondents said they told someone over the phone or by e-mail. This is the most powerful type of recommendation against something consumers can make, and retail business managers need to take note and act upon it rapidly.

About 71.3 percent of respondents said that service agents didn't understand their particular issue, or were rather indifferent to hear their problem. Of the respondents that participated in the study, 68.9 percent spoke with agents who were not even knowledgeable about their websites, and almost 49.7 percent of respondents said their issues were not resolved in any way.

One of the main reasons consumers start complaining to their friends is that they do not get satisfaction from customer service. In September of last year, the same two companies surveyed online shoppers who had contacted customer service about transaction problems.

But online retailers should be careful not to shoot the messenger... While it might be tempting to shut down Internet tools that enshrine bad feedback forever, that can do more harm than good.

Still, about 52.6 percent of U.S. Internet users who posted feedback about products and services to 'BazaarVoice' client sites left positive feedback most of the time, according to a study conducted by Keller Fay Group and released in November of last year.

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Source: Harris Interactive.

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