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Plumbers and solicitors worst for online customer service with hotels and B and Bs topping the list

Plumbers, solicitors and online marketing businesses come bottom of the list for online customer service while hotels and B&Bs come out top according to new research published today by online search platform Intently.co. The team at Intently.co analysed data from over 16,000 service providers covering 160 business sectors around the world to find out which professions offer the best online consumer experience.

The average response rate for plumbers was just 11% - this means that a customer would need to contact around 10 plumbers in order to get a single response.  For solicitors, the response rate was 15%, meaning that a customer would need to contact around 7 solicitors before they got a response.  In contrast, the top performers were hotels and accommodation services with 33%, and cosmetic surgery companies coming in with 32%.   All the emails sent to these businesses were requests for work to be undertaken, so service providers should have been motivated to respond quickly.

Intently.co’s CEO, Neil Harris says:

“These results are very revealing and show us the business sectors that really need to up their game into today’s online marketplace.  It’s ironic that technology providers have greatly underperformed considering that they cover services such as online marketing, social media consultancy and search engine optimisation – you would expect them to be strong on online communication.  Supply seems to outstrip demand in this area, and these technology providers regularly make unsolicited approaches to potential customers.  This makes it even more surprising that when a genuine lead arrives in a technology provider’s inbox, they don’t seem to know what to do with it.  Home Services includes builders, plumbers and electricians, and just as is the case in the offline world, trying to contact these providers online can be frustrating.

”Intently.co works with companies around the world putting buyers in touch with sellers direct.  We pride ourselves on being able to offer buyers the chance to ‘request any service anywhere, get responses within the hour’.  However, we can only be as good as our service providers since we connect them directly to consumers.  When customers choose who to buy from, cost is important, but speed of response and customer service matters even more.”

Summary of results

Worst five industries for customer service:

  1. Technology Services e.g. web design and development, SEO services, online marketing and social media (5%)
  2. Delivery Services e.g. couriers, flower delivery (11%)
  3. Home Services e.g. plumbers, builders and electricians (15%)
  4. Vehicle Maintenance e.g. car servicing and tyre replacement (15%)
  5. Legal Services e.g. solicitors and lawyers (16%)

Best five industries for customer service:

  1. Holiday accommodation and services e.g. hotels, B&Bs and self catering cottages (33%)?
  2. Cosmetic Surgery (32%)
  3. Pet Services e.g. dog grooming, dog walking, kennels and catteries (28%)
  4. Beauty Services g. beauticians, hair and make up artists (26%)
  5. Venue Services (25%)

Neil continued:

“Apart from a few service groups such as hotels and accommodation services, response rates are surprisingly poor, and this represents a huge opportunity for service providers – if they could improve their response times and be more attentive to customers contacting them via email, then they would make big gains on their competitors in the online economy.  We’re lucky that we’re usually able to send each of our buyer’s requests to 20 or more service providers, so our buyers still receive helpful responses even though overall response rates are low.”

Since 2012, more than 2,000 individuals have used Intently.co as an online marketplace to buy services ranging from patio installation to cosmetic surgery. Intently.co puts buyers directly in touch with sellers and cuts out time spent browsing through websites.

Note to journalists

The survey results were generated in February 2016 and analysed the response rate from 16,000 requests for services sent direct to suppliers.

A detailed breakdown of customer service ratings for 160 services, 430 towns and cities, and 49 countries is available.  If you are interested in details for specific geographies or service categories, then please contact us at neil.harris@intently.co, and we will be able to provide the information you require.

Author: Neil Harris