Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Ian Khan, John Grimm, Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Don MacVittie

Blog Feed Post

UK companies struggle to deliver online customer service

Study finds businesses unable to provide answers to nearly half of basic questions online and close to quarter of businesses shut off email channel

Reading, 5 November 2012: UK consumers are being let down by second class customer service through the web, email and social media channels, according to a new study released today. 100 leading companies were evaluated on their ability to provide answers to 10 routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email. The 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that websites could only answer just over half (53%) of customer questions, while company responses to email queries has worsened since 2011. Social media use had doubled, although many still failed to integrate social media into their overall customer service strategy.

Researchers were unable to email nearly a quarter (23%) of the companies in the study, as they either had removed the opportunity for non-customers to contact them through this channel or email addresses could not be easily found. Just 39% of the 100 businesses actually managed to respond with an accurate answer via email and on average companies took 64 hours 33 minutes to successfully reply to emails - 44 hours longer than a similar study undertaken in 2011. Response times varied greatly - two companies successfully answered email questions in a superfast 19 minutes, but another took one month to reply. Overall every one of the ten sectors surveyed answered emails slower on average than in 2011.

The in-depth study, carried out by multi-channel customer interaction management software provider Eptica, found a huge chasm between best and worst - for example, fashion companies answered a creditable 75% of questions asked on their websites, while CD/DVD/Booksellers and food retailers scored a paltry 40%.

While web performance improved from 2011's average of 50% of questions answered to 2012's 53% there was a major chasm between winners and losers. Over a quarter (28%) of companies performed worse in 2012 compared to last year - despite being asked exactly the same questions, through the same channels.

"At a time when recession is putting unprecedented strain on many companies, customer service is critical if businesses want to win and retain consumers - but this study shows that many organisations are still struggling to provide basic information or answer customer emails," said Dee Roche, Global Marketing Director, Eptica. "The fact that the performance of many companies has worsened over the last twelve months is disappointing to see - poor service will simply endanger sales in today's competitive market. Customers want to be able to contact companies through their channel of choice, so businesses need to adopt a joined-up, multichannel approach if they are to meet their needs."

Many companies seemed to be more successful on one channel than others - excelling on the web but then providing poor responses to email questions. Food retailers could only answer 40% of questions asked via the web, but successfully responded to 70% of emails.

The study also researched how companies were using social media to engage and interact with their customers. On the positive side, social media use had nearly doubled, with 64 companies having Facebook pages (against 33 in 2011) and 70 with Twitter (up from 36 in 2011). However only 11% linked customer service to these social media channels - showing they are still only at the beginning of the social customer service journey.

"Social media is transforming how consumers approach customer service as it provides a megaphone for them to broadcast their complaints to the world," said Dee Roche, Global Marketing Director, Eptica. "So it is positive to see that companies are embracing this new channel - they now need to integrate it with their overall customer service strategy to deliver a joined-up approach that is both consistent and efficient."

The overall average performance masked major differences between sectors and even companies within them. For example one food retailer scored 100%, answering all ten questions successfully - but at the same time three companies in the same sector scored just two out of ten. In total 17% of organisations answered 8 or more questions, however 20% were unable to answer more than three. Only two organisations could successfully answer all ten sector-specific questions asked on their websites.

Sector2012 % answered online (position)2011 answered online (position)
Fashion Retail75% (1st)64% (1st)
Travel63% (2nd)54% (2nd)
Utilities60% (3rd)52% (4th)
Electronics Retail58% (4th)54% (2nd)
Telecoms56% (5th)42% (10th)
Consumer Electronics55% (6th)48% (6th)
Insurance48% (7th)50% (5th)
Banking41% (8th)43% (8th)
CD/DVD/Books40% (9th)43% (8th)
Food retail40% (9th)48% (6th)

2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study methodology
In total 100 company websites across the insurance, travel, CD/DVD/book retail, food retail, electronics retail, consumer electronics manufacturers, utilities, fashion retail, telecoms and banking sectors were evaluated in three areas in Q3 2012:
1. For their ability to answer ten basic, sector-specific questions via their website, such as What is your returns policy if I change my mind after purchase? (retailers) and How do I cancel my contract? (telecoms suppliers)
2. On the speed and accuracy of their response via their email channel
3. How they integrated links to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and forums into their overall customer service strategy.

An infographic that sums up the results can be found at

The 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study report can be downloaded from


About Eptica
Eptica is the leading European multilingual solution for Customer Interaction Management including Web Self-service, Social Customer Service, Email Management, Chat, Fax-Letter- SMS and Knowledge management for Customer Service. Available on premise or SaaS, Eptica software enables website and customer service channels to improve quality of service, resolve enquiries faster, reduce costs and maximize every sales opportunity. Today more than 370 customers, including some of the world's largest brands, in 15 countries, use Eptica solutions to deliver excellent customer service at much lower cost. Eptica's customers include: Dixons, Domestic & General, Haven Holidays, Republic, Panasonic, Virgin Holidays, Capita and Ageas Insurance Solutions.

Eptica is based in the UK, France, Spain and Singapore and operates worldwide through its network of partners. Eptica was awarded the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA in 2009 for the third consecutive year. The company's continuing innovation and strong performance resulted in Eptica's inclusion in Gartner's 2011 and 2010 Magic Quadrants for Web Customer Service.

For further information, please contact:
Measures Consulting
Chris Measures +44 (0) 7976 535147/[email protected]
Uday Radia +44 (0) 7940 584161/[email protected]

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By RealWire News Distribution

RealWire is a global news release distribution service specialising in the online media. The RealWire approach focuses on delivering relevant content to the receivers of our client's news releases. As we know that it is only through delivering relevance, that influence can ever be achieved.

@CloudExpo Stories
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a global leader in monitoring, and testing the performance of online applications, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City. Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.Founde...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
The revocation of Safe Harbor has radically affected data sovereignty strategy in the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Jeff Miller, Product Management at Cavirin Systems, discussed how to assess these changes across your own cloud strategy, and how you can mitigate risks previously covered under the agreement.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment proces...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...