The importance of meeting customer expectations

e-commerce certification authority eTick and the Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) have issued a checklist of do's and don'ts aimed at online retailers and their customers, to avoid some of the problems experienced by some online consumers during last year's festive season.

Consumer frustration, fulfilment problems, returns nightmares and lost customers are some of the potential pitfalls eTick and the CSIA warn about. In the statement, eTick and CSIA estimate last year 600,000 Australians did their Christmas shopping online, spending about $150 million. "In 2000, Australian online Christmas purchasing is expected to increase by 90 per cent to $285 million," the statement said.eTick managing director Brett Whitford said that for online retailers, Christmas provides an opportunity to realise 30 per cent or more of their annual revenues. "Despite this incentive, the level of security, privacy and service provided online is still questioned by researchers and consumers alike."

He cites surveys conducted last Christmas of leading Web sites which found up to 20 per cent of orders either weren't delivered or were cancelled by the retailer.

"At a time when purchases are emotionally charged, e-tailers have a responsibility to take a close look at their policies and practices relating to security, privacy and customer service to ensure they deliver on customer expectations."