Retailers Offer One-on-One Service Through Google Helpouts

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Google Helpouts, launched late last year, provides a platform for “real-time commerce” by connecting experts with consumers over live video chat. And some retailers have been quick to jump on the platform to connect one-on-one with customers and prospects.

Customers pay per minute or per Helpout session through Google Wallet, but there are also many free sessions available.

Helpouts are currently broken into the following categories:

  • Art & Music
  • Computers & Electronics
  • Cooking
  • Education
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Fitness & Nutrition
  • Health
  • Home & Garden

ASOS was the first retailer I came across on the Helpouts platform, listed under Fashion & Beauty. The UK-based retailer offers three free Hangouts for consumers to choose from — a general fashion advice Helpout, a styling Helpout targeted to male shoppers, and a Helpout that gives advice on stocking up on the “best jersey separates for a fresh new season.” ASOS describes its Google …

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Here’s How to Communicate a Shipping Delay to Customers

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Much of the U.S. is in the midst of a “polar vortex,” which is causing significant delays in air travel. The extreme temperatures are resulting in delayed ecommerce shipments due to freezing aircraft and treacherous road conditions.

Some retailers, including Newegg.com and Topshop.com, are attempting to properly set customer expectations  by proactively notifying site visitors, either on customer support pages or product detail pages.

But despite the best efforts of retailers, if mother nature throws a wrench in shipping plans there is little that can be done to control the last mile of the online shopping experience.

Chris Vodola, client development manager at StellaService, has the following tips for customer service teams that need to communicate a delay in shipping to customers.

Emails are easier; phone calls are higher touch. With ecommerce purchases, customers expect most communications from the retailer to be done in the same medium. Depending on the severity of …

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Customer Service Is the New Differentiator In Consumer Electronics

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Jordy Leiser is co-founder and CEO of StellaService.

I probably look at my iPhone 50 times a day to check my email. Rarely do I actually use it to make a phone call.

But, interestingly, if I have a question for Apple, email is not an option. The company making the most sought-after electronics in the industry does not offer electronic mail as a customer service channel.

And, if you look across the electronics industry, there’s no template for customer service.

Sure, there are fantastic stories of Steve Jobs replying to service questions after a customer tracked down his email address, but you won’t find a customer service email contact on Apple.com.

The company has simply decided, “When our customers want to contact us via email, we choose to fail.”

That’s a bold decision. But not necessarily wrong.

Apple customer service via phone is consistently among the best in the computer and electronics industry. The company has decided that it’s better to be amazing at phone …

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Lessons from RueLaLa.com: Be Proactive With Your Shoppers

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When purchasing holiday gifts online, not all retailers are properly setting expectations with shoppers on the process for returning gifts and whether those gifts can be exchanged for credit, refund, or gift cards.

That’s exactly why we were excited to hear that a StellaService Analyst received the following email from RueLaLa.com, a StellaService Excellent-rated site, this week after placing an order on the site.

The team at RueLaLa proactively communicated the process for returning a gift purchased on the site in three easy steps. But why is this important?

First, it provides a great experience for the customer, who no longer has to spend time digging through the site for information on gift returns. Second, the retailer’s customer service department is likely receiving less inbound inquiries from customers related to gifting items purchased on RueLaLa because of the proactive outreach. The email also provides contact information in the bottom of the email so it’s …

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Love the Love: 3 Keys to JackThreads’ Social Customer Service

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Editor’s note: This guest post is written by David Tull, Customer Engagement Manager for JackThreads, a members-only online shopping club that curates top-tier skate, surf and contemporary men’s apparel at up to 80% off. 

Social media, and Twitter in particular, have left a lasting and well-documented impact on the way we communicate. Most traditional brand style rules fall by the wayside when you can only use 140 characters. When this limitation is shared between brands and customers, however, there’s an opportunity to speak to our customers in their own language without sacrificing our brand voice and character. As the line between customer service and marketing continues to blur on social media, we’re constantly building and re-building our style and vocabulary to meet our customers in the present moment.At JackThreads, our merchandising team works to unearth the freshest looks and the deepest discounts available. Each day at noon ET, 3 to 4 new sales launch, …

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Book of the Month: Amaze Every Customer Every Time By Shep Hyken

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Shep Hyken wrote the book on customer service. Actually he’s written five of them, and co-authored another five on service and leadership, with his most recent slated for publication in September of this year. In his latest book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, Hyken provides readers with “52 tools for delivering the most amazing customer service on the planet.”

