Slow Response to Customer E-mails Fatal for UK Business

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A slow response to customer e-mails can be hugely damaging to UK businesses, according to a survey released today by Fasthosts Internet.

A slow response to customer e-mails can be hugely damaging to UK businesses, according to a survey released today by Fasthosts Internet, the UK's largest web hosting provider. A survey of 1300 British consumers revealed that a slow response to a customer's e-mail enquiry will negatively affect business image and directly lead 89 per cent of consumers to choose a competitor. 78 per cent of consumers surveyed have been disappointed by a slow response to e-mail, with the average consumer sending three e-mails before receiving a satisfactory response. A further survey of 500 UK small businesses found that one in five UK SMEs had received a complaint specifically about their slow approach to e-mail, and 56 per cent had no policy in place concerning their response time.

Fasthosts' (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/) 'Customer Service E-mail Study', performed by research company Tickbox, found that for British consumers, waiting too long for a response to an enquiry is their biggest gripe when e-mailing a business, with some 78 per cent of consumers having suffered. Unhelpful automated replies came second with 66 per cent of consumers affected and 40 per cent had found out-of-date e-mail addresses. Whilst the majority of e-mails from consumers to businesses involved large companies, one in three Britons have been disappointed with a slow response to an e-mail sent to a small local company they have used.

The research also revealed that e-mail response time directly affects brand loyalty and a consumer's purchasing decision. Over 90 per cent of consumers admitted to being more brand-loyal and more likely to increase spend with a company who responded swiftly to their e-mail enquiry.

The average British consumer is only willing to wait up to 24 hours for a reply, with one in five consumers (19 per cent) abandoning their enquiry after only 12 hours. Women are prepared to wait longer, with 12 per cent prepared to wait up to a week, compared with only 7 per cent of men.

However, a further study of 500 UK small businesses found that despite 82 per cent of companies recognising e-mail to be important to their customers, some 56 per cent had no policy in place concerning response time, and over half had no consistent corporate style for e-mails to customers.

It is therefore unsurprising that one in five businesses (21 per cent) surveyed admitted to having received a complaint about their slow response to customer e-mails. More businesses had received complaints about this issue than traditional small business gripes such as the phone not being answered promptly (14 per cent), a slow response to a customer's letter (7 per cent) or the front desk not being manned (5 per cent).

Fasthosts' study also revealed that whilst consumers saw a strong link between prompt replies to e-mail and their brand loyalty, some 48 per cent of UK SMEs surveyed believed there to be no link between how quickly they reply to e-mails and their sales revenue.

Mark Jeffries, CTO Fasthosts Internet Ltd, commented, "It is clear that businesses of all sizes can incur real damage by responding slowly to customer e-mails. Whilst most recognise that e-mail is an important form of communication with their market, the majority remain misinformed about the kind of effects that poor e-mail practices can have on their business".

Alarmingly, two thirds of businesses surveyed (66 per cent) had no training at all on important e-mail issues such as e-mail management techniques, e-mail etiquette, document management or data retention law. Some 55 per cent provided no formal training to their employees on the day-to-day use of their e-mail system.

UK small businesses also appear to be missing out on the latest ways to speed up e-mail communication. 61 per cent admitted to not utilising a mobile e-mail solution, such as a Blackberry or mobile e-mail device, to communicate with customers. The majority of businesses also admitted that they fail to capitalise on website traffic, with 62 per cent not providing basic e-mail solutions (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/email/) such as functionality on their website such as feedback forms.

Jeffries added, "Both consumers and businesses have much to gain from more swift e-mail communication. British SMEs can see great returns from investing in the way they handle customer e-mails".

Fasthosts, as the UK's largest web hosting (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/hosting/) company, offers a comprehensive range of web solutions including domain name registrations, e-mail solutions (including mobile e-mail services), shared web hosting, dedicated servers, online payment services, reseller web hosting and feature-rich broadband packages.

About Fasthosts:
Fasthosts (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/) is the UK's largest web hosting company. Based in the UK and operating 24x7 from their dedicated UK data centres, Fasthosts keeps over 1 million domains running smoothly and ensures over 6 million e-mails are delivered safely each day. All Fasthosts services can be self-managed through the award winning Fasthosts web-based control panel that provides customers with unparalleled online control, enabling them to manage hosted services including domain registrations, shared web hosting, business-class e-mail, dedicated servers internet merchant accounts plus unlimited broadband. Fasthosts' highly successful reseller channel has recently been rated Number 1 for reseller hosting by industry portal Web Host Directory.

For Fasthosts:
Richard Stevenson
PR Contact
Fasthosts
Discovery House
154 Southgate Street
Gloucester GL1 2EX
Tel: +44 (0)1452 561 857
http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/

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Richard Stevenson
Fasthosts
+44 (0)1452 561 857
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