French companies are still having trouble responding to some of the questions put by website visitors, despite the widespread adoption of new means of interaction.

French businesses are still managing customer relations on the Internet rather poorly. Eptica, a leading European provider of multi-channel customer interaction software, reached this conclusion following a study carried out among around 100companies in ten different sectors. A series of 10 questions were sent to them, relating both to their particular business fields and to more general topics, such as job opportunities and website functionality. To do this, Eptica used an anonymous email process, so that the companies quizzed were unable to distinguish emails sent as part of the study from queries sent in by any normal customer. The results were not very encouraging. 

More replies…but not always accurate answers

Even though 80% of companies actually replied to the emails (compared with 51% in 2009), barely 20% of them proved able to answer all the questions. Even worse, more than 40% of them didn’t even manage to answer half. On response time, there was a noticeable improvement since the previous survey (30% of the replies came back in less than 6 hours), but one out of five companies still made the customer wait more than 48 hours for a reply. Moreover, speed is of course not the same thing as accuracy and efficiency: two out of three companies that replied within 15 minutes gave wrong answers.

Interaction tools widely used, but not to best effect

Eptica nevertheless concludes its report with a note of optimism, stressing that companies are increasingly equipping themselves with tools enabling interaction with Internet-users. So almost 80% have a FAQ section, and nearly four out of ten have integrated search engines based on key words into their websites. At the same time, social networks are being used more and more: 50% of the companies have a link from their website to their Facebook page. But there again, the situation is less than perfect, since most of the forums on offer here are in English only, and therefore sometimes rather difficult for European customers to use.