Best Buy Pulls Email Support From Customer Service Page, Favors Live Chat

December 11, 2012 / 10 Comments

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Best Buy Inc. has eliminated the email contact form on its customer service page, saying it’s instead pouring more resources into live chat.

The option to email the company from the customer service page was pulled last week.

The company told Happy Customer that email is “unable to offer the same level of in-the-moment assistance.” The decision was also influenced by customer feedback, as 20% of respondents to a survey of Best Buy’s online shoppers said they prefer live chat.

It’s worth noting that another major retailer – Apple Inc. – does not offer email support.

Best Buy has also experienced a bump in efficiency with live chat, citing a 36% improvement in contacts handled per hour versus phone support. The company said that has led to a 20% increase in conversions.

Still, STELLAService found that Best Buy’s live chat performance struggled during Black Friday through Cyber Monday, as live chat was listed as unavailable on the site for 95% of attempts. Data was collected by attempting five interactions each day during five separate time blocks. STELLAService also captured screenshots of those failed attempts.

Similarly, just 15% of emails were responded to within 24 hour for the same time period. And the quality of Best Buy’s recent email responses has attracted public criticism.

The electronics retailer has been closely watched this holiday season after customer service woes in 2011. Last holiday season the company angered customers when it waited until days before Christmas to inform them that some orders placed a month earlier would not be fulfilled.

At an analyst and investor conference last month, Best Buy President and Chief Executive Hubert Joly said “the company’s first priority is to continue to improve and evolve the customer experience.”

A lesser emphasis on email and a greater commitment to live chat seems to be part of that strategy.

10 thoughts on “Best Buy Pulls Email Support From Customer Service Page, Favors Live Chat

  1. Pingback: Best Buy No Longer Wants Customers Contacting It By E-Mail – The Consumerist

  2. Pingback: StorefrontBacktalk » Blog Archive » Best Buy Yanks E-mail Support From Its Site. Shoppers May Be Better Off

  3. If they can keep up with the volume for live chat, it should be a quicker way for customers to get their support. The numbers shared in this post are surprising. Obviously, Best Buy is trying to improve their customer support, which according to the
    public (their customers) is something need to do.

    • Shep, I agree that it’ll be good for their customers if Best Buy can do live chat well, and maybe closing down email allows them to focus on being great at chat, but I’m incredibly skeptical of their decision.  

      It sounds like it’s motivated by improving efficiency rather than improving customer experience.  Maybe that efficiency gain will translate to a better experience if it allows them to be less overwhelmed, but right now at 2:49pm, their chat status is unavailable and as a customer who avoids dial-3-for-service phone trees like the plague, I feel like I’m hitting a dead end.  Chat’s also only available until 1am EST, so if I’m in San Francisco at 10pm, I have to either enter their phone tree or wait until tomorrow.  It feels like a very blocked experience that’ll lead to a lot of customers giving up.  

      Maybe it’ll improve some efficiency metrics and will decrease contacts, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how it won’t block sales and leave a lot of customers at a dead end. 

      • Agree. It shouldn’t be about efficiency, unless it becomes more efficient for the customer.  When we deliver support, we need to think about ease of use (instant chat versus phone, email, etc.), convenience, speed of response and more.  Are our support hours for our convenience or the customers. I don’t know all of the details of the Best Buy program.  Hopefully they are just going through some growing pains as they focus on this
        new support platform.

  4. Very interesting development. Best Buy has previous history with doing customer service well through new channels such as Twitter and Facebook, but the recent stats from this post aren’t very promising.

    I think John Rote may be on to something that this is a decision motivated by efficiency for Best Buy versus what’s best for the consumer. A large percentage of customers in general prefer email over other channels. I’m not quite sure why Best Buy couldn’t do chat AND email well other than an unwillingness to commit the necessary resources.

  5. Pingback: Struggling Best Buy Deletes the Email Option From Customer Service | News to Watch

  6. Pingback: Struggling Best Buy Deletes the Email Option From Customer Service - stocksdailynewsinfo.com

  7. Pingback: What’s it going to be? Chat or email? Why not both? « BoldChat – Bold Blog

  8. Pingback: Best Buy Brings Back Email Support Due To Customer Demand | Happy Customer

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