Stella Benchmarks: J.Crew Leads the Rankings With Best Phone Support


J.Crew’s website has a “What we’re known for” section that specifically calls out design, styling and philanthropy. It may be time to add customer service to the list.

J.Crew topped Stella Benchmarks in June, providing the overall best customer service of the 130 companies included. The retailer last topped the rankings in January, but is one of only six companies to remain within the top 25 since the beginning of the year.

Phone support was a bright spot for J.Crew, as the retailer also topped that specific service area. Additionally, the retailer ranked 10th in email support and 12th in Returns.

Stella Benchmarks includes 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 not included in the previous month’s rankings earned a spot in the Top 25 Overall in June – Apple, Gap, Kate Spade, Room and …

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GameStop Shaves Minutes Off Average Hold Time, Beating Competitors


Kevon Hills is Vice President of Research at StellaService.

Since EB Games and FuncoLand shut their doors, GameStop has enjoyed being the only player in the video game space. Big box retailers have always been in the business of selling new video games, as well as manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft. But recently companies like Walmart and Best Buy are allowing customers to buy, sell and trade used games, further infringing on GameStop’s territory as the single source for all things video games.

GameStop is great at engaging customers in-store as its associates are typically experts in the latest games and devices. When GameStop launched its ecommerce site along with a customer service team, gamers must have been excited to have continuous access to their knowledgeable associates away from the store. However, GameStop’s speed of answer on the phone forced gamers to make a decision on which retailer to go to for answers.

From the start of the second quarter of 2013 through the …

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These Qualities Make Great Customer Service Representatives


In a matter of weeks, many customer service departments will start staffing for what is expected to be the busiest holiday season ever for online retailers.

AOL Jobs recently asked StellaService Client Development Manager Chris Vodola what it takes to be a customer service rep in the digital era.

Vodola has more than 15 years of customer care operational experience and has led teams within several consumer goods organizations including The Estée Lauder Companies, Nestlé Waters and Colgate-Palmolive. He joined the StellaService team from, where he served as Director of Customer Service and Operations.

See Vodola’s tips for prospective CSRs below.

What skills do you need?

A career in customer service is not for everyone. It’s about listening, empathizing, seeking to understand problems and having the ability to find solutions. More important than that is genuinely enjoying that process. The only basic requirements for a new entry-level hire are being likable …

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3 Retailers That Provide Delivery Estimates Shoppers Can Trust


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


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 customer experience advocates 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 opinion, which …

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Lowe’s To Open $20.5M Customer Support Center


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?


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?


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


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 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, 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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