3 Retailers That Provide Delivery Estimates Shoppers Can Trust

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Last week on Happy Customer we discussed the concept of Order Life Cycle. This week, we’ll hone in on the first half of that cycle: Delivery. And not just speed, but how retailers go about setting expectations for the timing of those deliveries.

In addition to various speed metrics around fulfillment and transit of packages, StellaService Analysts collect and compile data regarding how retailers set delivery expectations. After placing orders, analysts evaluate communications sent to determine whether or not retailers provide delivery estimates. From there, they can be categorized as Specific Date or Date Range Estimates, and each order placed is measured against the provided estimate to determine accuracy and timeliness.

After placing tens of thousands of orders over the years, we’ve seen it all. Delivery estimates from online retailers come in many shapes and sizes:

  • “You will receive your item in 4-7 business days”
  • “Estimated Delivery: 7/28-8/2”
  • “Your item will …

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Report Preview: Getting to Know the Connected Consumer

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Here’s a startling stat: “78% of consumers feel that the customer service departments of today’s companies are generally not meeting their needs and expectations.”

The information comes from social CRM software maker Digital Roots and service professional recruitment firm Execs In the Know, which published this week a preview of the “Getting to Know the Connected Consumer” report. The report surveyed nearly 20,000 individuals to gain insights into the mind of today’s consumer.

Channels of customer care for the report are grouped into the following buckets: Traditional (phone, email, in-person), Interactive (online/video chat, self-help), Mobile (apps, text/SMS, mobile chat), and Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, forums).

  • Experiences: The least utilized channel of care within the past 12 months was mobile, with 10.6% of respondents having used mobile customer care in the past 12 months.
  • Perceptions: Consumers were asked: “In your …

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Lowe’s To Open $20.5M Customer Support Center

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Lowe’s plans to invest $20.5 million and hire up to 1,000 employees to staff a new Indianapolis-based customer support center.

The new facility will support stores and internet sales, delivery services and repair services for Lowe’s customers across the U.S, according to a release. The facility is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2015 and will complement the company’s existing customer support centers located in Wilkesboro, North Carolina and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Looking at Lowes’ contact center performance for the first half of 2014, StellaService data shows the retailer certainly has strengths and weaknesses. For Phone support, the retailer is besting its competitors in several key metrics, such as  Product Knowledge, Policy Knowledge and Issue Resolution.

Email support, however, has room for improvement. Lowes’ response time for emails in the first half of 2014 trailed the Hardware/Home Improvement category average by about 10 hours. …

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Is Your Subpar Service Causing Customers to Cry?

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Results from a new consumer survey show that more than a third of U.S. adults have cancelled service or stopped using a brand due to frustrating customer experience.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of ClickSoftware, concluded that Americans waste more than 30 hours of time they could or would have spent working dealing with customer service issues annually.

Respondents were asked to select the two industries that are most frustrating, then reported the number of hours spent dealing with these industries over the course of one year.

U.S. Service Industry Consumer Frustration Index

Industry: Average # of hours spent dealing with most recent issue

  • Banking: 6
  • Repair/home Services: 5.3
  • Insurance: 4.7
  • Automotive: 3.7
  • Healthcare: 3.1
  • Communication service providers: 2.5
  • Public sector: 2.2
  • Retail: 1.8
  • Utilities: 1.5

Other highlights from the results:

  • 35% of respondents have cancelled service or stopped using a brand due to a frustrating customer experience
  • 51% of …

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Following Comcast’s Customer Service Fiasco, Are You Measuring Professionalism for CSRs?

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After five minutes of aggressive, unfriendly questioning and declining to cancel a customer’s cable service a CSR explained his motive.

“I’m trying to help our company be better. That’s my job,” he said on a call recording that went viral Tuesday.

“I can guarantee you, you’re doing an incredibly good job at helping your company be worse,” replied Ryan Block, the customer who recorded the call.

The exchange has been called torture, a nightmare and the “customer service call from Hell.” Time’s headline read “Recording of Man’s Attempt to Cancel Comcast Will Drive You Insane” and Gawker chimed in with its typical snark “Hellish Comcast Call Sets New Standard for Shitty Customer Service.”

