They sell different products but they have one thing in common: excellent customer service. Based on the 20th annual Mystery Shopping Study conducted during Q4 2016, Astound Commerce identified these retailers, listed in alphabetical order, as customer service leaders:
B&H, Home Depot and Zappos were repeat winners from the 2015 survey. Moosejaw was acquired by Walmart earlier this month.
“Service is the quickest route to retention,” said Lauren Freedman, SVP Digital Strategy/Chief Merchant, Astound Commerce. “Shoppers expect efficiencies, accessible information, competency and timely information that allows for quick decision-making, avoiding any obstacles along the customer journey.”
The top seven brands were selected from 100 retailers benchmarked by Astound Commerce. Those sites without seven “must-have” features were eliminated until the final group was identified. These features, in descending order of importance, are:
1. Accessibility of 800# on site was a 2.5 or higher on a 3-point scale.
2. Overall customer service/help destination page score of 2.0 or higher on a 3-point scale.
3. Three or fewer days to receive a package.
4. Five or fewer clicks to check out, or if greater than five clicks to check out has one-click capabilities.
5. Ability to move an item from the cart to a saved list for future access, or save items in the cart for later.
6. Overall customer service experience on customer service call was a 2.0 or higher on a 3-popint scale.
7. Answer email question within 24 hours correctly and with a tailored response.
Winners Offer Strong, Unique Shopping Experiences
All the winning companies share a “customer-centric mindset, and are well-branded and offer a strong shopping experience,” said Freedman in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That includes product information, guides or customer service support, whether that’s self-service or agent-assisted. Additionally, they are all specialty stores, meaning they each serve a unique audience, really cater to that audience, and have a strong heritage.”
The survey results indicate the importance of speed during the checkout process, particularly as mobile usage skyrockets. To meet customer demand, retailers are implementing collapsible carts (35% vs. 26% in 2015) and unilaterally pre-populated customer information. The majority (54%) offer a form of one-click checkout, similar to the results from 2015.
Alternative payment types are gaining ground, with PayPal achieving an 83% adoption rate in 2016, up from 74% the previous year. Visa Checkout is accepted by 17% of the retailers, followed by Masterpass with 12%.
In terms of how retailers provide customer service, they seem to be moving away from email as a communication channel as text and online chat gain ground. Six fewer merchants offered an email capability in 2016 versus the previous year. On a positive note, email response times dropped significantly, from an average of 26 hours, 30 minutes in 2015 to 20 hours, 17 minutes in 2016.
Five retailers responded to email queries in less than 30 minutes. The speediest responders were:
• Oriental Trading (25 minutes);
• Staples (18 minutes);
• Steve Madden (17 minutes);
• Uniqlo (12 minutes); and
• Amazon (6 minutes).
Be Your Own Mystery Shopper
Freedman offered some tips for retailers seeking to step up their customer service game. She recommended that retailers:
• Shop their own site to understand strengths and weaknesses;
• Test their own customer service offerings: Is a guarantee visible? Can I easily find contact info? Are enough phone and chat agents available, and are they knowledgeable? Is the help area comprehensive and self-serve in nature?
• Provide enough product information, guides, reviews and videos to take the pressure off Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) who might not have in-depth product knowledge; and
• Arm CSRs with the information they need to answer questions.
Click here to see the complete survey results.