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BizReport : Research archives : July 10, 2007

Speed is of the essence for email customer service

Sloppy and slow email responses will cause many customers to check out the competition, according to a new survey in the U.K. by a British internet hosting firm. Audits are often in place for telephone and face-to-face customer service functions, but email communications are often overlooked.

by Helen Leggatt

fasthosts%20logo.gifA survey of 1,300 British consumers and 500 British small businesses has revealed the importance of an accurate and fast turnaround time for all email enquiries. The current email response timings don’t impress consumers. Almost 80 percent of those surveyed had, at some point, been disappointed by a slow email response.

What constitutes a fast turnaround? According to the consumers surveyed for Fasthosts’ “Customer Service Email Study” 24 hours was about the average time they were prepared to wait, although one in five abandoned all hope and moved on after just 12 hours.

The emotional impact of poor email customer service was also surveyed and responses ranged from irritation and stress (84 percent) and venting to someone else (38 percent) to desperation (27 percent) and confrontation (12 percent). In fact, a massive 89 percent of consumers said a slow email response would reflect negatively on the business and would directly lead them to investigate a competitor.

"The public suffers real stress from slow or sub-standard email replies so it is no surprise they feel so strongly about the issue,” said Mark Jeffries, CTO of Fasthosts. “Significantly, our research highlights that it isn't just the speed of the response that matters to consumers - it's how quickly they receive the right information."

Tags: customer service, email, U.K.

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