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…survey shows that companies with online ordering facilities performed best…

75% of companies treat UK businesses as ‘second class citizens’, potentially costing themselves billions of pounds every year. This was the key finding of the Ironside Order Disorder™ Study which compared business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales ordering inquiries across a variety of sales channels and vertical sectors. Overall, 85% of UK FTSE companies surveyed were guilty of poor customer service and unhelpful ordering procedures.

The Study revealed that e-Commerce has now overtaken fax in the UK as the best way to conduct business. 87% of companies surveyed completely ignored sales inquiries by fax, whereas 57% of companies responded to inquiries by email. Companies that also had online ordering performed significantly better in the study, with the three best-performing companies all offering online services. Fax was the worst performing channel overall, scoring an average of only 5%, on overall efficiency and customer service, whereas the web scored the second-highest overall, with an average of 50% and email came third overall with an average of 26%.

The Ironside Order Disorder™ Study was carried out by independent researchers for Ironside Technologies, a global leader in business-to-business e-Commerce solutions for manufacturers and distributors. It surveyed 54 FTSE companies’ responses to sales inquiries by letter, fax, telephone, web site and email, and marked them on accuracy, speed, responding to deadline and helpfulness of answer. The Study compared results across six sectors: automotive, food and drink, pharmaceutical/chemical, electronics, IT and retail. 85% of companies rated less than 50% on overall efficiency and customer service in the survey, with the automotive sector performing the worst, rating only 12% on average.

The Study also exposed fundamental flaws in the customer service and ordering procedures of large FTSE quoted companies, ranging from a complete lack of response to long telephone hold times and inadequate training for front-line staff.

Key findings of the research:

· Despite large IT investment in Customer Relationship Management technologies, performance was very inconsistent, with overall performance by channel varying by 56% - from fax, which scored only 5% overall, to phone, which scored 61%.

· 89% could not take orders online or allow people to track order progress. Those companies that did offer online ordering performed significantly better in the survey

· 20% did not respond at all to any form of written communication (fax, email or letter)

· B2B companies performed significantly worse than B2C companies, with 75% of B2B companies scoring below 50% on overall efficiency and customer service, whereas 83% of B2C companies rated as Average or above

· Although telephone communication was the best performing channel, it was revealed to be a slow and unwieldy process, with hold times of over three hours in total in some cases – and an accuracy of information rating of only 61% when researchers did get through. A leading drinks company only provided information via telephone after 11 transfers, four separate calls and a total call time of over two hours

· The worst companies surveyed were two companies in the Food and Drink sector who scored only 4% on overall efficiency and customer service

· Only one company, a leading electronic components supplier, was seen as offering excellent service, with an overall score of 93%

“Ordering goods and services from British businesses by phone, fax and letter is time consuming and inefficient. Despite all the talk of improved customer service, long hold times, unresponsive staff and rigid procedures mean that the sales process is still designed around the supplier not the customer. This is costing UK PLC dearly,” said Ralph Allen, VP EMEA.

“Inexcusably, B2B companies provided a significantly worse response to queries, demonstrating that businesses are treated as second class citizens when it comes to ordering goods and services in Corporate Britain,” he continued.

Only 11% of companies allowed electronic ordering– a major failing given the growth of Internet adoption amongst small businesses and contrary to research from the Confederation of British Industry in April 2001 which found that over 85% of companies were doing business online.

Allen concluded, “Not surprisingly, those companies that allowed online ordering scored highest. Technology could have solved many of the problems encountered easily and empowered their customers by giving them the flexibility to order goods how and when they want.”

The Ironside Order Disorder™ Study combined a mixture of analytical research with a series of rigorous ‘real life’ order enquiries by independent researchers posing as small businesses in order to provide a snapshot of the frustrations faced by businesses operating in the UK today. The Study identifies a 10 separate areas in which FTSE companies are failing to deliver an acceptable level of service, leading to unhappy customers and missed opportunities.

The Study made several recommendations, including:

· Adapt processes that are designed to work around the customer – do not make them jump through hoops to get basic information

· Integrate all your customer channels and ensure that the same answers are given and procedures followed, irrespective of how a customer approaches you

· Do not discriminate against smaller customers by forcing them to communicate and order from you solely via certain channels

· Have the capacity to deal with your customer base, particularly at busy times such as Christmas, to avoid losing business

· Increase use of web-based ordering to provide up-to-the-minute product, inventory, and order information and remove the load from call centres or sales representatives

Researchers asked large FTSE quoted businesses five simple questions about its ordering processes for small businesses and then assessed the responses in terms of accuracy, speed, responding to deadline and helpfulness of answer.

The Ironside Order Disorder™ Study was completed in May 2002. A full copy of the Study is available by emailing Susie Whitmore on Ironside Technologies acknowledges that alternative studies carried out at different times under different conditions may yield other results.

About Ironside Technologies

Ironside Technologies, Inc., is a global leader in supplier-focused business-to-business electronic commerce solutions responsible for powering the e-Commerce strategies of some of the world's most prominent manufacturers and distributors. Ironside solutions enable suppliers to quickly and flexibly integrate on-line channels with existing business strategies to deliver measurable results, strengthen trading partner relationships and increase efficiencies. The Ironside solution suites automate key business processes such as order management, customer service, finance, vendor management and marketing, enabling suppliers to transact with customers and vendors in real-time through browsers, wireless devices, e-Marketplaces and e-Procurement systems. Ironside Powered® solutions integrate into virtually all enterprise business systems and are available as rapidly deployable integrated solutions for most leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms. For more information, p!
lease visit the company's Web site at

Media contacts:

Chris Measures/Sarra Mander
Public Relations for Ironside

+44 (0)20 7494 6570

Susie Whitmore
Marketing Manager
Ironside Technologies
+44 (0) 1753 440800

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Speed Communications in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Personal Finance, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit