Stella Benchmarks: Net-A-Porter.com Pairs High Fashion With High-Quality Service

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Shoppers visit Net-A-Porter.com for high-quality fashion, and they’re getting the customer service to match.

Self-described as “world’s premier online luxury fashion destination,” Net-A-Porter.com topped all competitors across all retail verticals for customer service in February, according to Stella Benchmarks.

The retailer was particularly strong in fulfillment, besting all other retailers in both Shipping and Returns.

Net-A-Porter.com provided a pre-paid, adhesive return label in all orders handled by StellaService Analysts. In addition, Net-A-Porter.com issued refunds in less than a week on average.

“Net-A-Porter knows its customer base and that’s definitely apparent in its service efforts,” said Kevon Hills, Vice President of Research at StellaService. “Orders arrive fast and they’re beautifully packaged, which is what a luxury shopper demands. They also put a lot of thought into reducing the friction involved in the returns …

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How to Develop Customer-Pleasing Staff Members

“Creating great customer experiences — what leaders like Disney, Zappos and Nordstrom do on a consistent basis — is one of the few areas left for companies to differentiate and generate good margins. Making it happen, however, is easier said than done; fundamentally, it is a people issue.  How do you get employees to go beyond the call of duty to regularly exceed customer expectations? By empowering them to develop emotional connections with each customer. A great client experience can happen wherever an organization interacts with a customer. And, it is not limited to face-to-face interactions or front-line staff.  Zappos, an online retailer, provides great experiences through call centres and online dealings. A great customer experience is hard to pin down because the definition of ‘great’ and ‘experience’ are tough to define.” [Source: Financial Post]

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Zappos Couture Names André Leon Talley as Artistic Director

“While Zappos has become a go-to site for Middle America footwear shoppers, it’s still seeking to elevate its image among more highbrow consumers. To that end, the Amazon-owned site has named André Leon Talley as artistic director of its high-end Zappos Couture business. The former Vogue eminence will oversee editorial content on the Zappos Couture site, including fashion shoots, videos and trend picks, all set to debut on Jan. 22. ’The digital universe is a new, exciting opportunity for me to reach a broad audience in terms of the global luxury market,’ said Talley, adding that his goal is to ‘create something unique, in terms of a Web magazine within the Zappos Couture Web site, that conveys the immediacy and excitement of luxury retail products, season by season.’” [Source: WWD]

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Fit Club: How Service Solves The Sizing Problem

MyHabit.com Purse Size Silhouette

Since the birth of ecommerce in the mid-1990s, retailers have wrestled with the issue of sizing. If consumers can’t try on a sweater or suit before they buy it, how do they know it will fit? Lack of understanding about size and fit can discourage sales on the consumer side, and when a consumer chooses the wrong size, they’re apt to return it. According to Kirthi Kalyanam, director of the Internet Retailing and Retail Studies Program at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, sizing is part of a larger issue of how consumers determine that a product is right for them without seeing it, holding it, or trying it on. It’s not a major concern when buying basics like printer paper or light bulbs, but the more a product’s appeal centers on design aesthetics and uniqueness (like with clothing or jewelry), the more it important that tactile contact becomes. “Some consumers have a high need for touch,” he said. Also compounding this problem is the fact that there’s …

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These Retailers Offered The Best Black Friday, Cyber Monday Customer Service Last Year

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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

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When Should You Expect That Last Minute Holiday Gift to Arrive?

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When it comes to the holidays, surprises should be left to the gifts, not the delivery speed of products you order online. That’s why we tested the top 25 Internet Retailers for standard delivery speed. These are the same 25 retailers that we studied in the 2011 Cyber Monday Customer Service Study.

We ordered several products from each of the top retailers via standard shipping to various parts of the country over the last few weeks to test how long it took for the items to arrive.

Who was the fastest, and who was the slowest?

Some key highlights from the study include:

  • 8 retailers had an average standard shipping time of three days or less: Zappos.com (2 days), Newegg.com (2.3 days), HPshopping.com (2.5 days), JCPenney.com (2.7 days), Amazon.com, (2.7 days), Gap.com (2.8 days), Dell.com (2.8 days), and SonyStyle.com (2.8 days).
  • 3 retailers had an average standard shipping time of over 5 days:  ToysRUs.com (5.5 days),  HSN.com (5.5 days), and Kohls.com (5 days).

Does …

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Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 2 – Email Support)

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Note: this is the second in a three part series looking at the customer service performance of the top 25 online retailers during the 2011 Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend. View Part 1 (Phone Support) and Part 3 (Live Chat Support) for a complete view on how the largest online retailers cared for customers during the big shopping holiday.

According to Forrester, 55% of online shoppers use email when attempting to solve a customer service problem.  Most consumers expect relatively quick responses to email inquiries. In fact, if you’re shopping online and have a question, what’s the point of sending an email if the company doesn’t get back to you for days? The product, special deal or issue in question may no longer be relevant by the time you get a reply.

To give shoppers a better idea of which stores plan to keep you in the loop and which stores are likely to dismiss your message into the email abyss as you do your online holiday shopping, STELLAService …

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Why the USPS Potential Post Office Shutdown May Benefit Online Shoppers

Eek! The dreaded post office line, which will only get longer if neighboring post offices close.

One of the conveniences of online shopping is not having to leave your house to retrieve the product. The same should go for returns. Therefore, it should not be surprising that an easy returns process is something online shoppers seek out. This is especially true when shoppers buy clothes and books, the top two products purchased online that are returned or exchanged.

However, last week, the United States Postal Service announced it was considering closing 3,653 municipal post offices. The post offices in consideration are located mostly in rural areas and their closure would affect hundreds of thousands of people that depend on their services.

Since an estimated 62% of online shoppers prefer to return products purchased online via the mail instead of to the brick-and-mortar store (when a brick-and-mortar store exists) the potential shut-down of thousands of post offices means it will be a whole lot more difficult to return a product for those people whose local post offices close. …

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Competition and Customer Service

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Earlier this month, The Atlantic put together a list of The 19 Most Hated Companies in America based on the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI).

As an introduction to the list, David VanAmburg from the ASCI points out that all of the companies included operate in industries that lack a high degree of competition — i.e.  commercial banking, utilities, and cable companies.  Not coincidentally, this means that customers of these companies who’d like to switch to a competitor have a very laborious task in front of them — it’s difficult and expensive to do so, and you’re not transitioning to a company that’s assuredly better.  This puts the customer in a serious bind.

The online retail  marketplace offers a positive contrast to the above predicament.  The existence of many retailers offering similar products at nearly identical prices effectively shows how increased competition begets increased (read: better) customer …

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Royal Service Doesn’t Need to come at a Royal Price Tag

The Royal Treatment

It’s wedding season! In particular there’s a very important wedding that just took place, and of course I’m talking about William and Kate. Naturally, my morning routine of watching Good Morning America had been infiltrated with coverage of the “Epic Event”.

As part of its coverage, ABC found anyone they could who was attending the wedding and interviewed him/her about useless information. For some reason, I actually paid attention to the interviews last week. Glad I did… One young guy they interviewed was not only the very close Step-2nd Cousin of Prince William, but also happened to be one of the co-founders of Quintessentially, “the world’s leading private members’ club with a global concierge that provides a unique brand of service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” Never hearing of this before, I was intrigued to see what something like that costs. After being made fun of by my “in-the-know” girlfriend for never …

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