Seventy-Six Percent of Top Retailers Fail to Deliver Seamless Online Customer Experience During Record-Breaking Holiday Shopping Weekend

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Study by STELLAService and Compuware Reveals Top 25 Retailers Struggled to Provide First-Rate Customer Service and Performance Satisfaction

STELLAService, an independent company evaluating customer service performance and Compuware Corporation, the technology performance company, today revealed initial results of a joint study of customer experience over the record-breaking holiday shopping weekend.

The study analyzed both customer service and website performance satisfaction of the top 25 U.S. retailers to determine if they provided a seamless customer experience for shoppers during the critical holiday online shopping season. The study revealed that 76 percent of the top 25 retailers struggled to provide online shoppers with both first-rate customer service and top performance satisfaction.

Only six of the top 25 retailers earned high marks for overall customer experience across the entire online shopping experience - from the speed of web page downloads to the length of time it took for retailers to answer customer support calls - between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The six retailers receiving high scores in these key areas included: Amazon, Avon, L.L. Bean, Macys, Overstock, and Sears.

“With most major retailers competing closely on deals, prices and shipping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, keeping customers happy with strong site performance and exceptional service is crucial to keeping them coming back and, ultimately, maximizing sales during the holiday season,” said Jordy Leiser, CEO of STELLAService. “Only a small handful of retailers are providing a seamless, high-quality shopping experience from start to finish, while the rest are underperforming in at least one area of the online customer experience.”

“Assessing customer experience is a multi-faceted process. This study underscores the value of a single source for customer experience metrics focused on the entire online shopping process,” said Jonathan Ranger, Gomez Benchmark Practice Director at Compuware. “Retailers looking to improve customer satisfaction for the remainder of the holiday season should implement best practices to ensure efficient web performance and effective customer service interaction across all channels.”

STELLAService and Compuware will publish a complete customer experience results report for the 2011 online holiday season. Below are best practices that retailers should follow to maximize customer service and performance for the remainder of the holiday season:

Customer Service:

  •     Be Available and Responsive: Time is money, so don’t keep your customers waiting. Regardless of the communication channel (e.g. phone, email, chat), be responsive to your shoppers needs or else their extended waits will turn into clicks to another retailer’s site.
  •     Less is More - Stick to the Basics: For online retailers, no matter how high-tech the website or the products, having a basic, easy-to-use customer interface with easy-to-find tools such as advanced search, shopping carts, FAQ, and contact pages are essential to ensuring a positive customer experience.
  •     Every Experience with Your Customer Counts: Like most things in life, there’s no second chance at a first impression. Make sure every interaction counts—that means speedy replies, clear communication and friendly and helpful service.

Website Performance:

  •     Analyze Performance Against the Competition and Industry Leaders: It is important to have an understanding of the average performance metrics for your industry. If your site is not within that range, you are pushing customers away to the competition and losing revenue.
  •     Evaluate the Performance of Both Your Website Home Page and Key Business Transactions: You need to understand how well your home page performs — it’s the front door to your site. Once your customers access your site, they are there to do something – these are your most important transactions and they must perform optimally for your customers.
  •     Baseline Performance and Continually Access It: Identify a baseline for your performance and then assess performance over time as you implement changes and as outside factors affect your site.

Compuware Corporation
Compuware Corporation, the technology performance company, provides software, experts and best practices to ensure technology works well and delivers value. Compuware solutions make the world’s most important technologies perform at their best for leading organizations worldwide, including 46 of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies and 12 of the top 20 most visited U.S. websites. Learn more at: http://www.compuware.com.

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. The company leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate each site across more than 350 metrics, ensuring findings that are unbiased and true to the shopping experience. its data has been featured in outlets such as Time, SmartMoney, Consumerist, and CBS Money Watch . 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. Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/STELLAService.

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Patrick Kowalczyk
For STELLAService
212-627-8098
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Brenda Menard
For Compuware
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