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Service Matters Keeping the lines of communication open

By Bronwyn Fryer

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Seeking a competitive edge for your Web site? Then read andrespond quickly to e-mail requests and inquiries from customers andprospects.

Obvious, right? Well, listen up: A November 1998 report byJupiter Communications found 42 percent of Web sites do a lousy jobof responding to customer inquiries--125 top-ranked Web siteseither took longer than five days to reply to customer e-mails,never replied at all or were completely inaccessible by e-mail.According to the study, Web sites "are ignoring theopportunity to communicate with existing and potential customers,discouraging brand loyalty, and opting out of a user-initiated,one-to-one relationship."

Travel sites are among the worst offenders: Nineteen percenttook at least three days to respond to inquiries or never respondedat all. (Retail shopping sites did better-54 percent of themresponded in less than one day.)

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