A massive 430-page report issued Friday by a Dublin-based company has given a failing grade to a large portion of the top Fortune 100 companies when it comes to effectively dealing with customer requests for information online. In fact, 37 per cent of the companies surveyed said they offered no reply to the general inquiries submitted to their Web sites, the report found.
The inaugural report, entitled the 2002 Online Customer Respect Study, examined Fortune 100 companies’ Web presence in the U.S. and based its findings around a number of criteria which included privacy, transparency, principals, responsiveness, simplicity and attitude.
On the whole, the insurance sector was judged as the most responsive to its customers with every company surveyed offering a response to customers, and 67 per cent of those companies responding within two working days. On the flip side, drug companies performed the poorest.
The average overall Customer Respect Index score for Fortune 100 companies was 6.5 out of 10; the average Responsiveness Index score was less than 50 per cent. The report found that 37 per cent of Fortune 100 companies offered no reply to general inquiries that were submitted to their Web sites, and this despite offering customers either an online form or e-mail contact for questions.
And for organizations that continue to wonder why their online venture isn’t attracting the business or revenues anticipated, look no further than inside the walls of the company for answers.
“Many members of the corporate America boardroom don’t have that sense (or) the lifetime value of the younger Internet generation that is greater than that of that traditional customer who might be more of a similar age to those in the boardroom,” said Donald Daly, CEO at CustomerRespect.com in Dublin.
Daly, also the author of the report, said the results “speak to customers (who) are not getting the attention or respect they deserve online.”
The report also presented some interesting paradoxes. For example, Daly said he expected consistency to appear in the results based on industries. But not so, as in the retail sector: Coca-Cola Corp. had better response results than PepsiCo Inc.; and in the auto industry, General Motors Corp. bettered rival Ford Motor Company.
North of the boarder, it appears that response times are slightly better. Halifax-based IT services company xwave’s director of marketing, Darell Fowlie, said “they guarantee a response in 24 hours but in most instances it’s sooner than that.”
And over at Bell.ca, for customers who visit the telco’s “contact us” on its Web site, Bell spokesperson Andrew Cole indicated that there are over 70 employees who will respond to customer e-mail requests within two business days. He estimated that the telecommunications company gets between 30,000 to 40,000 electronic requests per month. In fact, Cole added that Bell is in the process of adding a new e-mail system across all of Bell Canada’s companies into “one consolidated system.”
Some of the other results from the report included: 45 per cent of sites forced customers to opt out if they didn’t want unsolicited e-mail from the company; 15 per cent of sites sell customer data without their consent; and 83 per cent of sites offer no auto-response function to notify customers that their communication has been received.
For the complete findings of the report, visit www.customerrespect.com.