Customer service ‘will put damper on festive online surge’

Online spending is set to surge this Christmas – but there are predictions that customer service will be unable to keep up with demand.

With over three-quarters of British households now enjoying broadband, shoppers are expected to spend £40b online this year as a whole – £13.8b in the run-up to Christmas alone. The figure represents a 42% increase on last year.

However, pundit Numero says this Christmas will be notable for online shoppers who cannot get a response from inundated customer service centres.

Customer contact centres are at their busiest in the 10 days before Christmas owing to the huge number of queries and complaints about non-delivery of items.

“The customer emails the contact centre to request an update,” says Numero director Mark Chamberlain, “and where no update is forthcoming will continue to email until a resolution is given, increasing inbound complaints by as much as five-fold more than during any other month of the year.”

He says that this festive season many retailers will be unable to cope with the pressure.

“Disappointed customers will not shop online with that retailer again,” he warns, “or even shop online again at all. Online retailers must realise that the website is the front door of any company and in the majority of cases displays a ‘Contact us’ button on the home page: it’s like the door being open for business but there’s nobody on the front desk.”

UK online spending is predicted to rise to £162b by 2020, making up 40% of total retail sales.

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