E-Tailers Getting Better At Customer Service

E-tailers are getting much better at customer service and delivering usable Web sites, with Overstock, Lowe's, Ralph Lauren and Kmart leading the way, according to a new report from The Customer Respect Group.

In the customer service area, one of the things that has gotten the most favorable attention has been click-to-call, with some of the larger merchants—including Amazon, BestBuy and LLBean—pushing the technology as a way to stop abandoned shopping carts, said Customer Respect Group President Terry Golesworthy.

Why is retailing now doing better than some other sectors, such as insurance? Golesworthy said insurance is a good example of a vertical that suffers from a history where call centers were discouraged from answering a lot of customer questions. That was because they saw it as robbing local agents of the opportunity to answer those questions and potentially upsell the customer to purchase something more expensive.

On the downside, of the 51 major retailers examined, several had work to do in specific areas. In the simplicity category, for example, where sites were examined for how easy they were to navigate, Safeway, Peapod and Abercrombie & Fitch fared poorly.

The worst sites for responsiveness to customer inquiries were Drugstores.com, PCMall, Buy.com, CompUSA, Coles, Pier 1 Imports and, at the very bottom, RadioShack. "All these tech guys were way down there," Golesworthy said.