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E-commerce breeding intolerant customers

It seems like e-commerce just came into its own yesterday, but it’s already a decade old. That’s plenty of time for consumers to develop certain expectations regarding doing business online, and those attitudes can spill over to our encounters in showrooms and service departments, too.

A recent survey by Harris Interactive (best know for “The Harris Poll”) revealed that consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about online activity and they’re no longer willing to put up with experiences that do not meet their expectations! Companies doing business online must now pay attention to the customers’ experiences or risk losing them entirely.

The Harris survey of more than 2300 consumers discovered high consumer frustration with issues they are encountering when using e-commerce websites. Moreover, for the third consecutive year, a whopping 87% of consumers participating in online transactions indicate experiencing problems. In the early years, consumers tolerated problems but now they’re becoming a lot less tolerant. The survey identified consumer intolerance this way: 42% of those who experienced problems with online transactions abandoned the transaction entirely or switched to a competitor. Another 52% who have experienced bad customer service from a company’s contact center, following an online issue, have completely stopped doing business with the company. After all, the cost to the consumer of switching is zero and as simple as one “click” and you’re cut out!

It’s becoming clear the internet has changed the consumer’s shopping behavior and expectations. Apparently, companies today are subjected to drastic consequences when they fail to deliver, illustrated by the 42% of online consumers who switched to a competitor after transaction issues. Whether fostered by the internet age or not, we seem to be in the age of the “intolerant consumer.”

So, good customer response looms large for dealers doing online business of any kind. The Harris survey should serve as a motivator to make sure that your website is up-to-date and, especially, functioning correctly without difficulty. Apparently, if you don’t, the result could be just a. . . “click!”


One comment on “E-commerce breeding intolerant customers

  1. Larry Read

    There is no question that the internet and e-commerce has changed all of our lives; however, who and what this survey targets is impossible to determine in how it affects the marine industry. If the layers of the onion are peeled away it seems that several concerns must be addressed.

    First and foremost is what type of purchase is being evaluated. Is it even related to the marine industry? Is it a large sale or a small sale? I would argue that a small sale is one that is completed in a single call and typically involves a low dollar amount. A large sale takes longer, involves multiple calls, and involves a high dollar amount. The sale of a boat more often than not begins with the consumer searching the manufacturer’s web site, the dealer’s web site, and then other dealer’s web site. The decision of the consumer to make the actual call to the dealer can be influenced by both the manufacturer’s and dealer’s web site. Sometimes the dealer doesn’t even hear from the prospect and has no idea that the prospect has visited their web site and choosen another brand or dealer.

    More concerning about this poll is that it represents such a tiny tiny percentage of the overall Internet usage statistics that it can hardly be considered valid. Internet usage by the world region ranks North America third with 233 million. Europe and Asia represent 322 million and 437 million respectively. Although in all fairness, North America represents 69% of the Internet penetration. Nevertheless, with just the top three representing nearly 1 billion in Interent usage, its hard to believe that 2300 respondents is characteristic of what is really happening with customer frustration.

    The vast majority of manufacturers and dealers do an excellent job in monitoring their web sites and subsequently e-commerce opportuities. Let’s not shoot all the dogs just because one has fleas.

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