Sick of Being Told to Go Climb a (Phone) Tree?

Avg Hold Time

Ever been told to “Go Climb a Tree“?  Well, we have and it’s quite rude.  Unless you’re remarkably dense (or you’re a squirrel), being told to go climb a tree is something no online shopper should experience.  With that in mind, why are so many retailers eschewing good customer service and essentially telling us to do just that? 

Using data for the power of good, we’ve come up with some interesting customer service facts about the use of phone-trees and how it impacts retailer call hold times.  Only 21 of the Internet’s top 100 retailers connect shoppers directly to a live agent. That list expands to 22 if we also include 1-800 CONTACTS, which falls just outside the top 100 at #101 (We’re especially impressed that a business that bears its customer service phone number as its name, which leads to even higher call volume, steers clear of an IVR to ensure the best possible experience for shoppers).

Unfortunately for shoppers, …

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What’s the Key to Great Customer Service?


Reading “The Key To Great Customer Service” on the Harvard Business Review’s website puts the meaning of great customer service into perspective.  The author of the article explains how a woman working behind the counter at an Amtrak station saved the day for both her and her friend.  The problem was solved because the Amtrak worker took direct responsibility for a situation and provided it with a simple solution.

What was the problem?  The author had been staying at a friend’s house while they were away and had accidentally taken the apartment keys with her to the train station.  Had she boarded the train with the keys, her friend would have been locked out of their apartment.

What was the simple solution?  The woman at the Amtrak counter offered to hold the keys at the counter.  She told the author to pass her personal cellphone number along to her friend who had lent the apartment out and explained that the friend could pick the keys up at the …

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Shopbop, Service, and Booties


The following is a guest blog-post from our friend Stephanie at Le Cheap c’est Chic.  Stephanie is a twentysomething who loves fashion and documents her passion for it through her blog.

We were fortunate enough to catch a Twitter interaction between Stephanie and the company she mentions in her post.  We took a look at her amazing blog and realized that her love of fashion would help us prove a great point — that a company’s service transcends its products.  Be it commodities like paper towels and batteries, or high fashion items like Isabel Marant Tan Lacow booties, the experience from ordering these products is of the utmost importance.  

Thus, without further introduction, Stephanie’s experience:

After a never ending search for the much-coveted Isabel Marant Tan Lacow booties—a cult footwear shoe of sorts within fashion circles—that was met with no success on eBay (my go-to shopping site for staking out my wishlist items at a fraction of the cost) …

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Competition and Customer Service


Earlier this month, The Atlantic put together a list of The 19 Most Hated Companies in America based on the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI).

As an introduction to the list, David VanAmburg from the ASCI points out that all of the companies included operate in industries that lack a high degree of competition — i.e.  commercial banking, utilities, and cable companies.  Not coincidentally, this means that customers of these companies who’d like to switch to a competitor have a very laborious task in front of them — it’s difficult and expensive to do so, and you’re not transitioning to a company that’s assuredly better.  This puts the customer in a serious bind.

The online retail  marketplace offers a positive contrast to the above predicament.  The existence of many retailers offering similar products at nearly identical prices effectively shows how increased competition begets increased (read: better) customer …

Read More’s iPad 2 Pricing Snafu

Steve Jobs Ipad

For a brief window on Sunday July 15th, had set its pricing on the iPad 2 at $69.  For those not in the market, that’s nearly a $700 discount off the standard $744.99 price.  Like many internet trends, this discount was scintillating and ephemeral.  As friends told friends and so on and so forth, the haphazard pricing mistake quickly made its way through Twitter and Facebook feeds alike.  Once an alarming number of shoppers snatched up iPads at a discount deeper than Barry White’s baritone, finally took notice.  As a result, they’ve cancelled all orders made at the aforementioned discount and issued a statement to shoppers:

“We want you to know that, unfortunately, today one of the Marketplace third party sellers told us that they mistakenly posted incorrect pricing information on two Apple iPad models on the Marketplace portion of the website. If you purchased either of these products recently, your order has been cancelled and your …

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You Like Us, You Really Like Us!

jim carrey mask

We’ve noticed you admiring our data — don’t be ashamed, we’re proud of it.  As we continue to evaluate the full spectrum of online retailers, we’ll be releasing even more exciting information.  As this happens, we want all the online shoppers who value great customer service as much as we do to join the conversation.

So please, go ahead and become ‘like’ us on Facebook at  This way you’ll be able to keep current with which online retailers offer their customers the best when it comes to service, and we’ll be able to get your feedback on what matters most when it comes to serving online shoppers.


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We Find Out Who Really Delivers: The Infographic


They say you never want to see how your sausage is made. They’re probably right. But when it comes to the STELLAService evaluation, we think it’s important for people to know how it all goes down.  We’re focused on bringing transparency to the world of online customer service, so it only makes sense for us to be as upfront as possible about how we go about evaluating the service performance of Internet retailers.

To that end, we’re excited to unveil our first ever infographic!  Take a look at what, why and how we do what we do, and see what an e-retailer must really go through – and deliver on – in order to earn the STELLAService seal.

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Connecting Customers in a Whole New Way…

Connecting Customers

At STELLAService, we order and return A LOT of products from A LOT of retailers.  We’ve gotten tons of amazing responses when it comes to returns, both positive and negative.  However the email chain below may take the cake for the most bizarre response to a customer initiating a return we’ve seen thus far (click the image below to see the thread full-size and begin reading from the bottom up).  

Although this is a great way to connect like-minded customers to one another, we doubt it’s in anybody’s best interests for retailers to be passing out customer’s mailing addresses.

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Handbag Hand-offs: It’s the Little Things


Last week in the STELLAService offices there was discussion around the differences between brick-and-mortar retail stores and their online counterparts.  The conversation mostly focused on how retailers can ensure that their online service experience is commensurate with the experience they provide in-store (and vice versa).  The conversation began because someone had mentioned Coach’s fantastic in-store customer service.  One of Coach’s nicer in-store touches is that after your purchase has been made, the associate that helped you walks around from behind the register to hand you your purchase.  Previous to this, we doubt that anyone didn’t buy something at a Coach store because nobody came from behind the counter to hand them their purchase.  That said, we can guarantee that the simple gesture of handing a customer whatever they bought goes a long way towards ensuring that they feel appreciated and that they’ll remember that experience in the future. …

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