Aspect Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: ASPT), a leading provider of enterprise customer contact solutions, today announced the results of its annual survey of online Christmas shoppers in the United States conducted through independent firm Greenfield Online, a pioneer in online market research. Now in its second year, the Aspect survey is designed to gather intelligence, uncover issues and determine new trends among online Christmas shoppers with regard to their customer service experiences.
This year's survey for 2003 revealed that 40 percent of respondents found their customer service experiences had greatly improved from that of 12 months ago. Another 54 percent of online shoppers responded that their customer service experiences were as good as or slightly better than their experiences the previous year. In all, more than 90 percent of survey respondents had positive customer service experiences shopping online this past Christmas season.
In the survey for 2002, respondents beseeched online companies to improve their overall customer service response times and to provide better agent training in the newer contact channels, particularly e-mail.
For 2003, Christmas shoppers saw a marked improvement in response times overall-and to e-mail inquiries in particular. Survey results confirmed that e-mail, equaling 70 percent of all inquiries, has cemented its place as the most popular contact channel among Christmas online shoppers by a wide margin. In terms of response times, nearly 20 percent of those surveyed reported having received responses to their customer service inquiries via e-mail in under an hour, and 53 percent received responses within the 12-hour business day.
"These results indicate many companies are listening to the concerns of their online customers in earnest," said David Puglia, Aspect's senior vice president of global marketing. "We sell Aspect's solutions into organisations using customer service as a differentiator, so we saw a number of companies re-evaluate and re-structure their customer service strategies to suit the online shopper. When you consider that online-shopping revenue experiences double-digit growth every year, providing the best customer service solution isn't just about customer retention anymore, but rather, an imperative for capturing new revenue as it moves online."
Aspect's survey also revealed that 62 percent of the respondents for 2003 found it necessary to contact customer service only one or two times, with more than 90 percent of those contacts either being routine requests for more information on a product or a check-in on shipping/delivery status. 99 percent of those information requests were processed through some kind of a customer self-service system. Respondents for 2002, however, had bemoaned the lack of adequate online or voice self-service systems. The difference indicates that online retailers responded to market demand with new customer self-service functionality for the 2003 Christmas season.
In summary, the survey results for 2003 strongly suggest that the online shopping experience for the majority of respondents was more positive than in past years with only a small percentage (less than 3 percent) reporting any serious problems. Moreover, an average of 53.3 percent of the survey participants also gave high marks for their conversations with "live" customer service agents, emphasising that the agents as a whole were polite, professional, knowledgeable and able to process their requests with a high degree of accuracy.
About the Survey Methodology
Omnibus is a weekly survey fielded to 1,000 members of the Greenfield Online Internet-based marketing research panel in the United States. The panel of 1,000 respondents is weighted by age, gender and household income to be representative of the Internet population. The margin of error is (+) or (-) 3 percent. Questions may be presented so as to deliver yes/no, rating scale, ranking or open-ended responses. Aspect's survey for 2003 was fielded to 1,019 semi-qualified consumers with 800 recipients meeting the survey criteria and completing the survey. 219 of the initial recipients did not meet a certain area of the survey criteria, and as a result, are not reflected in the data discussed in this release.
About Aspect Communications
Aspect Communications Corporation (Nasdaq: ASPT) is the world's largest company focused exclusively on contact centre solutions, and the only one that unifies workforce, information and communications to deliver exceptional customer service. The Aspect brand is trusted by more than 75 percent of the Fortune 50, and more than 3 million customer sales and service professionals worldwide rely on Aspect's mission-critical business communications solutions. The company's leadership is based on 18 years of expertise gained from more than 8,000 successful implementations worldwide. Aspect is headquartered in San Jose, California, with 24 offices in 11 countries around the world as well as an extensive global network of systems integrators, independent software vendors and distribution partners. Aspect's UK offices are in Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex and can be reached on 0800 ASPECT (i.e. 0800 277328).
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