“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]
Jordy Leiser is Co-founder and CEO of StellaService.
Let’s talk about some of the customer service headlines that have emerged in recent months.
Of course, coverage of retail during the holidays included the wig-dropping stampedes for door-buster sales that we’ve all come to expect. But almost all of the biggest stories–although varying in details and concerning a range of disparate companies–were about service.
First, Amazon hijacked Cyber Monday news coverage with an exclusive on CBS’s 60 Minutes about plans to deliver products via flying drones. Sure, maybe they trotted out some half-baked plans as a well-timed publicity stunt, but it worked. The next day America was talking about the prospect of clicking “Checkout” on Amazon and then hearing the whirr of a drone making a delivery 30 minutes later.
Yes, it was a story about an exciting innovation. But more, it was a story about incredible customer service–orders delivered in half an hour! And, …
“Community banks from across the United States and some of the country’s biggest retailers are at each other’s throats over whose job it is to protect consumers from the kind of cyber attacks suffered last month by Target and Neiman Marcus. The National Retail Federation delivered a shot on Tuesday, saying in a letter to U.S. lawmakers that its bank ‘partners’ had failed to adopt new technology and instead continued to issue ‘fraud-prone’ magnetic stripe credit and debit cards. On Wednesday, the Independent Community Bankers of America representing about 7,000 banks in small towns, big cities and suburbs, fired back, saying the NRF should focus on its response to theft of data ‘rather than hurling false allegations blaming the banking industry.’ ” [Source: Reuters]
“About a month after consumers learned of a massive security breach at thousands of Target stores, the company issued a written apology in major U.S. newspapers. ‘Our top priority is taking care of you and helping you feel confident about shopping at Target, and it is our responsibility to protect your information when you shop with us,’ Target President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote. ‘We didn’t live up to that responsibility, and I am truly sorry.’ Target announced in December that payment data for roughly 40 million customers who used credit and debit cards in their stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 was at risk.” [Source: NBC News]
You’ve likely heard by now — it’s been a rough holiday season for Target.
The Minneapolis-based retailer revealed today that personal information for up to 70 million individuals was stolen, including names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. This is in addition to the December 19 announcement of a massive security breach affecting the credit and debit card information for 40 million customers who shopped in-store between November 27 and December 15. Specifically the customer name, debit or credit card number, expiration dates, CVV and encrypted PIN numbers were stolen in nearly 1,800 stores.
Company spokeswoman Molly Snyder told Bloomberg that it’s likely the two groups of affected individuals overlap, but to what extent is not clear at this point. Total number of consumers affected could reach 110 million.
The company also announced today that it would offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protection, however details of that program …
“Think you’ve had a frustrating phone experience with a customer service rep? It was likely a breeze compared to the hell endured by Katie Johnson. The Arizona woman was kept on hold by Target for a mind-numbing six hours, according to local news site AZ Family. Katie Johnson had ordered an iPod Nano from Target.com for her boyfriend this Christmas, but after the gift never arrived Johnson reached out to UPS. It appeared that the package was stolen from her porch, and UPS said Target would need to file an insurance claim with UPS to replace the product for Johnson.” [Source: The Huffington Post]
“In the correspondence, the SEC asks the companies—which frequently tout their online prowess—to provide hard details about the amount of goods they sell online. [...] The agency is concerned that retailers are hyping their Web prowess by claiming high percentage growth rates while failing to disclose how much that growth affects total sales. What is clear from many of the answers is that the absolute figures are still relatively small. Amazon.com Inc. sells more online than its next 12 biggest competitors combined, including Staples Inc. and Wal-Mart, according to the trade publication Internet Retailer. Despite its greater online scale, Amazon continues to grow quickly and command a hefty share of new Internet sales. Its 30% increase in North American sales in the second quarter outstripped the overall e-commerce market and some competitors as well.” [Source: The Wall Street Journal]
“Those beer-crate nightstands and makeshift curtains are starting to disappear from U.S. colleges as retailers push more-upscale dorm furnishings for the back-to-school season. Dozens of retailers, from Target Corp and Williams-Sonoma Inc’s Pottery Barn to boutique website Dormify.com, are marketing aggressively to the college crowd this year. Using oversized catalogs, social media and temporary stores set up near colleges, they are offering everything for the picture-perfect dorm room, including monogrammed towels, state-of-the art storage containers and color-coordinated curtains and pillows.” [Source: Reuters]
“Target is trying to follow Walmart’s lead into the digital shopping space, and both retailers are in a relentless pursuit of e-commerce giant Amazon. David Newman, Target’s director of the new tech center, said the company is working on an image-recognition feature that would allow customers to call up information about a product, such as nutritional information for a cereal brand, just by capturing the image on their phone.” [Source: San Jose Mercury News]
Last minute preparations are being made for what is effectively retail’s Super Bowl – a stretch where both brick-and-mortar and online stores will be flooded with holiday shoppers looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
Many retailers have added seasonal employees to handle increased service calls, hoping to improve their customer service levels from the previous year or at least stay consistent with normal levels.
STELLAService analysts conducted detailed tests of the 25 largest retailers in the country to measure service performance during the 2011 holiday season, learning which retailer offered fastest shipping, the quickest refunds, and the speediest phone support, with proprietary data like no other resource.
Highlights of last year’s study include:
- On the busiest shopping weekend – Black Friday through Cyber Monday – shoppers found the following five sites offered the shortest phone hold times (MM:SS): Nordstrom.com (00:18), Overstock.com (00:44), LLBean.com …