Office Depot ranked No. 1 among online retailers responding fastest to customer emails, with Disney, Kohls in top 10; Disney, Nordstrom among top 10 in shortest average customer call hold times: StellaService

NEW YORK , June 13, 2011 (press release) – OfficeDepot.com and SierraTradingPost.com do not like to make their customers wait, according to a major new study of online retailers released today by STELLAService (http://www.stellaservice.com), the first independent provider of customer service ratings for online companies.

In a survey of the Internet’s top 100 retailers by annual revenue, SierraTradingPost.com ranked first when it comes to the shortest average amount of time that customers have to wait on hold before talking to a live customer service representative (6 seconds), while OfficeDepot.com earned first place for responding to customer emails fastest (0:48:00 minutes). Only one company, DisneyStore.com ranked among the top ten for both speediest email support (01:47:40) and phone support (12 seconds). To view more study results, visit http://blog.stellaservice.com/2011/06/13/top-response-times-from-the-top-100-e-retailers/.

Of the top 100 retailers, the five companies with the shortest call hold times are: SierraTradingPost.com (6 seconds), YOOX.com (11 seconds), DisneyStore.com (12 seconds), UrbanOutfitters.com (17 seconds), and Grainger.com (21 seconds), while the companies with the longest call hold times are: BN.com (8 minutes 3 seconds), CSNStores.com (7 minutes 20 seconds), Macys.com (7 minutes 12 seconds), Zones.com (6 minute 56 seconds), and GreenMountainCoffee.com (4 minutes 50 seconds)

According to the study, 31 of the top 100 retailers clocked an average hold time of less than one minute, with the average time to reach a live agent coming in at 1 minute and 41 seconds.

When it comes to the quickest email response time, OfficeDepot.com is followed by MusiciansFriend.com (58 minutes, 40 seconds), Diapers.com (01:23:48), DisneyStore.com (01:47:40), and Abercrombie.com (01:50:45). The companies with the longest email response times are Crateandbarrel.com (88:30:24), Fingerhut.com (79:29:30), Dell.com (65:10:45), SwissColony.com (52:29:15), and MarketAmerica.com (39:35:36). The study found the average email response time across all merchants to be approximately 17 hours.

The study also found that the longest hold times occurred on Mondays and Fridays, while Sunday was the easiest day to reach a live representative. Out of the top 100 Internet retailers, 80% offer call support on Sunday.

Dedicated to helping online shoppers make more informed buying decisions, STELLAService rates thousands of retailers each year across a broad array of criteria, including usability and online tools, shipping and returns, and customer support. The company leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate each site undercover, ensuring findings that are unbiased and true to the shopping experience. Many major retailers, including Zappos, Diapers.com, GNC and more display the STELLAService seal on their websites.

For this study, the company gauged the performance of the Web's top 100 retailers through more than 1200 calls, e-mails, and “mystery shopping” interactions.

Noting that phone and e-mail support are often cited by shoppers as two of the most important factors in customer satisfaction, STELLAService CEO and co-founder Jordy Leiser said the survey’s results would help customers shop smarter, and raise the benchmark for online retailers seeking to draw more customers and boost long term customer loyalty.

“With prices and product selection no longer a key differentiator among online retailers, customer service has become the deal maker or breaker for today’s shopper,” said Leiser. “This study allows shoppers to see at a glance which companies they can count on for outstanding customer support before they click the buy button.”

Other notable findings from the study include:

* The Automotive Parts / Accessories category produced the fastest average e-mail reply time at 3 hours 38 minutes, led by USAutoParts.com.

* The Specialty/Non-Apparel and Office Supplies categories provided the most readily available phone support, with both categories averaging hold times of approximately one minute.

* The Books / Music / Video category averaged the longest call hold time of just over four minutes, with BarnesandNoble.com (8 minutes and 12 seconds) asking customers to wait the longest.

Of the top 100 retailers, the ten companies with the shortest average call hold times are:
1. SierraTradingPost.com (6 seconds)
2. YOOX.com (11 seconds)
3. DisneyStore.com (12 seconds)
4. UrbanOutfitters.com (17 seconds)
5. Grainger.com (21 seconds)
6. Nordstrom.com (21 seconds)
7. Fingerhut.com (23 seconds)
8. MarketAmerica (25 seconds)
9. LLBean.com (25 seconds)
10. Cabelas.com (27 seconds)

The ten companies with the quickest average email response times are (hh:mm:ss):
1. OfficeDepot.com (48 minutes)
2. MusiciansFriend.com (58 minutes, 40 seconds)
3. Diapers.com (01:23:48)
4. DisneyStore.com (01:47:40)
5. Abercrombie.com (01:50:45)
6. USAutoParts.net (03:38:00)
7. Gilt.com (04:43:00)
8. PCMall.com (04:49:48)
9. Kohls.com (05:02.00)
10. Coldwatercreek.com (05:06:10)

Methodology:
Through 1200 calls, e-mails, and “mystery shopping” interactions, STELLAService engaged each business over multiple days and multiple times periods of the day to generate measurements of service performance that have high reliability and construct validity. For the phone support assessment, six phone calls were placed randomly to each Internet retailer, one during a specific time period throughout the business day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). One call was attempted on each day Monday-Thursday and each day of the weekend as well. For the email assessment, six e-mails were placed randomly to each online store, one during a specific time period throughout the business day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). One e-mail was sent on each day, Monday-Saturday.


About STELLAService

Dedicated to helping consumers make more informed online shopping decisions, STELLAService is the first and only independent provider of customer service ratings for online retailers. Using its proprietary, rigorous evaluation system, STELLAService rates thousands of retailers each year across a broad array of criteria, including usability and online tools, shipping and returns and customer support. To maintain its independence and objectivity, STELLAService pays for all products it purchases and relies on its staff of trained, full-time customer experience analysts to test the companies it evaluates. The company has been profiled in Advertising Age (“STELLAService strives to give e-tailers credibility”) and its data has been featured in outlets from The Business Insider to The Chicago Tribune. Based in New York City, the company also publishes reports and other research to help companies worldwide improve their service operations. For more information, visit http://www.STELLAService.com. Follow us on Twitter at @STELLAService.

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