Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 1 – Phone Support)

November 30, 2011 / 10 Comments

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Note: this is the first in a three part series looking at the customer service performance of the top 25 online retailers during the 2011 Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend. View Part 2 (Email Support) and Part 3 (Live Chat Support) for a complete view on how the largest online retailers cared for customers during the big shopping holiday.

Despite the many ways consumers can connect with a company for customer service, the telephone is still the most widely used customer service channel for online shoppers. According to Forrester, 69% of online consumers use the phone when seeking customer service help (followed by 55% who use email).

As a result, we think online shoppers should be especially aware of the findings from our 2011 Cyber Monday Customer Service study. For the first time, STELLAService is providing an unprecedented inside look at which stores provide joyful customer service during the holidays, and which stores are likely to deliver a full-serving of slow, frustrating support as you do your online holiday shopping.

We found some of the numbers especially interesting:

  • The average call hold times were, on average, 139% higher for the top 25 retailers this weekend than they normally are, according to our baseline data for the same set of retailers during the first two weeks of November.
  • The average call hold times on Cyber Monday were significantly longer than any other day, as it it took over seven minutes on average to reach a live customer service agent.
  • Two online retailers (Nordstrom.com and Zappos.com) actually provided faster than normal service over the weekend, showing they were especially ready to please holiday shoppers — an amazing accomplishment!
  • Only three retailers kept shoppers waiting less than one minute: Nordstrom.com (0:17); Overstock.com (0:44); LLBean.com (0:46).
  • Traditional multi-brand retailers generally delivered better service than the brand manufacturers, which makes sense as the manufacturers specialize in making the products, not necessarily selling and servicing them.
  • More than 25% of the retailers forced shoppers to wait longer than 5 minutes to speak with a representative, and some even made shoppers wait much longer.

Did you place calls to any of these retailers over the weekend? If so, what was your experience like?

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Methodology: Baseline data was collected by calling each retailer each day (350 total calls) over a 14 day period, from November 1st through November 14th, asking general customer service questions on each call (product questions, shipping or returns information, etc). Black Friday through Cyber Monday data was collected by calling each retailer five (5) times each day over a four day period, from November 25th to November 28th. Calls were placed at random during the following time-blocks to generate measurements of service performance that have high reliability and construct validity: 8:00 -11:30am EST; 11:30 – 2:00pm EST; 2:00 – 5:00pm EST; 5:00 – 8:00pm EST; 8:00 – 11:00pm EST.

10 thoughts on “Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 1 – Phone Support)

  1. Pingback: Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 2 – Email Support) « STELLAService blog

  2. Pingback: Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 3 – Live Chat Support) « STELLAService blog

  3. I feel that with every company whether being on line or a shop, the most important thing to remember that Customer Service is the number one factor as without your customers you will not succeed, so you have to make sure that you treat your customers as if they are gold and make sure that there experience with your company is a good one so that they will return again and again. Also you have to make sure that when your customer service helpline is ringing it is answered as soon as possible to keep all customers happy. That what I do with my online Clothing company.

    http://www.goodtogoclothing.co.uk

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