A survey has revealed that only five per cent of Australians consumers feel that a company has exceeded their online customer service expectations, according to a new study commissioned by RightNow.

Meanwhile, one in five (22 per cent) people feel that the customer experiences served up online by Australian organisations fall short or do not meet their expectations at all.

The survey, which sampled the views of 7000 Australians regarding customer service in the lead-up to the Christmas retail season and also National Customer Service Week (commencing 4 October), said that failing to provide online customer experiences that meet or exceed customer expectation may have serious repercussions for businesses.

Additionally, 80 per cent of consumers said that if a company doesn’t live up to expectation they will actively look for alternatives. Of that figure, 30 per cent stop doing business with the company altogether.

At the same time, four out of every five (80 per cent) people have made a purchase online over the past 12 months, while 79 per cent will be turning to online stores to aid their 2010 Christmas shopping.

According to RightNow, the findings should serve as a wake-up call to businesses, especially when 62 per cent of Australians said that a company’s website is their preferred method of seeking information – ahead of the phone and email.
A number of elements constitute a good online customer experience, but the study identified the top two as: clearer, earlier information about delivery charges and easier access to information about products.

“Taking time to review where assistance and additional information may be required and what mechanisms can be added or refined to make the buying process smoother and interactions with customer services more satisfying will pay dividends in the end as we know the provision of exceptional customers experiences holds great influence over where a consumer places their business,” Brett Waters, RightNow vice president Asia Pacific – south, said.