Tom Karinshak, Comcast’s Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for the incident:

“The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service …

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StellaService Report: Top 10 Retailers with Fastest Order Life Cycles

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By Jake Novick, Senior Research Associate, StellaService

On Happy Customer, we’ve frequently documented the importance of speed in both the delivery and the return side of the online shopping experience. We’ve shown data on how some retailers are upgrading their standard shipping service and, on the other side, how Apple had started to use expedited shipping for its returns in recent months. However, until now, we haven’t analyzed the combination of the two. So, which retailers are investing in speed across delivery and returns?

Enter a new StellaService metric called Order Life Cycle.

We define Order Life Cycle, or OLC, as the sum of Total Days to Delivery and the Total Days to Refund Processed for a given order. The impetus for tracking this metric was to get a more holistic view of the fulfillment process from the shopper’s perspective. While many retailers are beginning to understand the value shoppers place on fast shipping with programs imitating Amazon …

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More than a Million Boxes Reused With ‘A Box Life’ Program

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A StellaService Analyst shopping Sorel.com recently noticed an option at checkout that lets shoppers opt in to have their shipment sent in a reused box.

The option caught our analyst by surprise, so we decided to dig in further.

Turns out this eco-friendly initiative began at Columbia Sportswear in 2009. Officially dubbed “A Box Life,” the program enables shoppers to select a used box, each one containing a unique QR Code that tracks everywhere the box is delivered. Shoppers can then share the story of their box on the website ABoxLife.com, where the path of each box is plotted on Google Maps, showing every destination, total miles the box has traveled and how many boxes have been saved in the process.

To date, 1,045,120 boxes have been reused, and the most traveled box on the site has been shipped across more than 11,000 miles.

Columbia created A Box Life with the hope that other companies would join in the effort. Participating brands and retailers include Sorel, Mountain …

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Forrester Report: Every Online Retailer Should Ship-from-Store

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StellaService data shows that Best Buy reduced standard shipping speeds by two days on average due to fulfilling online orders from physical stores. Photo: Mike Mozart / Creative Commons license. 

A recent report from Forrester, Why Every Online Retailer Should Ship-from-Store, looks at the broad opportunity ship-from-store presents for online retailers.

“Online retailers are feeling the pain of Prime. It’s hard to compete with free two-day shipping — few other retailers have the customer base or the deep pockets to develop competitive programs. Ship-from-store programs provide a unique opportunity to level the playing field and get merchandise in the hands of the customer quickly and cheaply.”

Key benefits for retailers that use physical stores to fulfill online orders include increased revenue, margin gains from supply chain optimization and improved customer experience. Therefore, the report’s authors suggest that all online retailers should fulfill from …

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Are You Innovating or Playing Customer Service Catch-Up?

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Jordy Leiser is Co-founder and CEO of StellaService.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about an awesome innovation from Amazon. I would stop if they would stop.

While the company’s new streaming media box, Amazon Fire TV, received a greater share of recent headlines, it was the Amazon Dash that grabbed my attention. The Dash is a wand-like wireless device that includes a microphone and a barcode scanner, enabling users to add items to an AmazonFresh shopping list by scanning a product’s bar code or speaking its name. Need apples? Say, “apples” into the microphone and apples will arrive the next day, touts the Dash launch video.

There are plenty of massive retailers that are still trying to figure out how to migrate their bread-and-butter brick-and-mortar business to an e-commerce model, which brings up a new set of challenges in fulfillment and customer service. Meanwhile, Amazon is installing a checkout lane in the kitchen.

I know much of this technology lives …

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StellaService Study: Mass Merchants Struggle With Shipping Breakable Items

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By Emily Kolodner, Senior Research Associate, StellaService

Everyone has experienced it at least once in their online shopping lives: click the ‘confirm purchase’ button on the item you’ve been pining for, then anxiously check the shipment status on a tracking page until it finally arrives. Except this time, you peel back the tissue only to discover the $50 bottle of liquid concealer you ordered has exploded all over the inside of the box. (Who remembers the Great Nail Polish Fiasco of 2013?)

It’s a nightmare shared by shopper, shipper and carrier alike. While all parties end up paying in the end, the cost is surely steepest for the retailer who not only pays the price to make it right, but also risks losing the business of the disgruntled shopper entirely. Proper protection of items is clearly a priority for most retailers, as only 2% of products ordered in the past 12 months by StellaService Analysts have arrived damaged.

Beauty and cosmetics e-tailers typically are at the …

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