Dissatisfied customers leave $3b in goods at the checkout because …

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Customer service is never more important than in the lead-up to Christmas, and this year retailers –whether bricks and mortar or online – will be looking to claw back some of the losses suffered during pandemic lockdowns. But a new study puts a cost on poor customer service.

It estimates that retailers lost $3.17 billion in sales in the past 12 months when customers ‘walked away’ at the checkout.

The LivePerson Customer Conversation Report found that more than one-third (38 per cent) of customers were dissatisfied with their most recent retail customer service experience and seven out of 10 (71 per cent) had abandoned an online purchase at checkout in the past 12 months.  

The report, based on a survey of 3012 consumers – 1004 in each of Australia and Japan and 502 in each of Singapore and New Zealand – asked about customer service experiences in 2020, what had changed for them and what they wanted businesses to do differently or better.

Unsurprisingly, 63 per cent of Australians missed retail shopping a lot or a little during COVID-19 and 86 per cent said physical storefronts were still important when making retail purchases. Less than half (48 per cent) believed shopping would be ‘normal’ by this time next year. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said they were worried about shopping instore due to the virus – though obviously not the tidal wave of shoppers who descended on some stores when restrictions eased in Melbourne on Wednesday – and 82 per cent now rated ‘contactless shopping’ as important.

Asked specifically about their online shopping experiences and why they abandoned purchases at the checkout, the key issues were:

  • unhappy with delivery details or options – 42 per cent
  • wanting to do more research before making a purchase – 34 per cent
  • unhappy with the price – 30 per cent
  • not being able to find everything they needed – 20 per cent
  • not having simple questions answered easily online – 17 per cent.

Customer engagement executive at LivePerson, Kate Sterling, said that COVID-19 had disrupted the retail sector and increased customer expectations.

“Customers now hold much more power,” she said. “They are more judicious about what they buy, they are buying more online and they expect their questions to be answered in real time, wherever they are and through whatever channel they prefer.”

The research found that Victorians, who experienced Australia’s toughest lockdown measures, were the most positive about the future of customer service with 47 per cent – as opposed to 39 per cent nationally – saying they believed the pandemic would lead to a better retail service experience.

When asked what they had become more comfortable with during the pandemic:

  • 47 per cent of Australians said shopping online (compared to 54 per cent of New Zealanders)
  • One in five (21 per cent) Australians said using messaging channels to speak to brands (compared to 50 per cent of Singaporeans)
  • 18 per cent said speaking with an AI agent (the average across all four countries was 15 per cent)
  • 17 per cent said using QR codes (compared to 49 per cent of New Zealanders and 56 per cent of Singaporeans).

And what did survey participants want more of?:

  • locally based customer service agents with local knowledge – 41 per cent
  • an improved range of communication channels – 34 per cent
  • curbside pick-up options – 25 per cent
  • technology to allow questions to be answered instore by virtual assistants – 24 per cent.

“Businesses can’t control the pandemic, but they can improve their approach to customer care,” said Ms Sterling.

“The retailers who will do well this Christmas and, in the years to come, are those who care about customer experience and use technology to augment a personal approach.”

Has customer service been an issue for you this year? Or was it an issue even before the pandemic? What are your main complaints?

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Written by Janelle Ward

14 Comments

Total Comments: 14
  1. 0
    0

    Regarding “ unhappy with shopping” , has anyone else noticed that the prices of many everyday food items increased considerably since the start of COVID-19.

  2. 0
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    Even more so this week in local IGA – single yog last week $1.20 – this week $1.70 – no way – sheer greed leading up to Xmas

  3. 0
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    One of the reasons that purchases online are abandoned at the checkout could be because it’s not until you reach the checkout that you discover what the actual cost is going to be, inclusive of postage and handling as well as conversion to $Aus. I have certainly found this myself.

    • 0
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      I was wondering the same thing myself, I often get to the checkout stage and find that the postage might not be included or the postage in some instances cost more than the item.

  4. 0
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    Yes, despite notices proclaiming “prices are down, down”, they have in fact gone up. up! E.g Chicken Kiev up from $2.70 to $3.50 a piece in recent weeks.
    I cannot understand the trend to online buying. I have neen known to purchase books, DVDs or car parts online, but would never consider buying food or clothing that way – far too risky.

    • 0
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      I agree BillW41, while I have bought food on line [home delivery] the quality was not what I would have picked myself. Mind you having said that, have recently noticed that fruit and veg quality has deteriorated a lot in the last few years. Bought some strawberries on Tuesday and half of them had to be tossed on Thursday as they were moldy – this is in spite of washing them in a vinegar/water mix on Tuesday.

      Buying clothes online is not worth the hassle. With sizes being different everywhere it is a nightmare to get the correct fit. Have bought the same brand of jeans x 2 in the same size. Tried one pair on and as they fitted picked up another pair. Both bought at the same time, both the same size and brand but the second pair I picked up didn’t fit when I wanted to wear them a couple of weeks later – by which time had thrown the receipt away so could not take them back. Eventually gave them to charity at my next clean out. 🙁

  5. 0
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    What stresses me the most is shopping at Aldi if you do not have a trolley and only have your bags…so hard trying to pack them and pay for them and get out of the road of the person following you.

  6. 0
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    Hey Joy Anne. Re your comment about prices going up for everyday things we seniors buy, like cleaning products…… I use no name vinegar with a dash of detergent, and a cap of eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle – and that cleans my whole house, so no rubbish, expensive bad-for-the-environment stuff for me. I also follow the Cheapskates Club for all their advice about coping with increasing cost of living and beating your budget into submission !! Worth a look.

  7. 0
    0

    I’m with you MissP their Miracle spray is fantastic. For those that are interested the Miracle spray in on google


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