Stella Benchmarks: L.L.Bean’s Customer Service Hits Its Stride in March

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L.L.Bean is back on top of Benchmarks.

The outdoor apparel and equipment retailer that touts a 100% satisfaction guarantee last topped the list for its customer service performance in December. As for its standout efforts in March, LLBean.com showed strength in Email and Returns, besting all other retailers in those specific service areas.

LLBean.com replied to emails in about 30 minutes on average in March and scored an impressive 97% for Issue Resolution. As for Returns, the retailer issued refunds in about six days.

Each month, StellaService sheds light on the service performance of online retailers within their respective retail categories. The companies are measured across four service areas: Phone, Email, Shipping and Returns. Phone and Email are measured daily, while shipping and returns are measured across multiple orders. Stella Benchmarks are designed to provide consumers with guidance for smarter shopping and retailers with an independent, reliable benchmark for measuring …

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10 Phrases Customer Service Agents Should Never Use

“Effective training of the customer service staff (or anyone that interacts with customers) is critical for small-business success. This means ongoing coaching on what to say and, perhaps more importantly, what not to say when a customer calls. What are some examples of things reps shouldn’t say, but often do?

1.“No problem.” This is becoming the standard reply when a customer says thank you. Why? It’s silly, because why should helping a customer ever be “a problem”? This phrase is lazy and thoughtless. Instead use: “You’re welcome, thanks for coming/calling.” This shows direct appreciation for the customer patronizing the company.

2. “Please hold.” Putting a customer on hold optimizes the employee’s time. Why should the customer wait to be helped after the phone call has been answered?Instead use: “Thanks for calling, how can I help you today?” Have systems that tell holding customers how long the wait time will be or what number they …

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RetailMeNot Acquires Personalized Shopping Startup Pickie

“RetailMeNot announced today that it will be acquiring the team behind personalized shopping startup Pickie. Pickie provides a personalized email newsletter and iPad app to show users products that they would like to buy, based on your interests and mentions by friends on social networks. Designed as part magazine, part catalog, Pickie created a beautiful, shoppable experience for its users. The company is being acquired by Austin, Texas-based RetailMeNot, the online coupon giant which went public last year.” [Source: TechCrunch]

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USPS Details Plans for Partnering with Ecommerce Sites

“Nagisa Manabe, the chief marketing and sales officer with the USPS, offered a preview of an array of initiatives that the agency is working on to improve and expand its services through the use of technology, tapping into unused infrastructure and by forging new partnerships. [...] Manabe described the agency’s vision for “forward distribution centers,” a plan to offer retailers access to unused areas within USPS distribution facilities, making it easier to deliver merchandise in short windows, not unlike Amazon’s strategy of opening up new outbound hubs all around the country. Additionally, Manabe said that the Postal Service is working to make it easier to process returns of orders placed online. That starts with the shipping labels, which Manabe says should be reconfigured within the next few months to include return freight that could be activated when a customer needed to send back an order. [Source: Ecommerce Bytes]

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Target Expands Subscription Program

“Target has significantly expanded its subscription-based e-commerce service, first launched last fall as a response to Amazon’s popular “Subscribe and Save” program, by increasing the number of online items available for subscription purchase from just 200 to now 1,500. While the company’s original focus was on baby-care items, the now revamped service offers similar savings for other everyday purchases, including cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids, pet treats and training pads, grocery items, home and offices supplies, and more.” [Source: Techcrunch]

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Razorfish And Peet’s Coffee Agree To Profit-sharing Ecommerce Deal

“Ad execs have long relied on truckloads of coffee to stoke their creativity. Now one agency is counting on a java company, Bay Area-based Peet’s Coffee & Tea, to help reinvent the industry’s jittery business model. Last month, Peet’s hired Razorfish(PUB:FP), a global digital agency, to revamp its e-commerce business. But instead of working for a fee, Razorfish is earning a share of the profit from the rejiggered site—when and if it rises. “We’re all in,” says Pete Stein, Razorfish’s global chief executive officer. ‘None of our costs are paid for if profits don’t go up.’ ” [Source: Bloomberg Businessweek]

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We Asked Twitter How To Deliver Customer Service On Twitter

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More than eight years after the first 140 character message was posted on Twitter, many businesses are still trying to get a handle on how to use the service as a way to connect with customers.

Happy Customer recently talked with Mike De Jesus, head of the travel vertical at Twitter. His team is responsible for evangelizing Twitter’s platform and sharing paid and organic best practices to marketers in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries across the US.

SEE OUR EARLIER INTERVIEW WITH MIKE DE JESUS

As businesses continue to try to build a Twitter strategy, we asked De Jesus for some best practices Twitter provides to brands when they inquire about delivering great customer service via Twitter.

See answers and examples from De Jesus below.

Be human. People like communicating with brands, a unique opportunity for brands on Twitter. Show off your brand’s voice and personality – customers like to know that they’re connecting with a person, and not a corporation.

Be …

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Retail Sales Surge as Consumers Rev Up Growth

“A measure of U.S. consumer spending heated up in March, an early sign of accelerating economic growth this spring. Retail sales increased 1.1% in March to a seasonally adjusted $433.9 billion, the Commerce Department said Monday. The reading was the best monthly gain since September 2012 and rose above the level of sales recorded in November, before unusually cold weather chilled spending across much of the country.” [Source: WSJ]

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Ecommerce Beauty Brand Julep Raises $30 Million

“Julep, a cosmetics and beauty brand and e-commerce platform, has raised $30 million in Series C financing; Azure Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Altimeter Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Maveron all participated in the round. The new investment brings Julep’s total venture funding to $56 million. Celebrity backers include Will Smith and Jay-Z. Founded by former Starbucks executive Jane Park, Julep produces its own nail polishes, mascaras, moisturizers, lip glosses, face creams and other cosmetics that are sold on its site. The brand also has a monthly beauty and subscription service, through which it distributes its own products. What makes the startup unique is its social approach to product development.’ ” [Source: TechCrunch]

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Q&A with Mike De Jesus, Head of Travel at Twitter

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Twitter has become a communication channel that the customer service department simply can’t ignore.

For instance, 88% of customers are less likely to buy from a brand after seeing unanswered customer complaints on a company’s Twitter page, according to a study from Conversocial, a provider of social customer service software.

But, let’s not mistake the emerging service channel as a new burden. In fact, it’s an opportunity.

To get the scoop an some of the most interesting applications of customer service on Twitter, we went straight to the source. Happy Customer recently connected with Mike De Jesus, head of the travel vertical at Twitter. His team is responsible for evangelizing Twitter’s platform and sharing paid and organic best practices to marketers in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries across the US.

See our Q&A with De Jesus below.

What’s the current state of Twitter as a customer service tool?

Twitter has become a valuable …

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