Organisations are losing business with websites that fail the consumer, according to a recent Empirix survey. While the home page may look good, problems elsewhere in the site may be alienating customers.

The 2000 UK consumers who participated in the survey reported that major banks, retailers and travel companies are being let down by their websites. Nine out of 10 users gave up on a transaction after three tries, and a third never returned to a site that let them down, said the survey. Web users will not tolerate poor web application performance, said Empirix, which provides targeted testing and monitoring solutions for companies.

Online consumers are let down especially by the ‘order processing’ and ‘goods received’ sections of retail websites, said Mark Aldridge, EMEA sales director for Empirix. Even after a slow response on the web, many users find that the goods received in the end are totally different from what they ordered.

The biggest potential problems were with multiple orders and large ‘white goods’ or electrical products, which are often delivered at the wrong time, or not at all. “Most websites don’t fulfil the option of delivery time. And what is even more frustrating is the process of reporting a problem,” Aldridge explained. “Consumers have to ring up a call centre because there is no such facility on the website.”

The survey reported web design problems in the retail and travel areas as well. For example, a website offering flight incentives pointed to a page to choose flights from, which didn’t exist.

“Such websites also have unnerving payment options at times. Users sometimes receive no confirmation after entering their credit card details. They then have to phone the website call centre again, or call the credit card company after a few days,” said Aldridge. This made the whole online exercise pointless. Some consumers reported having followed up a particular transaction only to discover that they had been billed twice, he added.

“Customer expectations have evolved over the last few years. It is easier for them to go online, research and decide on a product. But companies have not developed their services for what is called the ‘customer lifecycle’,” said Aldridge. “Furthermore, the British are not traditionally renowned for reporting complaints immediately. But on the web you are anonymous. This makes people move away even faster.”

Highlights from Empirix’ survey were:

  • Nine out of 10 respondents (91 percent) gave up on Web sites after a maximum of three failed attempts to conduct a transaction, and only one percent bothered to call a company to try and complete their transaction.
  • One-third of the respondents (36 percent) said they would no longer do business online with a particular company as the result of a negative online experience.
  • One in five (20 percent) reported that a negative online experience had caused them to stop doing business with a particular company entirely, both online and offline.

Not only do unfriendly websites lose customers, they soon begin to impact revenues as well, concluded Aldridge.

A free summary of Empirix’ web survey can be downloaded here: http://www.empirix.com/surveyresults