Zendesk Releases Google+ Hangouts App for Better Collaboration Amongst Agents


Screenshot courtesy Zendesk

Customer service platform Zendesk recently released a new application for customers who are looking to improve agent-to-agent collaboration. The new app, which is among 140 available in the platform’s marketplace, could prove to be useful particularly for larger and/or remote teams. Users need to have a Google Apps account, and have their Zendesk admin install the app. After that, a Hangout can be started with just a few clicks.

We spoke with Zendesk Platform Product Manager Maxime Prades to get the scoop on the new Google+ Hangouts app.

Give us a bit of background on the new Zendesk Google+ Hangouts app. How did the idea come about? How long have you been developing the app?

MP: We were approached by Google, whom we work with on a lot of different projects and APIs, to be part of the Hangout API beta. As big users of Google+ Hangouts ourselves we jumped on the opportunity to build something useful for our customers. We’ve been working on this …

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Fab.com Spinoff Hem Aims to Improve Online Furniture Buying


Image courtesy Hem.com

A Google search for “Ikea furniture assembly” produces an extensive list of people offering such services. It’s a frustrating enough experience for consumers that people seemingly make a living taking on the challenge of building KNOPPARP sofas and BORGSJÖ bookcases.

Assembly is just one frustrating element of buying new furniture that is being tackled by Hem, a new furniture company from the founder of Fab.com. Part of Hem’s sales pitch is “No Tools.”

“Let’s face it. Not everyone is handy,” the company’s website says. “That’s why we’re creating innovative assembly solutions. Many of our products require no tools.”

Hem’s website debuted Wednesday, announced by Fab CEO Jason Goldberg in a tweet. Goldberg calls Hem a “full-stack design company” that will handle “everything from design to product development to manufacturing to technology & logistics.”

The company aims to cut out the middlemen and work …

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New Stella Benchmarks Includes Top 25, L.L.Bean Tops Rankings


Stella Benchmarks received a fresh look in its most recent release, but there’s a familiar retailer topping the rankings.

L.L.Bean had the overall best customer service performance in May, the second time the retailer has topped the list in the past three months. The retailer’s performance was strong in nearly every area — 4th in Phone, 6th in Email, 8th in Chat and 4th in Returns/Refunds.

Companies that have ranked in the Overall Top 25 every month since January include: Fab, J.Crew, L.L.Bean, Net-A-Porter, Ralph Lauren, Shopbop and Zappos.

Stella Benchmarks are designed to provide consumers with guidance for smarter shopping and retailers with an independent, reliable benchmark for measuring and improving customer service.

Since launching in November 2012, only companies with $100 million in revenue qualified for the rankings across four service areas: Phone, Email, Shipping and Returns/Refunds. Starting in June 2014, showing data from May 2014, all companies evaluated on …

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Sears, Dell, Microsoft CSRs Most Likely to Offer to Complete Transaction


By Jake Novick, Senior Research Associate, StellaService

One of the mantras we preach here at StellaService is that retailers should view their customer care centers as more than just a black hole for costs. Not only can they be the center of “wow” experiences for customers, a la Lululemon, but also they are the front line contact for many shoppers who are just a few clicks away from making purchases online. Some retailers are taking advantage of this face time with customers by encouraging their agents to offer to complete a transaction for the shopper. Whether it be providing them with a direct phone number to call and complete the sale, or offering a free trial for a “VIP” program.

We began collecting this metric, called “Offered to Complete Transaction” (“OCT”), across all three customer support channels (Phone, Email and Live Chat) in February 2014. We define this as any suggestion made by a CSR that would lead to the transaction of money.

For the past four …

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Love Your Customer and They’ll Love You Back


This guest post is by J.R. Yates, CEO and Founder of Titanium-Jewelry.com, a StellaService Excellent-rated online jewelry retailer.

We love our customers. We love helping them find the perfect wedding ring. And in some cases our customers love us back and want to show it. That makes everything we do worthwhile.

How do we get our customers to love us back? It requires us to jump through hoops on occasion. Customers ask us to do crazy things sometimes. Like the guy who decided to get married on Friday and needed his ring by Thursday evening, and ordered his wedding band Wednesday afternoon – after UPS picks up. But we made sure to get it there.

