Information, answers critical for conversion, loyalty rates: survey

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Providing consumers with better access to information online is the answer to improving both customer acquisition and retention rates, according to a survey being released today by RightNow Technologies and Harris Interactive.

The lack of access to information is one reason for shopping-cart abandonment, according to the survey, with 44 percent of respondents saying that they have abandoned a virtual shopping cart because they could not get a question answered during the online purchase process. The ability to search for information and answers during the checkout process would be helpful to 56 percent of respondents.

"It is critical to have the right information when you are trying to convert customers," said Danielle Wanderer, director of industry and partner marketing, www.rightnow.com, Bozeman, MT. "If you don't have either context-sensitive information or chat-accessible, you are going to lose that person online."

The online survey was conducted March 26-28 and had 2,873 respondents.

Many customers prefer to find answers themselves, either through keyword search, natural language queries or category-based browsing, with 42 percent of respondents saying they would prefer to be able to find the answers they need online by themselves.

However, online chat also presents an opportunity for high-touch, real-time service, with 48 percent of respondents indicating that they would prefer to chat online with a service agent when they have a question while shopping online.

Information can also be key to customer loyalty, with 68 percent of respondents saying they were prompted to browse a Web site after receiving an e-mail from a retailer; 73 percent saying they would appreciate any post-purchase follow-up; and 41 percent saying they specifically wanted a follow-up call or e-mail.

With these results in mind, RightNow Technologies today also releases RightNow Retail, a customer-service platform with solutions that have been preconfigured based on the best practices on some of the company's clients, including Cabela's, Drugstore.com and The Right Start. The preconfigured solutions include customer self-service, online chat, dynamic Web forms and product registration.

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