Lowe’s Experiments With Customer Service Robots

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Robots are invading the customer service department.

This holiday season, Lowe’s will introduce two autonomous retail service robots in an Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, California to study how robotics technology can benefit customers and employees.

Called OSHbot, the robots will assist customers to quickly navigate stores by directing them to specific products and providing real-time information about product promotions and inventory. In the coming months, OSHbot will also be able to communicate with customers in multiple languages and remotely connect with expert employees at other Orchard stores to answer specific project questions.

“Using science fiction prototyping, we explored solutions to improve customer experiences by helping customers quickly find the products and information they came in looking for,” Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs said in a release. “As a result we developed autonomous retail service robot technology to be an …

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Jordy Leiser: Learnings From Japan’s Culture of Service

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Jordy Leiser is Co-founder and CEO of StellaService.

We hear about customer-centric companies all the time. From Amex to Zappos, we follow and study and praise the innovators, especially here at StellaService.

But halfway around the world–a 15-hour flight from New York, to be exact–there’s a place where the quality of customer service shocks and awes in ways you wouldn’t imagine, even from the most customer-obsessed companies on American soil.

I’m not talking about any particular company. I’m talking about the entire country of Japan.

The Trip I Did Not Think I Was Taking

I recently got back from my first trip to Japan, and as you may be able to tell, I was blown away. It completely changed my perspective on the industry I work in and the opportunities for the companies I work with.

I booked the trip last-minute, and I knew very little about the country or culture beyond the superficial qualities most Americans pick up from restaurants and movies. …

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Zazzle To Give Away Cars to Team Members Who “Amaze and Inspire” Customer Experiences

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As Zazzle staffs up for the holidays, the custom printed product company is offering a unique incentive to employees who help drive fantastic experiences for customers.

A new car.

“We’re going to be giving away two brand new 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth cars to two people who live up to the challenge of the holiday season and embody the Zazzle spirit with perfect attendance during our busiest weeks,” the company said in a blog post.

Zazzle is hiring more than 650 people across a variety of roles in customer service and operations. It’s encouraging to see a retailer invest in both delivering a high level of customer care and rewarding those who provide that experience.

“We’re looking for customer service representatives who can amaze and inspire our customers,” the post said. “We’re looking for talent who can create one-of-a-kind products in our facilities – everything from digital press management to packaging production using highly technical equipment. We’re focused on …

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Google Express Brings Same Day Delivery To More Cities

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The fight for fast deliveries is on.

Google announced this week new details around Google Express, a same-day delivery service that will compete directly with Amazon Prime.

“Our idea was to make shopping your favorite local stores as easy and fast as shopping online, and to help you get what you need delivered the same day,” Google said in a release.

In addition to San Francisco and New York, the service is now available in three new cities: Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Across all cities, more than 7 million people can now access Google’s same-day delivery service, and in Northern California almost 12 million have access to next-day service.

Retailers and brands participating in the program include 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, Nine West, PetSmart, Vitamin Shoppe and Sports Authority, and regional merchants such as Paragon Sports in New York and Vicente Foods in Los Angeles.

Google Express members will enjoy:

  • Free same-day or overnight delivery on …

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NRF Commissioned StellaService To Identify Top Customer Service Metrics

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StellaService VP of Research Kevon Hills joined STORES Media editor Susan Reda for its E-commerce Elite: Consumers’ Favorite 50 Retailers webcast. Joining Reda and Hills for the presentation was Artemis Berry, vice president of digital retail for Shop.org, and Pam Goodfellow, Principal Analyst at Prosper Insights.

The event showcased the findings of this year’s Favorite 50 list of consumers’ top ecommerce websites, and Hills joined to present exclusive new data on the emerging customer service metrics that shape the online shopping experience.

Companies topping the STORES list this year include first-place Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Macy’s.

“We believe that, in today’s competitive market, the service experience is paramount,” Hills said during the webcast. “Companies that focus on differentiating themselves to meet the expectation of shoppers are the companies that will lead their respective industries today as well as in the future.”

“We try …

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Target Now Delivers In Less Than Two Days On Average

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Target had an impressive showing in the Shipping area of the most recent Stella Benchmarks, a sign that the retailer is investing in initiatives to please customers with swift delivery.

