Visit us on Facebook!
Visit us at STELLAService.com
Call us: (212) 366-1483
Email us: email@example.com
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever been told to “Go Climb a Tree“? Well, we have and it’s quite rude. Unless you’re remarkably dense (or you’re a squirrel), being told to go climb a tree is something no online shopper should experience. With that in mind, why are so many retailers eschewing good customer service and essentially telling us to do just that?
Using data for the power of good, we’ve come up with some interesting customer service facts about the use of phone-trees and how it impacts retailer call hold times. Only 21 of the Internet’s top 100 retailers connect shoppers directly to a live agent. That list expands to 22 if we also include 1-800 CONTACTS, which falls just outside the top 100 at #101 (We’re especially impressed that a business that bears its customer service phone number as its name, which leads to even higher call volume, steers clear of an IVR to ensure the best possible experience for shoppers).
Unfortunately for shoppers, however, MOST OF THE INTERNET’S TOP RETAILERS require shoppers to strap on climbing shoes, chalk up their hands, and prepare to mount what is often times an arduous phone-tree (otherwise known as an IVR — Interactive Voice Response). Sadly, the odds of calling a retailer and being put directly in touch with a human being are out of your favor.
This inability to be directly connected with a human is more often than not accompanied by frustration. If you identify with this frustration, take solace, you have solidarity — turns out 71% of shoppers become extremely irritated when they cannot reach another human being on the phone. Even worse, 67% of those same people surveyed became so frustrated that they hung up the phone without resolving their issue at all. To make matters worse, we found that of the top 100 retailers, those who use an IVR have an average call hold time of one minute and fifty one seconds (1:51). Compare that to the fifty one second (0:51) average call hold time of retailers that do not use an IVR, and you can definitely pick up a trend.
So what can you do to help ensure that the first thing you speak to is a human and not HAL (or any other computer system for that matter)? Our ratings are a pretty solid indicator. Turns out, ten out of the top ten retailers with the shortest average hold times do not use phone-trees. Even better, those same ten retailers all achieved either STELLAService Elite or Excellent ratings.
(click below graph to enlarge to full-view)The above chart was updated in September 2011: Fingerhut.com, which was included in the original post, has since been excluded due to an insufficient sample size.
31% of the Internet’s top 100 retailers have call hold times under one minute. Out of that group, 90% are rated either Elite or Excellent. While average call hold time is by no means the be-all end-all when it comes to a retailer’s customer service, we think it’s an important indicator of the overall service you’re likely to receive. Take a look at our ratings. Although not every retailer who has earned a top rating will put you directly in touch with a human when you call them (or make you wait less than a minute), there are many that will; and there are even more that will provide you a terrific all-around customer experience!
Here at STELLAService, we try not to name names when complaining, but I’m sure you can think of a company whose customer service call hold times are consistently so long that you have to block out a time for it in your schedule.
What if I told you that you’ll never have to wait on hold again? Meet LucyPhone, a free service dedicated to preventing the many headaches, neck cramps, and frustration caused by long hold times. Featured most recently in a New York Times article and also on Lifehacker and The Consumerist blogs, LucyPhone does the holding for you. Log on to LucyPhone.com and create your free account. Back on the homepage, you can search for the company within their existing directory of used numbers, or enter the number you wish to call. You then enter your own phone number, and click start. Within seconds, LucyPhone calls you, and reminds you how things work, then connects you to the number you entered online. Things start off as they normally would, until you get put on hold to wait for the “next available customer service representative.”
How many times have you wanted to hang up at this point? After ten minutes? Twenty? An hour? Now you can. When put on hold while using LucyPhone, you simply press ”**” and your phone will be disconnected, while Lucy stays on the line. Feel free to do other things, without having to hear annoying hold music or needing to keep your head pressed to the phone waiting for an answer. When a live agent is on the line, Lucy calls you back immediately and connects you both. If you get put on hold again, just press “**” again!
While LucyPhone’s success does require some cooperation from representatives (albeit this is minimal – when they pick up your call they hear a recording telling them to press “1″ in order to be connected with the awaiting customer), LucyPhone is mutually beneficial for the customer service representatives.
“We’ve cooled their jets a little,” co-founder Tom Oristian said of LucyPhone customers. “These agents are delighted to have customers ready to talk about the problem at hand instead of ranting about how long they’ve been on hold.”
Now, if only there was a solution for waiting in long store check-out lines…
DISCLAIMER: While LucyPhone helps to make things less annoying and more convenient, a long wait for a response is annoying and inconvenient regardless of how the time “on hold” is spent. This invention does not mean –and this post is not trying to suggest- that long call hold times are now okay. Sorry!