Which Online Retailer Does E-Mail Best?

Months before the hectic holiday shopping season, we decided to conduct an experiment to find out which online retailer does customer service e-mail best. We sent the same e-mail query to seven big-name retailers that sell a certain toy croquet set we were interested in buying and having shipped to a “nephew” who lives in Switzerland. We wanted to compare how well Amazon.com, Buy.com, Overstock.com. Sears, Toys R Us, Walmart, and Alex Toys answered the same customer question.

We evaluated:

  • Response time: How long did the customer wait for the e-mail reply?
  • Tone: How friendly was the agent? Did the tone of the writing build rapport between the customer and the company
  • First contact resolution: Did the agent answer the customer’s question completely?
  • Clear writing: Is the writing concise, correct, and complete?
  • Other sources of help: Did the answer include a phone number and links to the FAQs or knowledgebase?

Some of the e-mails contained some serious blunders!

  • Overstock.com wrote this incomprehensible sentence: “These Answers were automatically selected for your consideration. If your issue is addressed in our public Answers, the solution link should be listed below. If no solutions are listed or the solutions do not match your issue, there were no public Answers matching your issue.” I’m so confused! I know I have a question, but until I read Overstock.com’s e-mail, I didn’t realize I also have an “issue” that requires a “solution” or a “public Answer.”
  • Amazon.com withheld an answer because I e-mailed them from a different address than the one Amazon has on record for me. Amazon wrote ” I’d love to help you, but I wasn’t able to find a customer account that matched the e-mail address you wrote from, AABBCC@gmail.com. We can only provide account and order information to the e-mail address associated with the account. ” All I wanted was to know whether Amazon could ship a toy to Switzerland. Hmm. I guess my money isn’t green unless I’m logged in?

Download this whitepaper and read the retailers’ e-mails and our comments on which companies provided excellent service and which ones disappointed a prospective customer.

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