By Kelli B. Grant
Judging by the results of a new study on speedy customer service, Disney Store is liberally sprinkling magic pixie dust on its customer support staff, while calls to Barnes & Noble are getting lost somewhere in the stacks.
Of the 100 big retailers tested in a new study that service ratings firm StellaService, OfficeDepot.com responded fastest to emails, sending most within 48 minutes. Callers to SierraTradingPost.com waited on hold for just six seconds before talking to a live customer service representative. SierraTradingPost.com customer service manager Kimberly Ellingson credits the short wait to a direct-dial number – after a ring or two, you’re immediately connected to a live rep. OfficeDepot.com did not respond to requests for comment.
DisneyStore.com was the only store to be fast at both kinds of communications, answering phone calls in 12 seconds and emails in a little less than two hours. The site sets a bar for its staff of answering calls within 30 seconds, and emails within 24 hours, says Paul Gainer, the senior vice president of Disney Store North America.
Lagging behind the pack, BarnesandNoble.com kept callers on hold the longest, for an average eight minutes and three seconds. CrateandBarrel.com took 88 hours on average to reply to emails. Calls from the media must go into the same queue: neither company responded to requests for comment.
“It’s becoming clear which sites are making customer service a top priority and who’s letting it be just another line item in the budget,” says Jordy Leiser, the co-founder of StellaService. To conduct the study, StellaService staff logged more than 1,200 calls and emails to the companies involved. Based on their experiences, here’s how to get faster service:
Call. “To the extent that you can find the company’s phone number, that’s how you should reach out to them,” Leiser says. It’s significantly faster than email. But some sites make it hard to find a general phone number. Calling the store can yield answers to some questions, if not that elusive corporate toll-free number.
Use a shortcut. GetHuman.com tells you which buttons to press to navigate phone menu mazes. You’ll still wait on hold, but it can cut at least a few minutes off your phone time.
Reach out on Sunday. Eight in 10 sites have staff available then, and the wait times are the shortest. Have to call during the week? Avoid Monday and Friday, Leiser says. The company didn’t see significant difference in wait times based on time of day.