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Study: U.K. 'Clicks and Mortar' Firms Fail on Service

[June 15] A new survey by U.S. e-business solutions company Chordiant Software suggests that U.K. firms compromise the quality of their customer service when they extend their operations to the Web.

Chordiant says that while U.K. firms are more eager to adopt a "clicks and mortar" strategy than their European counterparts, they often keep their e-commerce activities separate from the rest of their business. The result is lack of communication between the two and a consequent decline in service to the customer.

171 British, German and Dutch organizations were surveyed for the report, published Thursday by Chordiant Software. 62 per cent of U.K. companies said they had plans for adopting new media channels such as the Web, against 42 per cent of German companies and 30 percent of Dutch companies.

On the question of integration, however, no less than 84 per cent of U.K. firms admitted that their existing channels to market were not integrated. In other words, their various departments do not share customer data -- and are therefore less able to provide a top-class service to the customer.

By contrast, 36 per cent of German firms and 27 percent of Dutch firms claimed to have fully integrated customer channels.

According to Chordiant EMEA Marketing Director Neil Morgan, traditional U.K. companies feel under pressure from dotcoms to establish online operations.

"But it's no use offering your customer a slick, personalized Web site if you can't service that customer equally well when they write to you, phone you, e-mail you or walk into your branch," said Morgan.

The Chordiant survey confirms a lot of the anecdotal experience of bad service such failure to answer customers' e-mails, frequently reported in the U.K. press.

As U.K. companies are discovering, the Web has added a new layer of complexity to their customer interaction, and the challenge is getting harder. Successful customer relationship management now has to contend with multiple points of contact -- not just point of sale and the Internet, but also call centers, WAP, and interactive TV.

Companies need to adopt an integrated, multi-channel approach to customer service if they are to run successful "clicks and mortar" businesses, concludes Chordiant.



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