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A third of tech firms fail to reply to Web-based enquiries from customers, according to a survey by US-based consultants.

In its latest study into how companies treat their customers online, The Customer Respect Group found that six out of ten firms responded to email requests within 48 hours, while one in ten took four days or more to reply to a customer enquiry.

Of course, the most staggering is figure is this third of companies that didn't reply at all.

Said Donal Daly, CEO of The Customer Respect Group: "The most pressing issue for one-third of these companies is simply to begin responding to customer inquiries. Nothing turns off a customer or potential customer faster than getting no response."

"If they want to capture new customers, or even keep the ones they have, they're just going to have to treat them with more respect."

The best-performing companies were Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Xerox, IBM and Microsoft.

The worst offenders were EMC, Ingram Micro, and Tech Data.

The research also found that three in ten companies used an autoresponder to reply initially to an email, but two in ten companies failed to follow this up with a proper response.

Five per cent of tech companies failed to provide any contact information whatsoever on their Web sites. ®

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