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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