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Retail Trends

Measuring Up

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At a time when retailers are growing increasingly competitive over market share, customer service has become one of the most important differentiating factors.

“There isn’t a huge difference in prices anymore, and the web allows many retailers a large selection,” says Jordy Leiser, CEO and co-founder of customer service-ranking company STELLAService. “At the end of the day it’s all about service.”

Retailers have measured customer experience through surveys, ratings and follow-up e-mails. But with nothing to compare those findings to, it’s hard to tell how those results measure up. The company’s newest tool, STELLAService Metrics, provides access to a portal allowing retailers to compare their metrics with those of other retailers.

STELLAService measures more than 300 different elements of the online customer experience, organizing and ranking the data in a system providing daily metrics for dozens of retailers. Leiser says the company hopes to have daily monitoring of several hundred top online retailers by the end of the year.

Vice president of operations Dave Miller says agents perform evaluations independent of one another, with different scenarios to test different metrics.

Purchases are made from each company to track things like shipping time, packaging, presentation and fulfillment. Agents then call the retailer with questions and return the item to grade the returns process.

“They all work full time and the data is updated daily,” Miller says. “We can really control how the data is collected and we use our own survey system.”

Measuring the competition
Information available through STELLAService Metrics includes not just analytics on customer service but actual photos of the products in the boxes so that retailers can see exactly how other retailers are packaging and shipping their merchandise. Leiser says packaging is important, since it’s the first physical impression a customer will have of an online retailer.

STELLAService agents frequently change the products they buy. One month it may be watches from apparel retailers; another month it may be point-and-shoot cameras from electronics retailers.

Users can drill down into the data and compare metrics: How long it took to answer a call; how helpful the agent was; whether or not they were able to answer any questions; and how long it took to return a product.

“There may be a company that is doing something very efficient or just blowing away their competition,” says Leiser, “and you may try to replicate that experience in your category.”

STELLAService recently started beta testing with three of the top 35 online retailers. Leiser says the feedback has been phenomenal because retailers cannot find such data anywhere else. The passive way in which information is obtained means STELLAService does not need the participation of retailers to compile data and rankings.

“When you can show a retailer their own data compared to others, it is highly valuable information,” Leiser says. “You can find out how you measure up against your competition.”

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