OPERATIONS

Oracle survey: Social media users have higher expectations for customer service

BY Marianne Wilson

Redwood Shores, Calif. — A “Live Help” feature, detailed information about products and services and access to personal account information are the three most important features consumers expect to find at a company’s website, according to an annual survey by Oracle. The company surveyed more than 3,000 consumers worldwide regarding their use of customer service channels including call centers, live chat, click-to-call and email.

The report, “Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012,” found that social media users have exceptionally high expectations for online support: More than half of Twitter users worldwide expect a personal response within two hours of tweeting a question or complaint. And 51% of Facebook users expect a same-day response to questions or complaints posted via the social media site.

Oracle surveyed more than 3,000 consumers worldwide regarding their use of customer service channels including call centers, live chat, click-to-call and email.

It also noted that as consumers spend more time online, they rely more on live help: Half of consumers worldwide browse and research products online daily, nearly double the number reporting daily habits in 2009. Consumer use of online customer service is also on the rise, as 50% consumers use live help compared with 37% in 2009.

“Whether the customer visits the company’s commerce site or social media page, there must be a clear link to a customer service person that is informed and able to help,” said Mike Webster, senior VP and general manager, Oracle Retail. “It is critical that the Live Help platform provide the representative with immediate information on the full context of the customer’s account and recent queries or transactions with the company.”

On the international front, 76% of Chinese consumers are online daily to browse or research products (compared with 49% worldwide) and 60% say they use Live Help to reach customer service (versus 50% worldwide).

In Latin American, consumers are most likely to expect a social media presence: 84%of consumers surveyed in Mexico and Brazil use Facebook and 63% of those using Facebook said they expect companies to have a presence on those platforms.

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OPERATIONS

Francesca’s Holdings’ CFO fired in social media flap

BY Marianne Wilson

Houston — Francesca’s Holdings Corp. fired its CFO Gene Morphis after an internal investigation found that he had “improperly” communicated company information through social media. The company said it began an investigation after discovering his activity on May 11.

"We are disappointed by this situation but we expect our executives to comply with all company policies. We acted immediately on Friday afternoon when we first became aware of the matter and have moved swiftly to replace Mr. Morphis based on the findings of the investigation,” chairman Greg Brennerman said in a statement.

The specialty retailer named comptroller and VP accounting Cynthia Thomassee as an interim CFO while it searches for a permanent replacement.

Morphis had served as the company’s finance chief since October 2010.

According to a report by Forbes.com, Morphis had a public Facebook account on which he often posted about his duties as Francesca’s CFO.

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FINANCE

Canada’s Golf Town to acquire Golfsmith International

BY Marianne Wilson

Toronto — Golf Town, Canada’s largest specialty golf retailer, will acquire Golfsmith International Holdings Inc. for approximately $97.2 million. The Canadian company will pay $6.10 per share in cash, which represents a 30% premium over the Austin, Texas-based Golfsmith’s Friday closing stock price of $4.71.

Golfsmith operates 85 stores in the United States.

On the closing of the deal, Golfsmith CEO Martin Hanaka will assume the role of CEO of the combined company. Sue Gove, president, Golfsmith COO and CFO, will become the president and COO of the combined company.

“We hold Golf Town in the highest regard and believe them to be an ideal partner to take Golfsmith to the next stage of growth," said Hanaka.

Golf Town is owned by OMERS Private Equity and operates 54 stores across Canada and seven stores in the greater Boston area.

“Golfsmith is a company that we have admired for years. This transaction will give us a formidable footprint in North America and will also provide a strong platform for future growth," said Don Morrison, senior managing director and Canadian country head of OMERS Private Equity.

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