Is there anything more indefensible—both technically and morally—than poor customer service on e-commerce Web sites? I dont think so.
An e-commerce site can have the best interfaces, great underlying technology and complete interactivity, but if it doesnt treat customers well and isnt forthcoming with information and support, nothing else will matter.
Conversely, a site can have a primitive interface, but if it provides excellent support and treats its customers in an honest and straightforward manner, those customers will probably come back, even though the site isnt the flashiest.
Like any person who regularly shops on the Internet, I have had both types of experience. I regularly return to the sites that treat me right while blacklisting those that dont have the time to deal with me.
Few companies can get away with providing customers with almost no support or updated information. One of the only ones that can is Amazon.com, which regularly fares poorly on consumer rating sites such as www.planetfeedback.com but somehow still manages to remain among the top Media Metrix e-commerce sites.
Heres an example of Amazon.coms idea of customer service: I decided to use an Amazon gift certificate to buy a big-ticket item from Amazon in March. I wasnt in any hurry for delivery, so I decided to choose the free delivery.
A month went by. I received a notice that the delivery would be delayed. The item was marked on the notice as in stock, but there was no information on why the shipment would be delayed.
Another month went by. I received another notice saying the product would be delayed, again without any reason provided. This time, I decided some customer support was in order.