Stella Benchmarks: L.L.Bean Tops Rankings for the Fourth Time in 2014


L.L.Bean provided the best overall customer service in August, marking the retailers fourth time topping Stella Benchmarks in 2014.

One of the keys to great customer service is matching expectations across all channels. L.L.Bean makes this a priority. The retailer repeated its top performance from the previous month by ranking among the Top 25 in Email, Chat, Shipping and Returns.

Stella Benchmarks includes 139 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 that did not rank in the Top 25 overall last month earned a spot in August: Gap, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Motosport, Microsoft, Brooks Brothers and Wayfair.

Companies that have ranked in the Top 25 Overall every month in 2014:

  • J.Crew
  • L.L.Bean
  • Zappos
  • Shopbop
  • Net-A-Porter

One of the standouts in the most recent Benchmarks was Target’s …

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StellaService Data Shows Spike in Apple Hold Times Post iPhone 6 Launch


The release of Apple’s iPhone 6 resulted in customers waiting in lines stretching multiple city blocks. So, what was the wait when calling Apple’s customer service department during the big release?

StellaService Analysts place calls to Apple’s customer service department every day and found that the retailer handled inbound calls on the release date quite well, but struggled the day after.

On Friday, Sept. 19, the Apple customer service team managed to answer calls in 1 minute and 9 seconds, outperforming its average speed of 1 minute and 45 seconds for all of 2014. But, StellaService Analysts experienced a significant wait on Saturday — more than 20 minutes. As part of StellaService’s data collection methodology, calls are abandoned after the wait time exceeds 20 minutes.

Apple only offers Phone and Chat support – no customer service questions are handled over Email or social media.

Apple said Monday that it sold 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models combined after …

Read More CEO Jill Layfield On Using Outdoor Experts as CSRs


The “Shop with a Gearhead” feature on allows customers to connect one-on-one with an expert that shares the same interests.

A well-designed, innovative ecommerce site paired with top-notch, human-powered customer service seems to be a winning combination for, an online retailer of outdoor sporting goods and apparel based in Park City, Utah.’s customer service performance is rated Elite by StellaService, the highest rating tier possible.

The site’s “Shop with a Gearhead” service caught our attention as it allows the site’s shoppers to email, call or live chat directly with a Gearhead (the site’s name for customer service representatives) who shares similar interests, ranging from Alpine Skiing and Backpacking to Snowshoeing, Trail Running and Yoga — and every outdoor activity in between.

We spoke with CEO Jill Layfield to get a better understanding of …

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Mass Merchant Fulfillment Performance Wavers Across Product Categories


Do shoppers have a better delivery experience ordering from ‘category-specific’ retailers than mass merchants? Think: L.L.Bean vs. Amazon for Apparel, HP vs. Costco for Electronics or Crate & Barrel vs. Sears for Home Furnishings.

We evaluated the fulfillment performance data of six mass merchants — Amazon, Costco, Kohl’s, Sears, Target, and Walmart — across three specific product categories: Apparel / Accessories, Electronics and Home Furnishings and compared performance to that of retailers specializing in that category.

The time frame for this study was May-July 2014, and the six mass merchants were:

  • Amazon
  • Costco
  • Kohl’s
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Walmart

The first three months of data tell an interesting story. Only two of the six outperformed the vertical across all three categories. That is, only two mass merchants — Costco and Sears — consistently delivered Electronics, Home Furnishings and Apparel faster on average than their category-specific …

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Sears Rolls Out Curbside Returns, Exchanges


Sears has added returns and exchanges to its popular In-Vehicle Pickup service. The new integrated retail service, powered by the Shop Your Way mobile app, lets members pick up, return or exchange their purchases for free – guaranteed in five minutes or less – without ever leaving their vehicle.

It’s a great option for consumers, as Sears has struggled with refund speed in 2014. StellaService data shows the retailer’s Total Days to Refund has doubled since March, now averaging close to 14 days through August. Sears trails competitors like Amazon, Target and Walmart in the metric.

But, Sears has certainly found success in leveraging its physical stores to ship products faster. And, earlier this year the retailer aimed to better connect in-store and online shopping with the launch of In-Vehicle Pickup.

Curbside returns and exchanges takes that concept of convenience to the next level.

This is how it works:

  • To start an in-vehicle return or exchange, a customer visits, …

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