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At Their Service

Although money's tight, don't even think about skimping on good online-customer support.

By Melissa Campanelli

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Because customers always demand good customer service online, e-tailers should never abandon their customer service initiatives--even during uncertain economic times. "The economy is affecting IT and people's budgets, and customer service initiatives are often the first to go," says Paula Rosenblum, retail research director at AMR Research in Boston. "But at the same time, companies are very aware of the importance of customer service."

Customers who shop online increasingly expect excellent customer service, according to a recent survey of 2002 holiday season shoppers conducted by AMR. Among customers who purchased gifts online that year (online shoppers, by the way, spend about 25 percent more than their offline counterparts), 20 percent had what they described as a "bad experience" and do not plan to return to those sites.

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