Next, M&S, B&Q offer best customer communication, but most UK retailers fail to answer consumers

At a time when retailers need to be as engaged as possible with their customers, a new report has revealed significant failings when it comes to customer service performance across the UK’s leading retail brands.

Findings indicate that more than two-fifths (42%) of inquiries are ignored or left unanswered, and only 13% are answered fully and in a timely manner.

the Convers-AI-tional Nation Reportperformed by the customer interaction platform CM.comanalyzed the performance of the top 25 UK retail brands based on annual turnover figures from retail economicsposing common customer queries to every available communication channel: website, phone, email, online contact form, chatbot, callback, voice bot, live chat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram.

The questions ranged from simple FAQs like ‘How can I present a complain?’ to more specific queries such as ‘How can I return an item?’ Brands were ranked according to metrics related to responsiveness and effectiveness, and companies scored based on their response times (ranging from less than five minutes to more than ten minutes) along with the quality of the response provided (answered in full, partially or not). everybody).

According to the report, Next, M&S and B&Q lead the way when it comes to the number of customer communication channels available to shoppers. All of these brands offered eight or more customer service channels, and questions were answered more efficiently and effectively than brands with fewer available channels. Overall, the study found that only 8% of audited retailers offer customer service support through a human agent 24 hours a day.

The findings also reveal that retail brands that offer more ways for consumers to get in touch were able to provide timely and more comprehensive responses to questions posed. Those brands, in turn, had higher annual turnover, with the top 10 customer service retail brands earning more than £7.2bn more than the average turnover of those brands ranked in the bottom 10.

The study indicates disparities when it comes to customer service across different subcategories within the retail sector. Overall, e-commerce companies lead the way in responsiveness to customer inquiries, as well as having the second-highest number of customer support channels (averaging 6.5) compared to with grocery brands (6.1), home and electronics (6.1).

Apparel companies averaged the most customer service channels at 7.3 among retail companies audited. Overall, the findings highlight that the Home and Electronics brands have the most work to do when it comes to customer service, with unanswered inquiries and open lines of communication for shorter periods of time. time, compared to retail brands in other categories.

James Matthews, Country Manager, UK & Ireland at says of the findings: “As the retail industry prepares for the busiest period of the year coupled with the backdrop of challenging economic conditions, delivering exemplary customer service experiences must be a priority. Automating customer service with chatbots is one option for brands to scale their operations during Black Friday and peak retail period, allowing them to handle popular questions about shipping times and stock levels efficiently. Another option for brands is to combine human agents and AI chatbots, which can help resolve customer queries effectively and improve the overall experience. Having this in place should no longer be seen as just nice, but an opportunity to generate significant ROI and long-term loyalty.

“While the study has revealed gaps and discrepancies in customer service in the retail sector, it also highlights considerable opportunities for brands that are proactive in putting measures in place to ensure they deliver positive experiences. Not only does this have a huge role to play in driving overall customer satisfaction and engagement, but there is clearly a clear link between better customer service and higher churn, which is now more important than ever.”

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