Here’s what we love about Hyken’s new book: he’s structured it in a way that encourages readers to take action on every tool to better their organizations and up customer expectations. From the epilogue:

Pick out the strategies that leapt out at you, right away, and made you think, “Hey, I–or we–could to that.” Make a commitment to start implementing them right now…so that within the next 30 days you will have put those initial Amazement Tools into practice and raised standards of your customers so high that you create a problem for your competition.

We spoke with Hyken …

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Flash Sale Sites Revamp Return Policies to Attract Wider Audience

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When flash sale sites initially launched in the late 2000s, many used limited inventory, narrow purchase windows, and final sales to create a sense of urgency among customers. The most loyal shoppers might sit glued to their computer or iPhone when sales start to ensure the best selection of designer goods. But as these sites have evolved and sought to attract sales from less die-hard consumers, many now allow returns on items not marked final sale.

In fact, STELLAService evaluations conducted for the six months between September 12 and February 13 found that several major flash sale sites issued a refund or credit within 28 days. Returns to Fab.com and Ideeli.com were processed within 28 days 100% of the time, and Ideeli.com issued a refund 100% of the time, while Fab.com issued a refund 35% of the time and credit the remaining 65% of the time. OneKingsLane.com and RueLaLa.com also issued refunds 100% of the time and a majority of the time those refunds were issued within …

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Thousands Raised to Support Dunkin’ Donuts Employees Shown in Viral Rant Video

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You may have seen the racist tirade making the rounds this week from a Dunkin’ Donuts customer, Taylor Chapman, who filmed herself verbally attacking several employees after she demanded the entire menu — twice — because the company failed to give her a receipt for her order the previous night. (The 8-minute long video is available here, but be warned: it features highly offensive NSFW content including graphic language.)

At first watch, it’s nothing short of shocking to see a human treating other humans in this despicable manner. The incident has garnered major media coverage, helping to spread the story far and wide.

But there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud. The company issued a statement to Gawker saying that the pair will be recognized for their exceptional service:

We commend the franchisee’s crew member for handling this difficult situation with grace and patience. We believe this is a powerful example of great customer service and …

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Retailer’s Perspective: Rising to the Challenge of Showrooming

Retailer can address issues with showrooming through great customer service

Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Richard Sexton, founder and president of furniture retailer Carolina Rustica. He has previously written about the challenges of online furniture sales for Happy Customer.

With more than half of smartphone users reporting that their devices are always within arm’s reach, it should be no surprise that smartphone use has invaded every aspect of our lives from communications to entertainment to shopping.

As a retailer, we are naturally concerned and intrigued about how smartphone use is translating into the practice of “showrooming” — when customers bring their devices into your retail store and use either search engines or price comparison apps to determine if they are getting the best price. Armed with a smartphone in hand, the customer can quickly scan bar codes or type in SKU numbers to retrieve pricing data and make their purchasing decision. The worst-case scenario is that the customer buys from a competitor …

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Customer Service Helps SCOTTEVEST Stay Ahead of the Game

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SCOTTEVEST’s Quick Draw pocket, a feature co-invented with customer and photojournalist Christian Payne.

Editor’s Note: This guest post is written by Scott Jordan, founder and CEO of SCOTTEVEST.

SCOTTEVEST, Inc. was one of the first clothing companies born online. We have always been a first mover and because of that, we continue to make sure we are staying ahead of the e-commerce game. Central to this mission is our customers and soliciting their feedback throughout all areas of the business, from R&D to product testing to marketing to web design.

At SCOTTEVEST, customer service is the core of what we do and how we operate. I have always managed our company with extreme transparency, as you can see through my personal social media pages as well as my engagement on our company profiles. I have found that over the years, my one-on-one engagement with our customers has created trust and brand loyalty that I honestly have not seen elsewhere.

While I’ve …

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