June 14, 2001, 12:00 AM

E-mail communication still needs refinement, says the e-tailing group

E-retailers still have some way to go in communicating with customers via e-mail, a study of 50 sites by Chicago-based consultants the e-tailing group reports. For starters: accurate answers to e-mail questions.

E-retailers still have some way to go in communicating with customers via e-mail, a study of 50 sites by Chicago-based consultants the e-tailing group reports.

In April, e-tailing group consultants made purchases at 50 sites. They then sent an e-mail question that required a personal response. Here’s what they found:

--The average number of hours between when the e-mail was sent and when consultants received a reply was 12.63, down from 14.13 in the fourth quarter of 2000;

--However, 38% sent an auto-reply, up significantly from the 23% that sent auto replies in Q4 2000;

--The percent who answered the question correctly dropped significantly, to 73% in April from 81% in Q4 2000.

“Our concern is that in order to have efficiency, retailers are relying on technology,” says Lynn M Pregont, partner affiliate at the e-tailing group. “But any technology is only as good as human programming. Retailers need to take the time to program this correctly.” The goofs in e-mail are not turn-offs-yet-to online shoppers, she says. “”It’s early enough in Internet shopping that this is more a red flag than a turn-off,” Pregont says. “But merchants need to address the problem.”

 

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