6 Things Shoppers Want Online Retailers to Know About Customer Service

Customer service is a mission-critical activity that deserves your attention every single day. 

And “satisfaction” is the gauge retailers use to measure their performance. So, we decided to see how shoppers were feeling about customer service. How “satisfied” are they? And what did we find? 

They wanted retailers to show the love.

What Our Survey Looked Like

Back in January, we surveyed 900 online shoppers, and in this blog, we’re going to take a look at their responses. See the full survey results here.

What Did Shoppers Think of Online Customer Service?

First up, 73% of online shoppers said they received good or excellent customer service from online retailers. Only 27% rated customer service received from online retailers as average or below. 

Overall, that suggests retailers are getting the job done. But, beware: you are only as good as your current interaction. Online shoppers focus on what they need right now. Only 12% considered prior interactions with customer service reps as important when using online customer service. 

6 Shopper Behaviors to Consider

Everyone has a story about the service they receive from online retailers. The following behaviors should be a major consideration when you’re striving to deliver exemplary service. 

What’s more, this early part of the year is the perfect time to test your customer service. You can ensure it’s ready for prime time as we build towards the all-important year-end holiday season. 

Let’s take a look at what Show-Me-the-Love Shoppers have to say.

#1. “I like to be in touch as needed”

These shoppers will make contact as often as needed. Some a lot more than others.

Key Finding: Online shoppers are actively using online retailer customer service. Half of respondents interact with it at least monthly.

Surprise: Some are even more outgoing, with 26% of online shoppers interacting with online retailer customer service at least weekly. 

#2. “Mobile is my device of choice” 

Show-Me-the-Love Shoppers are constantly on the go and will use their phones to solve most shopping problems. It’s simply about access and convenience.

Key Finding: 64% of online shoppers complete at least half of their customer service on their mobile devices.

Surprise: 19% of customers use mobile services for all their customer service needs.

#3. “Chat is my favorite way to interact with online retailers”

Online chat is quick, convenient, and allows shoppers to multitask.

Customer service touchpoints

  • 63% of online shoppers favor live chat with a human being for online customer service, and 37% of those who have used it are likely to place an order.
  • Automated chat (bot) saw 52% usage but a low likelihood of converting.
  • Live chat was the #1 converting customer service touchpoint, followed by a phone call with customer service and email.

#4. “I will call you if I need something urgently”

The one big takeaway: never underestimate the power of human contact. 

Key Findings

  • Using a phone call to customer service (62%) is on par with live chat/human (63%) and email (61%).
  • A substantial 31% of online shoppers had an in-store interaction with customer service.


  • Only 11% of respondents had a social media interaction with customer service, resulting in just 5% placing an order.
  • Three customer service touchpoints performed poorly (less than 10% suggest it drove conversion):
    • Text
    • Social media interaction
    • Virtual appointment
  • When using customer service, only 38% of online shoppers considered self-service options on the website important.

#5. “I expect you to respond with the correct answer that meets my needs”

No matter the touchpoint or the technology options, getting customer service right comes down to three critical elements, which haven’t changed for most of us over the years: timing, quality, and competency. 

Key Finding: Superior online customer service centers around getting a timely (75%), quality response (72%) from a competent associate (69%).

Surprise: Despite their prominent presence on retailer websites, only 17% of survey respondents found automated tools such as chatbots important for customer service.

#6. “If you don’t have customer-friendly policies, I won’t buy from you in the first place” 

These shoppers are wondering in advance: what happens if I need to return the product? They hate paying to return an order, and the more options you have for taking back an order, the happier they’ll be.

Key Findings

  • Return dynamics are top-of-mind for online shoppers, finding the following customer service elements essential:
    • Free return shipping (75%)
    • Straightforward, easy return policy (64%)
    • Sufficient time to return products (46%)


  • 75% of online shoppers believe free return shipping is essential when placing an online order.
  • The ability to return an item to a physical location beyond the store, such as UPS, Whole Foods, or FedEx, is essential when placing an order for 44% of those surveyed; this is more than a return to the retailer’s store (39%) or an Amazon store location (18%)


10 “Show Me the Love” Customer Service Care Tips

We’ve got even more great insights to share. Download the full presentation to see our top 10 customer service tips. Get it here.