A new Ovum survey commissioned by customer service ratings agency StellaService has for the first time put a value on great online customer service — and, for 2010, says that it is worth $17.3 billion.
The survey, 'The Value of Great Customer Service,' found that across all online businesses US consumers are willing to spend approximately 9.7% more for great customer service. And, for online retailers, there is even more to be gained with consumers willing to pay a premium of 10.7% for great service.
Based on the average amount spent by online consumers each year, the survey found that $17.3 billion of value can be created in 2010 by internet retailers that offer excellent customer service. "The figures were calculated based on average spend per person per year with each type of company," explains Aphrodite Brinsmead, an analyst on Ovum's customer interaction team. "Value is the extra percentage that people are willing to spend with various types of companies as a result of great customer service."
For the online retail category, the researchers found that the leading factor or consideration for great customer service is speed of delivery. Helpfulness of customer service representatives and ease of access to information on a company's website also topped the list for important elements of customer service for internet retailers.
"We've always known that consumers value great service, but this study is the first to quantify it in terms that people and businesses understand — in dollars and cents," says Jordy Leiser, co-founder and CEO of StellaService. "It's no secret why the companies we've identified as the elite online retailers (such as Zappos.com, Diapers.com, Staples.com and LLBean.com) have steam-rolled through this difficult economic environment; they treat their customers like family and friends. Consumers gravitate toward companies that provide exceptional service, especially in the world of ecommerce."
"The opportunity for internet retailers to build their businesses around providing great service is too big to ignore," he added. "By improving the basic practices and policies that matter most to online consumers, a business can quickly and dramatically bolster its competitive position, improve its financial profile and increase customer loyalty. It's a win for businesses, a win for investors and, most importantly, a win for consumers."