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Online shopping dominates consumer complaints, delivery and bad attitude worst offenders

Getting delivery right is key to good recommendations

Online shopping, poor delivery, bad attitude and dodgy takeaways have dominated the complaints consumers have made online in 2020.

According to data from Resolver’s Annual Complaints Data 2020/21, which features data on more than 100 of the most complained-about products and sectors, Online shopping dominated complaints with well over a quarter of a million cases (267,141 complaints), up 138% on the previous year. Despite being shut for large portions of the year, high street shopping complaints only dipped by 8% to 65,501 cases.

Package delivery complaints were the second most complained about sector, with 91,906 complaints made specifically about the delivery firms. A further 111,150 complaints about deliveries were made against online retailers, making a total this year of 203,056 complaints about deliveries, with an additional 2,147 complaints about package delivery insurance.

Complaints about takeaways increased by 42% as the nation collectively dined in. The 26,506 cases were split between restaurants and delivery firms and online ordering services.

Resolver’s Chief Executive, Alex Neill, says: “The pandemic has changed life for everyone and its impact on our behaviour, how we live and how we engage with services is here to stay. Given the upheaval, it’s extraordinary that complaints remain at record levels – and it’s worrying that the things people sought help with have transformed too, involving increasingly serious issues.”

He continues:  “Looking back over the last year, we can see that people showed remarkable patience and restraint when faced with the challenges of lockdown. Only immediate problems like refunds for holidays and flights drove the initial surge in complaints. But as the year wore on, we saw patience turn to frustration across numerous sectors. Hundreds of thousands of people began to struggle as some businesses stopped playing by the rules and started making it much harder to contact them to complain. Customer service and consumer rights are non-negotiable, so in the year ahead, we want to see more action taken against businesses and sectors that don’t play ball.”

Poor delivery

This is backed up by separate studies also out this week. A survey by delivery software company Circuit, finds that almost three quarters (72.5%) of customers who shop online saying they are likely or very likely to stop recommending a retailer following a poor delivery experience.

While e-commerce has been on the rise, bringing great opportunity, retailers must be aware of delivery issues and their impact. A third (33%) of people who shop online have experienced a delivery issue in the past 12 months. Consequently, almost 1 in 4 (23.9%) of all deliveries result in a customer being likely to stop recommending the retailer. 

Further, the research found that the problem is bigger than many retailers realise as nearly a quarter of customers (22.5%) who order goods online, experience delivery issues – but don’t complain. This highlights that there is a delivery feedback gap between couriers, retailers and recipients where issues cannot be fixed as retailers are unaware of any problems with delivery experiences.

Attitude matters

In a separate survey, how retailers respond to consumer queries and complaints – not just about delivery – also significantly impacts how shoppers go on to recommend and review them.

A CitizenMe survey, commissioned by eDesk, of  2000 UK and US online shoppers (1000 UK and 1000 US) found that 90% say they talk to customer service before leaving a review. If a problem has arisen, this moment provides sellers a clear chance to redeem themselves. 

According to the data, the top reasons for bad reviews are (UK/US) not dealing with something to the customer satisfaction (49%/42%); having a bad attitude (30%/32%); and taking too long to respond (32%/23%).

eDesk and CitizenMe findings also revealed that shoppers are more likely to leave good reviews than bad ones. In the UK, 33% provide positive feedback after just one positive experience and 34% do so after multiple experiences versus just 13% that leave negative feedback after one poor experience and 7% after multiple disappointing encounters. While in the US, 32% provide feedback after one positive experience, 32% after multiple versus 10% after one negative experience and 11% after multiple.

Interestingly, 87% (US) and 83% (UK) of those who have had a positive experience are more likely to leave feedback if they receive an email request, so proactivity on the seller side is key to growing the business reputation.

In both countries, 44% of respondents read reviews ahead of buying online, which doubles to 90% for purchases of personal technology, followed by 68% UK, 72% US for clothes and 66% UK and 67% US for homeware. Highlighting the value shoppers place in reviews, 40% would only buy from a seller with a below three-star rating if it wasn’t obtainable elsewhere. 

Alex Payne, CEO at eDesk, says: “‘The importance of feedback and reviews as a business driver cannot be overstated. The research proves this but retailers shouldn’t expect all customers to instantly provide feedback. They need a nudge. Between 83% to 87% of customers were more likely to provide feedback with a well timed email. That’s why we have integrated the widest range of channels to our Feedback product from Trustpilot, Google My Business to Amazon Request a Review.’ 

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