Nearly half (49 percent) of consumers continue to find Websites difficult to navigate, with 33 percent struggling to seek help or locate customer service, according to the Connecting with Customers survey, which interviewed more than 6,000 consumers across the globe.
The study, conducted by customer service specialist LivePerson, indicated the results of a poor online experience can be substantial, with 45 percent of consumers stating they will abandon their purchase, 43 percent saying they would feel a loss of trust and 32 percent saying they don't feel valued as a customer.
More than three-quarters of respondents (78 percent) stated they are more likely to be loyal to a brand as a result of a positive online experience, suggesting a positive online experience drives loyalty, and a negative one can be very harmful to a company's bottom line and reputation.
Digital engagement tools like live chat, which provide one-to-one assistance to consumers, are becoming essential for increasing brand loyalty as the amount of time consumers spend communicating with brands online increases, with approximately one in five of consumers (19 percent) spending 50 percent of their shopping expenditure online.
The survey also revealed that 69 percent of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides live, human assistance at critical moments, and 82 percent indicated their perception of a brand improves when live chat is available.
The research shows the window to win or lose brand loyalty is a mere 76 seconds. Consumers expect access to real-time help within 76 seconds, and if they don't get it, they chose the slower, more frustrating option of email or abandon the site entirely.
"The digital era is massively de-personalizing, so anytime brands can engage their customers with a more personalized, human touch, it makes a meaningful difference," Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer at LivePerson, said in a statement. "Our customers continuously push us to develop innovative ways to help them connect with consumers, and this research validates our belief that no matter how connected today's consumers are, they still crave real-time, human communication with brands online, and they want it on the go, from the channel they are in."
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers stated speed and efficiency was the No. 1 factor in creating a great online experience, and 72 percent of consumers cite immediacy as crucial when communicating with a brand when they have a question or need assistance. The majority (56 percent) of respondents indicated they would return as a customer if a brand saved them time online.
Additionally, 88 percent of respondents indicated that chat with a live agent makes their experience better when they need help online, and approximately 45 percent said they'd abandon a purchase if it wasn't possible to communicate with a company representative through live chat if they had a question or problem.