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Top 100 Etailers Get Email, Phone Response Report Cards

By Erika Morphy
Jun 14, 2011 5:00 AM PT

If you like speaking with live customer service reps about service issues without having to first endure a long and frustrating wait on the phone, then shop at Sierra Trading Post.

Top 100 Etailers Get Email, Phone Response Report Cards

That is one conclusion that can be drawn from a study of online retailers released by StellaService, which found that the retailer made customers wait on hold for just six seconds, on average, before a live rep came on the line. That is the shortest average time of the 100 Internet retailers studied in the survey.

If you are part of the growing minority of consumers who prefer to interact with customer service by email, then you'll like Office Depot, which came in with the fastest email response time at 0:48:00 minutes.

Want both prompt email service and short phone hold times? You're in luck, but just barely. One company ranked among the top 10 in both categories. If you shop at the Disney Store, you can expect an average 01:47:40 wait for email support and just 12 seconds on hold.

No Overlap

It is a little surprising that there isn't much overlap between the two categories, StellaService CEO and cofounder Jordy Leiser told CRM Buyer.

"You would think that if a company put its resources behind speedy call support, it would have similar priorities for email support and vice versa," he said. "However, there seem to be fairly large disparities in the ways that companies think about those operations."

Some companies believe that their customers prefer to call them and have little use for outreach via email. Others think the reverse is true, Leiser said.

The reality is that most consumers like to deal with a service issue by phone, he continued. "Study after study shows that people still prefer the phone. Companies that don't get that are going to see their customers go elsewhere, especially when shopping for big-ticket items."

Shortest Hold Time

Following, the four companies with the shortest hold times, according to the survey, are (11 seconds), the Disney Store (12 seconds), Urban Outfitters (17 seconds), and Grainger (21 seconds).

The worst offenders in terms of making customers wait on hold: Barnes & Noble (8 minutes 3 seconds), (7 minutes 20 seconds), Macy's (7 minutes 12 seconds), Zones (6 minute 56 seconds) and Green Mountain Coffee (4 minutes 50 seconds)

Thirty-one of the retailers had an average hold time of less than one minute. The average time to reach a live agent was 1 minute and 41 seconds.

Speedy Email

The fastest email response times, following Office Depot, were Musicians Friend (58 minutes, 40 seconds), (01:23:48), the Disney Store (01:47:40) and Abercrombie & Fitch (01:50:45).

The retailers that took the longest to respond: Crate and Barrel at 88:30:24, Fingerhut at 79:29:30, Dell at 65:10:45, The Swiss Colony at 52:29:15 and Market America at 39:35:36.

The average email response time for all merchants surveyed was approximately 17 hours.

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