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4 in 5 customers ‘need support to complete online purchases’

Over 4 in 5 customers (83%) need some form of support during their online journey, and 59% of consumers would like more options in how they connect with brands, according to a new survey.

The Connecting with Customers Report, from LivePerson looked at trends in online attitudes and behaviors of consumers in six different countries.

The report commissioned by LivePerson and performed by third party market research firm Loudhouse, surveyed over 5,700 online consumers from the USA, UK, Australia, France, Germany and Italy to identify changes in consumer behavior and how these changes have impacted online preferences and customer expectations.

The report highlights key trends in online spending and online customer experience expectations. According to this study, 40% of consumers are now spending as much online as they do in store. Furthermore, 71% of online consumers expect to be able to access help when purchasing online within five minutes and 51% will give up immediately or after just one attempt to seek help before an online purchase is abandoned. In addition, the research underlying the report indicates that 93% see real-time help as beneficial when shopping online and 31% will take their business elsewhere unless help is accessible immediately.

Key findings from the Connecting with Customers Report include:

• Speed of abandonment: 71% of visitors expect to be able to access help within five minutes when purchasing online, while 31% expect this help to be immediate. If this support wasn't forthcoming within their expected time frame, 48% state they would go elsewhere or abandon the purchase altogether – with the highest abandonment speed in the UK (58%) and lowest in Italy (39%).

• Online customer service expectations: Globally 83% of online users indicate that they need some form of support during their online journey, and 59% of global users would like to have more choice in how they contact online brands, expressing interest in real-time channels such as live chat (57%), click-to-call (34%), and live video chat (7%). When asked what makes a great customer service experience, the top three factors identified by consumers were getting an issue resolved quickly (82%), getting an issue resolved in a single interaction (56%) and dealing with a friendly customer service representative (45%).

• Real-time differentiator: 93% of consumers see real-time help as being beneficial during their online customer journey, whether it's before, during or after their purchase process. 51% stated that they were more likely to purchase from a website if they could get answers via live chat, with particular demand for this channel in Italy (60%), the US (56%) and Australia (52%). Globally, 48% of consumers indicated that they are more likely to return to a website if live help is available.

Jeremy Sokolic , SVP of Marketing, LivePerson, states, "With consumers becoming more adept and familiar with digital channels, they have come to expect the same levels of help and customer service as they would in a physical store. The research shows that consumers are quick to abandon a purchase and jump to another website if they don't receive the assistance they want, in the timeframe they expect. To drive conversions and really impact customer loyalty, online businesses need to be able to derive insights from consumer behaviour, identify the type and level of engagement that consumers require, and respond accordingly."

The Connecting with Customers Report was commissioned by LivePerson and created by independent research consultants, Loudhouse. The survey was comprised of more than 5,710 online shoppers who had either researched or bought products, or accessed customer services, from a range of different websites. Consumers were surveyed from 6 different countries: USA (2012), UK (1126), Australia (1002), France (538), Italy (530) and Germany (502).

An executive summary and full copy of the report can be found in The Connected Customer blog.

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