A national survey conducted by Greenfield Online on behalf of Aspect Communications Corporation, a provider of business communications solutions that help companies improve customer satisfaction, reduce operating costs, gather market intelligence and increase revenue, shows that 45 percent of shoppers will turn to the Internet for customer service this holiday season. The Internet is an increasingly popular destination for holiday shoppers.

Research company BizRate.com reports that online shoppers spent 61 percent more on the day after Thanksgiving this year than on the same historically busy shopping day last year. Looking at holiday shopping across the board, the National Retail Federation reported this week that only 8.2 percent of consumers are done shopping, leaving the remaining 91.8 just three weeks to wrap things up. The Greenfield Online surveys reveal that consumers view service as a big differentiator. Businesses have an opportunity to increase revenue at each year-end by updating their customer service strategy and contact center technology to better address customer service demands.

Customers want faster service and the option of receiving it at their convenience whether they are in the store, on the phone with a service representative, on the phone with an automated system or on the Internet. According to the Aspect-sponsored holiday survey, consumers with questions about gift orders or holiday purchases are still very likely to use the phone to contact a company’s customer service department, with more than half (58 percent) saying that the availability of extended hours of live phone assistance would improve their service experience.

The overwhelming majority (74 percent) of consumers say they think reducing telephone hold time would improve customer service over the holidays; 63 percent would like to avoid being transferred from service representative to service representative; and 64 percent feel that having better informed reps accessible to begin with would improve the overall service experience – most likely also reducing the need for irritating handoffs with aggravated customers taking their business elsewhere.

More than half (52 percent) of customers say that offering quicker access to account or order status would improve service, while 47 percent say that the availability of improved telephone self-service would help retail companies better serve holiday shoppers.

In another, related survey that Aspect sponsored earlier this season, an overwhelming majority of consumers – 82 percent – responded that they would recommend a business to family and friends after having received good service. And 78 percent said they would become repeat customers based on their pleasing service quality experiences.

“These survey results make it clear that the service expectations of shoppers are high. Companies should consider these results, examine their customer service strategy and technologies and determine how they can better satisfy customers and thereby increase revenue,” says David Puglia, Aspect’s senior vice president of global marketing. “We’re very interested in this type of consumer feedback because our solutions help companies use customer service as a differentiator. Aspect’s contact center software provides rapid ROI and allows businesses to affordably and easily improve service over all channels.”

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