More Retailers Offering Chat, But Usage Dips in December

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With online chat continuing to gain traction as a channel for customer support, we recently investigated how the chat landscape has changed. Not surprisingly, our data confirmed that the slate of retailers offering online chat is growing, with 13 retailers launching an online chat service in the last 18 months.

Chat offers retailers greater flexibility than traditional phone support. A retailer that offers phone support will, generally speaking, make that phone line available during normal business hours at the bare minimum. Chat, however, can be turned on and off on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. Sometimes it’s great for handling a period of high-volume contacts as agents can manage multiple chats at the same time. And, the one-to-one nature of the conversation provides greater Issue Resolution rates than Email.

The availability of chat, however, can be spotty. While StellaService analysts attempt to initiate chat support on a daily basis — with over 100 retailers …

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Amidst the Turnaround Talk, Here’s How JCP and Sears are Performing for Service

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JC Penney and Sears are two old school retailers that have been the subject of turnaround talk for most of the year. Curious how those turnaround efforts are shaking out for customer service and fulfillment, Happy Customer took a look at seven important metrics, comparing the retailers to the Department Store category average.

We looked at Total Time to Live Agent for Phone, Phone Issue Resolution, Email Response Time, Email Issue Resolution, Total Days to Delivery, Package Fit and Refund Speed. Data was pulled through the first nine months of 2014.

Sears bests the category average in four metrics – Total Time to Live Agent for Phone, Phone Issue Resolution, Email Issue Resolution and Package Fit.

JC Penney bests the category average in five metrics – Total Time to Live Agent for Phone, Email Response Time, Email Issue Resolution, Package Fit and Refunds.

A few notes:

Sears brought email response time down in the first four months of the year, averaging about four hours in …

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Google Express Brings Same Day Delivery To More Cities

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The fight for fast deliveries is on.

Google announced this week new details around Google Express, a same-day delivery service that will compete directly with Amazon Prime.

“Our idea was to make shopping your favorite local stores as easy and fast as shopping online, and to help you get what you need delivered the same day,” Google said in a release.

In addition to San Francisco and New York, the service is now available in three new cities: Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Across all cities, more than 7 million people can now access Google’s same-day delivery service, and in Northern California almost 12 million have access to next-day service.

Retailers and brands participating in the program include 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, Nine West, PetSmart, Vitamin Shoppe and Sports Authority, and regional merchants such as Paragon Sports in New York and Vicente Foods in Los Angeles.

Google Express members will enjoy:

  • Free same-day or overnight delivery on …

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Agents Need Attention to Detail When Answering Email Inquiries

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By Jake Novick, Senior Research Associate, StellaService

While many are still worrying about what costume to wear for Halloween, we know that every retailer is already looking ahead to the more important holiday, which, by the way, is only 78 days away. Analysts are predicting that this will be yet another record year for ecommerce sales so, as we demonstrated in our Q3 report, preparation is key.

Not just preparation, but also a commitment to paying attention to the details.

Nearly half of shoppers prefer to communicate via email, which is the most challenging channel for retailers based on several metrics. One way we measure attention to detail on the email channel is asking multiple questions and noting when an agent addresses all of our inquiries directly on the first response. This helps us understand whether a retailer’s agents are giving adequate attention to all questions within an email rather than sending it off quickly with a templated response.

In August, we turned up …

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Q&A: TurnTo CEO George Eberstadt Talks Assisted Shopping

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Happy Customer is always on the lookout for innovative approaches to customer service. We recently visited with TurnTo Networks CEO George Eberstadt about his company’s approach to “Assisted Shopping.” Retailers using TurnTo’s technology include Saks Fifth Avenue, Newegg and Sur La Table.What is “Assisted Shopping” and how is it different from live chat?

The difference is in the approach. Both share the vision of taking the customer experience that a shopper gets with a primo in-store associate and bringing it to the web: the shopper can ask questions in her own words and get the information she needs back quickly. Live chat takes a very literal approach: make the associate available to the web shopper by putting her on the other end of a chat line. “Assisted Shopping”, on the other hand, says: use ALL the resources that the web makes available to get shoppers the fastest possible answers from the best sources, whatever the question. That includes …

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