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Lack of company customer contact options put two-fifths people under financial strain

As grocery inflation hits record highs, online-only businesses like Trainline, ASOS, Just Eat and Skyscanner are failing to speak to customers over the phone

Online companies that make it near-impossible to for customers to contact them on the phone don’t just risk losing business, they risk damaging customers’ financial wellbeing. That’s according to a study from customer engagement solution MaxContact, which audited the contact options at 50 of the UK’s most popular online brands combined with surveying consumers.

Customers suffer double hit – financial pressure and anxiety

At a time when grocery price inflation has reached a record high of 17.1%, 40% of customers say they have had to cut back on spending because they struggled to contact an online-only company, for example because they were delayed in reclaiming money from a refund.

Two fifths have even had to cut back on daily essentials including food and toiletries (41%) and energy use (38%). What’s more, over a third (38%) of consumers surveyed said that poor service had caused them anxiety or serious stress.

Online businesses cutting contact options

This is being driven by a lack of contact options available at online businesses. Nearly three quarters (72%) of online-only companies don’t have a phone number on their website, and almost half (45%) don’t even have a ‘contact us’ link on the homepage.

This includes some of the UK’s biggest online brands including Trainline, ASOS, Just Eat and Skyscanner.

For the majority of companies (60%), customers have to trawl through FAQs or the help section of the website in order to find any contact information, and over a third (35%) only supply this if you log in to your account.

Businesses doing themselves out of custom

But it’s not just customers who are suffering. Companies stand to lose business with almost a fifth (18%) of customers surveyed saying they had abandoned a purchase or switched to another brand because they couldn’t get an answer quickly.

However, there is a huge opportunity for those that get it right – the vast majority of customers (85%) say they would be more likely to shop again with a company who made it easy to contact them2.

Ben Booth, MaxContact CEO, says, “With finances tighter than ever, customers are looking for the companies they deal with to support them however they can. Yet a lack of contact options or poor service is hurting customer relationships when retention is a top business priority.

“There’s no one size fits all solution. Sometimes a phone call is absolutely the right way to best help customers – especially when dealing with complex or sensitive cases such as a refund dispute or financial problem. A helpful and knowledgeable agent will reassure customers that their issue is in good hands. But for simple, quick queries, phone calls can be laborious, and customers prefer webchat or email to get quick answers to a question without waiting on hold.

“Having an omnichannel customer engagement platform supporting staff also helps make query resolution more efficient and drives down costs at a difficult time, as well as delivering for customers. The key is understanding your unique customer base to get the balance right.”

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