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Just a few years ago, the default way to get answers to a problem was to try and talk to a real, live person on the phone or in person. But in the same way that shopping has shifted online, more people are looking online first for resolutions to their issues.
In a recent study from cloud-based technology provider TermSync, more than 70 percent of distributor customers would prefer an online service option, such as a customer portal. "Calling customer support is now seen as a hassle and avoided at all costs," according to the report.
But only 30 percent of distributors offer a customer portal – and many of those still fail to provide the most basic of functions. Only 58 percent of those allowed customers to view invoice history, and only 54 percent allowed customers to pay invoices.
"Many distributor executives may worry that technology will come between them and their customers," the report says. "… It is true that sometimes that personal touch is needed, but oftentimes the customer simply wants to get their issue resolved and move on with their day."
So why aren't distributors jumping onboard? According to the study, 42 percent of distributor respondents said it was because other projects had priority. But if having a portal that allows your busy customers to more quickly get on with their busy days, shouldn't it be a priority?
"Today's solutions are not costly, are up and running quickly, and most importantly improve the customer experience."