The same survey showed that responsiveness was poor overall: of the 290 successfully delivered e-mails, a 62 per cent response rate occurred within a 28-day period. For over a third of companies there was zero response!

Of the companies that did respond, there was a difference in responsiveness (excluding immediately delivered automated responses) from 8 minutes to over 19 working days! Whilst the mean overall was 2 working days, 5 hours and 11 minutes, the median across all sectors (on the basis of the fastest 50 per cent of responses received) was 1 working day and 34 minutes. The median result suggests that response within one working day represents best practice and could form the basis for consumer expectations.

Responsiveness is also indicated by the performance of the web site: the time it takes for a page request to be delivered to the user's browser as a page impression. Data from monitoring services such as Keynote ( indicate that there is a wide variability in the delivery of information and hence service quality from web servers hosted at ISPs, and companies should be careful to monitor this and specify levels of quality with suppliers in service-level agreements (SLAs). Table 7.2 shows the standard set by the best-performing sites and the difference from the worst-performing sites.

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