While shopping for building quotes for a new backyard shed, Chris Moriarty, managing director of business development firm Strike Force Sales, filled in an online quotation form at the website for ReadyMix, Australia’s leading concrete supplier.
Eight months later, Moriarty has still yet to receive an answer.
So, he decided to survey the response times to online customer inquiries of other large Aussie companies, sending in about 460 queries to companies with more than 100 employees.
From the companies his team contacted, 59 percent did not answer customer inquiries within seven days.
“The results are surprising, when you think about how much energy companies put into marketing -- and then a consumer wants to talk about a product and the company doesn't bother ringing them back,” said Moriarty.
“You spend all this money on advertising and marketing and brand awareness and when customers knock on your front door, you don’t even respond.”
Only six percent of the companies responded to inquiries over the phone, and of those that did, it took an average of nearly three days.
While several companies sent automated response emails promising a follow-up, 49 percent of those companies never contacted the customer again.
Moriarty believes that much of this indifference to online inquiries can be attributed to the fact that most businesses see email as simply the domain of the IT department, with no accountability about what actually happens to the customer’s question.
“What we think happens is that the emails go to the IT department and sit in a database, and there's no process to track how long and how many emails are going through,” he said.
“There's no real management system in place, there's no one who is responsible for making sure this happens in an efficient fashion, and it’s just sloppy.”
He also believes that Aussies perhaps expect a lower degree of customer service than countries like the U.S., so companies here have never been forced to change their ways.
Today, Australian companies are spending over $1 billion on online advertising alone, and tens of billions on mainstream advertising that very often directs customers to the Internet.
Moriarty believes that those are and will continue to be billions wasted if Aussie businesses don’t start focusing on answering these inquiries and making a connection with their customer base.
“If it takes three days for a customer to get an answer, there’s a good chance that that customer has gone off and found someone else to help them in three days,” he said.
“It’s an area that businesses haven’t taken seriously, and it’s destroying all the money and effort they’re putting into their brand awareness.”
Aussie businesses ignore online customer inquiries
By Ashley Clark on Jul 30, 2008 8:07AM