Sometimes it’s not quite as involved as getting a wedding ring to a customer in 24 hours. Sometimes the customer needs us to extend her 90-day return privilege. Done. The fellow who needs a Hallmark card put in the package with a special hand written message. Check. The folks who ask us to snap a quick picture of the ring on our finger and …

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Cost-Efficient Tips For Using the Web as a Service Tool


Jordy Leiser is CEO and Co-founder of StellaService.

It’s no secret that delivering the type of personalized, world-class customer service that can lead to invaluable, long-term customer loyalty requires a strong commitment. Luckily, this commitment may be less of a financial burden than you may think.

In the era in which a shopper can do a quick Google search to find a product’s price from a dozen different retailers, developing a reputation for delivering excellent service can be the deciding factor in converting prospective customers. E-retailers can make customer service a point of distinction without necessarily having large budgets and complicated technology. In some cases, all it takes is a bit of creativity and a commitment to quality service.

Many retailers, some with a lot of loyal customers, have devised ways to be cost-efficient in their service operations while still delighting the customer. Here are a few cost-effective tips to get started, all inspired by …

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For Contact Center Health, Get Your Baseline Performance Checked


You walk into the doctor’s office and ask, “Doc, am I healthy?”

Before you get an answer, the doctor is going to conduct a few basic measurements that will guide his assertion of your overall health, for instance weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level.

The overall health of your contact center must go through the same process. And, StellaService calls this type of check-up “Baseline Performance.”

Baseline Performance is essentially a rollup of several vital metrics that can provide a quick understanding of whether or not a more thorough examination is necessary.

Below is an overview of the metrics considered for Baseline Performance for Phone, Email and Chat. All criteria must be met in order to achieve Baseline Performance.


  • Issue Resolution – Whether or not the customer’s issue was resolved.
  • Professionalism – The CSR was respectful and courteous.
  • Product/Policy Knowledge - Product/Policy Knowledge is adequate or better.


  • Issue …

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Amazon Clocks Average Response Time of Under 10 Seconds for Mayday Button


On Friday, Amazon announced stats related to delivering customer service through the Mayday Button on the Kindle Fire HDX. Most notably, the average response time is just 9.75 seconds.

Also of note, 75% of customer service inquiries for the Fire HDX now come via the Mayday button, which was introduced eight months ago. The button provides customers with 24/7 video support 365 days a year. From the release:

“To use, you simply tap the Mayday button in Quick Settings, and an Amazon expert will appear on your Fire HDX and can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever you’d prefer.”

Amazon has also released some interesting anecdotes from the Mayday button:

  • After being stuck on a specific Angry Birds level for a week, a Tech Advisor helped a customer beat the level.
  • A Tech Advisor sang happy birthday to someone as they were receiving a Fire HDX from their boyfriend.

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Check the Health of Your Email Support with These 3 Metrics


There’s always an opportunity to get better. But, it starts with making sure you’re starting on the right path.

Let’s talk about getting on the right path to better email support. Below you will find three metrics your team should be considering to ensure timely, helpful email support is being delivered to customers.

Metric: Addressed Second Question Directly
StellaService definition: The CSR addressed the customer’s second question directly.
Why it’s important: StellaService includes multiple questions in the same email to retailers that are distinct and merit separate responses. Interactions are structured as such to measure the thoroughness of CSRs handling support questions.

This metric is a great go-to diagnostic for the health of your email support. “It’s almost like checking your blood pressure,” says Chris Vodola, a StellaService Client Development Manager who previously managed contact centers for major beauty brands and online retailers. If a significant …

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Shipping Race: Retailers Expedite Standard Orders to Speed Delivery Times


Retailers are continuing to invest in a fast and high-quality shipping experience for online shoppers who now have higher expectations than ever.

One way to surprise an online shopper is to get the order to them faster than expected, and we’re seeing some retailers use expedited shipping methods on a regular basis. These retailers are carefully crafting a strategy focused on delivering a consistent experience for shoppers, regardless of which region the package is being shipped to.

The StellaService research team recently examined nearly 3,000 orders placed in January through April of this year to look at which carriers and methods are being used most frequently by the largest retailers in the U.S., broken out by region of delivery.

StellaService Analysts obtain the package origin from tracking information provided by the retailer, and it’s classified as either Atlantic Coast, Central or Pacific Coast. (See Appendix A at the end of this post for the states included in each …

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