The company improved delivery times by three full days in August, besting the competition with an average fulfillment time of one day, 13 hours. That’s a full day faster than its nearest competitor, Apple Inc.

The notable improvement comes three months after Target announced an initiative to fulfill orders more quickly. The company is also testing ship-from-store and StellaService Analysts received several orders in August that originated in locations not within proximity of Target’s distribution centers.

August marks the first time Target has lead the Stella Benchmarks rankings in Shipping, and the third time the retail chain has been in the Top 25 since January. StellaService data shows Target took four days, 15 hours to fulfill online orders the previous month.

A large part of this improvement …

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Winning the Customer Service Game This Holiday Season

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Kevon Hills is Vice President of Research at StellaService. Connect with Kevon on LinkedIn.

The retail world is preparing for the season of giving and shoppers are continuing to turn to ecommerce as a convenient alternative to crowded stores throughout the holiday season. The pressure is on for online retailers as customers are more emotional than ever during the holidays.

At the same time, the holiday shopping season represents a golden opportunity to create customer loyalty for seasons to come.

Throughout the 2013 holiday season, StellaService ecommerce analysts placed multiple orders, made calls, sent emails and live chats to the top retailers to measure the quality of their customer service performance during the holiday crunch time. We also polled consumers in August 2014 to understand expectations specific to the holiday season. It’s no surprise to find that just 5% of consumers would shop again at a retailer that gave them bad customer service during the holiday.

Based on …

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Stella Benchmarks: L.L.Bean Tops Rankings for the Fourth Time in 2014

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L.L.Bean provided the best overall customer service in August, marking the retailers fourth time topping Stella Benchmarks in 2014.

One of the keys to great customer service is matching expectations across all channels. L.L.Bean makes this a priority. The retailer repeated its top performance from the previous month by ranking among the Top 25 in Email, Chat, Shipping and Returns.

Stella Benchmarks includes 139 companies evaluated on a daily basis by StellaService. Customer care channels – Phone, Email and Chat – are measured daily, while fulfillment metrics are measured across multiple orders each month.

Nine companies that did not rank in the Top 25 overall last month earned a spot in August: Gap, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Motosport, Microsoft, Brooks Brothers and Wayfair.

Companies that have ranked in the Top 25 Overall every month in 2014:

  • J.Crew
  • L.L.Bean
  • Zappos
  • Shopbop
  • Net-A-Porter

One of the standouts in the most recent Benchmarks was Target’s …

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StellaService Data Shows Spike in Apple Hold Times Post iPhone 6 Launch

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The release of Apple’s iPhone 6 resulted in customers waiting in lines stretching multiple city blocks. So, what was the wait when calling Apple’s customer service department during the big release?

StellaService Analysts place calls to Apple’s customer service department every day and found that the retailer handled inbound calls on the release date quite well, but struggled the day after.

On Friday, Sept. 19, the Apple customer service team managed to answer calls in 1 minute and 9 seconds, outperforming its average speed of 1 minute and 45 seconds for all of 2014. But, StellaService Analysts experienced a significant wait on Saturday — more than 20 minutes. As part of StellaService’s data collection methodology, calls are abandoned after the wait time exceeds 20 minutes.

Apple only offers Phone and Chat support – no customer service questions are handled over Email or social media.

Apple said Monday that it sold 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models combined after …

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Backcountry.com CEO Jill Layfield On Using Outdoor Experts as CSRs

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The “Shop with a Gearhead” feature on Backcountry.com allows customers to connect one-on-one with an expert that shares the same interests.

A well-designed, innovative ecommerce site paired with top-notch, human-powered customer service seems to be a winning combination for Backcountry.com, an online retailer of outdoor sporting goods and apparel based in Park City, Utah. Backcountry.com’s customer service performance is rated Elite by StellaService, the highest rating tier possible.

The site’s “Shop with a Gearhead” service caught our attention as it allows the site’s shoppers to email, call or live chat directly with a Gearhead (the site’s name for customer service representatives) who shares similar interests, ranging from Alpine Skiing and Backpacking to Snowshoeing, Trail Running and Yoga — and every outdoor activity in between.

We spoke with Backcountry.com CEO Jill Layfield to get a better understanding of …

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