1&1 Internet is among the world’s largest web hosts with 55,000 servers and 7.46 million customer contracts. Recently, the company surveyed 1,025 U.S. consumers about website communication and loyalty. We asked 1&1 CEO Oliver Mauss about the survey and what it means for small to medium-sized ecommerce businesses.
PeC: 1&1 Internet conducted a “Website Communication Survey” to learn more about how consumers feel about being able to contact an online business. What did you find?
Mauss: Customers want to be able to easily communicate with an online business. The ability to contact a business is the most important aspect of using a website for 85 percent of Americans. Approximately 70 percent of consumers have a negative perception of businesses that do not provide ways to communicate directly. A lack of clear contact information such as address and telephone numbers on a business website has elicited a negative emotional response, such as irritation (78 percent) all the way to tears or violence (5 percent). On the contrary, a successful experience contacting a business can cause 85 percent of consumers to bookmark a business website. The study further showed that 89 percent of consumers expect all businesses to have a website regardless of the size. However, they tend to build better relationships with smaller companies. That’s evidenced by the fact 68 percent select an small business for greater personal attention and over half (51 percent) choose an small business over a large corporation because of the individual relationship they build with the business.
PeC: So, listing contact information can increase customer loyalty?
Mauss: Absolutely. The survey found that 77 percent of consumers said that they would switch to a competitor if a business website did not provide effective ways to communicate.
PeC: How do consumers prefer to communicate with businesses?
Mauss: American online buyers are becoming increasingly keen on real-time live dialogue via the web. The survey found that almost half of consumers (49 percent) use live chat and instant messenger tools in their personal lives 11 or more times a month. Over 50 percent of consumers perceive companies that provide communication features such as real-time dialogue, as progressive, advanced and eager to please the customer. As consumers become increasingly tech-savvy, the demand for easily accessible and advanced communication features is becoming more important for websites. Significantly, the majority of consumers (72 percent) will spend less than three minutes searching for contact information on a website before switching to another site.
PeC: And what does all of this mean for an ecommerce merchant?
Mauss: To retain customers, ecommerce businesses must continually research and develop website tools to maintain an interactive web presence. In my view, businesses that fail to recognize the features that attract consumers to a website and fail to use the right tools that turn a consumer into a loyal customer, are more likely to fail in satisfying customers who expect support from start to finish. Overall, our latest research underscores the fact that consumers value an attentive, approachable and easily accessible business. They will not hesitate to move on to a competitor who better understands the meaning of ‘quality of experience.’ Whether it’s the immediate availability of contact information or real-time online messaging, consumers now place high expectations on businesses to provide an instant means of communication.