We’ve all been there before. Caught off guard. Even shocked, in a good way.
It can be a little jolting when, after dialing the support number of a massive company, you get a live customer service representative (CSR) who’s ready to help you with whatever you need. Dare I say a “WOW” experience?
At STELLAService, we believe all businesses should aim to provide this kind of time-sensitive support for their customers. When it comes to questions, problems or issues, time is always of the essence. That’s why our methodology for ranking e-retailers has always taken phone and email response times into account when evaluating the overall online customer experience.
Today, we’re excited to continue sharing some of our customer service performance data with the public. Below are the top 10 average call hold times and email reply times of the largest 100 Internet retailers in the US as measured by InternetRetailer:
If you happen to be in the market for a new jacket or a new TV or a fresh new pair of sneakers, chances are that price and selection are nearly uniform across dozens of online stores. As a result, the speed to get someone on the phone or the wait to receive an email reply can make a big difference in who you decide to do business with.
SierraTradingPost.com confirmed its obsession with providing speedy service, delivering the shortest average call hold time of the top 100 retailers. On the other hand, Barnes and Noble (BN.com), which is currently in talks to be acquired, made callers wait the longest with an average call hold time of over 8 minutes.
In the case of emails, it’s fitting that OfficeDepot.com stood out as number one given most of its customers are business-minded people with limited tolerance for slow service.
By contrast, be prepared to give CrateandBarrel.com nearly four days to respond via email if you have a question about those cool new wine glasses.
These data points can help consumers navigate the online shopping universe and discover where to buy if speedy follow-up service is an important factor. In the end, however, call hold times and email reply times are only two of the 350 measurements we take to evaluate the overall service experience of an online merchant. Check out our infographic to learn more about our comprehensive methodology and how STELLAService evaluates the online customer experience.
* Through 1200 calls, e-mails, and “mystery shopping” interactions, STELLAService engaged each business over multiple days and multiple times periods of the day to generate measurements of service performance that have high reliability and construct validity. For the phone support assessment, six phone calls were placed randomly to each Internet retailer, one during a specific time period throughout the business day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). One call was attempted on each day Monday-Thursday and each day of the weekend as well. For the email assessment, six e-mails were placed randomly to each online store, one during a specific time period throughout the business day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). One e-mail was sent on each day, Monday-Saturday.