1- The e-commerce report 2011 issued by the Telecommunications Market Commission indicates a negative balance of more than 600 million Euros with regards to the foreign markets, that is to say, the Spanish consumers buy more in foreign web sites than national sites, do you think that this could be due to an insufficient quality of customer care services?
I believe that it is not about customer care, but more specifically about a lack of offer for the consumers. It is true that there are more and more companies in Spain that sell on the Internet. If we look at the figures, Europe sells 175,000 million of Euros, which is 39% of the number of global sales. The figure is important, as it shows that Europe sells more in the Internet than the USA. However, the two leading e-commerce companies in Europe are American (Amazon and EBay). The European Internet users buy, but they need a wider offer.
2-How do the social networks influence the purchases of the consumers?
Currently, the sales through social networks are 2% of the total. However, the conversations contained in the social media are like a point of sale. The consumers don’t trust brands, they trust people. Recommendations turn into sales. Conversations are vital to sell online.
3-Are we profiting of the social media enough in Spain?
Some yes, and some not. We are still lacking a lot of presence in the social media, probably due to the fact that many companies still do not dare to be there, as they don’t have a defined and clear strategy. One can’t be present in the social media just to be there, you need to define a strategy and invest in it. It is always said that the social networks are free, that being present in Facebook has no charge, but the reality is that you need to invest in having personnel that understand the social media, and that know how to execute a good strategy.
4- Since Internet makes distances shorter and the TMC report shows that the consumers buy more outside that inside of Spain, do you believe that there are new opportunities for e-commerce start- ups in Spain? Or do you believe that the market is already saturated by foreign products and services?
In Spain we are manufacturers of interesting articles, and there are many opportunities: food industry, shoe industry, etc. Some companies are already exporting, such as wine and oil producers, and they have a great future ahead of them. There is a long way that can be developed and many opportunities for start- ups.
5- What do you think is the reason why companies do not jump into e-commerce?
Before the barrier was cost, as there was a need of a big investment to start on online business. Now costs are much lower, so the main barrier should be technology and having the adequate training to manage the online world. If you don’t have the adequate team, it is essential to contract a specialized one.
6- Do you believe that good customer care is a differential value for a brand/ product?
Customer care is essential, but not only the service by itself, but the customer Experience. As the founder of Starbucks said during a forum just recently, we have to transform customer care into an experience. You have to get recommendations. We can do it making the customer care services more efficient. Now the processes are shorter, there is less time to give an answer, and the internet user is expecting an answer through the same channel that he used for contacting.
7- Several studies from Oracle indicate that the Spanish and French e-commerce companies have customer services of less quality, which translates into lower sales in comparison to other countries. What do you think that Spanish companies could do to equate the rest of the countries?
Give coverage of customer care services demanded by consumers. With the social media we have to offer help and answers 24 hours a day. We can’t have big companies, such as Iberia, which limit their customer care times, even if they have flight every day of the year, every hour of the day. People expect answers, and we have to make the effort to fulfill their expectations.
It might be a cultural issue, that companies still need to have defined strategies, and that we need to invest in an efficient customer care services through digital channels.
8- Do you believe that companies specialized in customer care services could help to increase the value of the Spanish e-commerce companies?
For large e-commerce companies, most definitely. In the case of small and medium companies, it is different, as they can survive with an internal customer care service. However, it would be an advantage for large companies to outsource their contact centers to offer a good time coverage which is demanded by consumers throughout all channels.
9-Profiting from social media, is it a pure technological issue?
All the opposite. It is not technological, it is completely human. Customer care is a strategic and human contact issue, be what it may the channel of contact. You need human beings to analyze the recommendations and interactions and give adequate answers.
10- Which would be your piece of advice for large Spanish companies, as well as for small and medium companies that are starting their trip through social media?
Large companies, as well as small and medium companies need to thing about their strategy to benefit from the digital economy. The problem is that many companies come from the industrial age, and now we are in the digital age. You have to think as if your company was born today, and think how you would to it all. It is important to take advantage of the opportunity of the internationalization and be flexible. It all goes by investing in the digital strategy.