As retailers continue to adjust their online presence to improve consumer experiences, the complexity of the underlying source code has increased. Few Web sites operate error free, especially in the multitude of browser 827556_signoptions available to consumers. Unfortunately, about 8 out of 10 consumers encounter at least one problem during their online transactions and many consumers have something to say about these negative experiences. The simultaneous growth of social media sites means consumers can easily connect with each other and comment on specific companies, products and services. Though these comments may not be addressed to marketers, they ignore these frustrated consumers at their own risk.

The 5th annual Tealeaf survey of online consumer behavior finds consumers encounter problems at the following levels:

  • Error messages 38%
  • Endless loops 19%
  • Log in difficulties 28%

Failing to detect and address these problems costs online marketers the business of nearly 1 in 3 consumers who go elsewhere to make their purchase.

The survey also revealed a shift in consumer behavior that could mean trouble for marketers. Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage of consumers who experienced problems at an online site and then reported the incident to the marketer dropped.  Instead, consumers seem to be going directly to their social media site of choice and posting their negative experience.

The opposite proves true as well. Customers who have enjoyed a positive experience also discuss their experiences at social media sites. The survey indicates that these positive reviews influence nearly  1 in 4 online shoppers.

These findings underscore the need for marketers to monitor their online reputation. In doing so, they will be committing more resources to detecting and handling consumer comments and concerns. The more successful marketers will be those who quickly address consumer concerns in a satisfactory manner – as the separate functions between online marketing, social media and old-fashioned customer service continue to merge.

[Source: Tealeaf release, October 6, 2009]