DMA: Phone Still #1 For Some CRM Functions

The Web is a useful tool in customer-service fulfillment, but the industry has yet to adopt the Web as the standard for providing inventory updates and product returns, according to a Direct Marketing Association study unveiled yesterday.

According to the DMA's State of E-Commerce Industry Report 2001-2002, 62 percent of those surveyed use the Web to provide product information and 55 percent use online order processing. However, only 21 percent use the Web to process product returns and 18 percent provide real-time inventory status updates online.

Many consumers still prefer dealing with a live operator when they return products, the DMA said. As a result most companies have not developed systems to handle product exchanges online, the DMA said.

Some 89 percent of those surveyed said they responded to customer requests within 24 hours. Thirty-four percent of consumer marketers said they responded within one hour, compared to 46 percent of business-to-business marketers.

In another portion of the survey, 71 percent said they had the capacity to communicate through voice and 79 percent had the capacity to communicate through e-mail. Fewer have adopted other Web communications channels, such as chat rooms.

The study is available for $495 for DMA members, $995 for non-members. Go to for more information.

The DMA surveyed approximately 700 companies involved in direct and interactive marketing for the study.

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