Study: JCPenney, Avon, Gap Websites Are Worst At Responding To Customer E-Mails

After years of being trained to dread contacting a company via phone, lest we get trapped in the automated phone tree, customers are turning to e-mail for resolving their customer service issues. And while a new study shows that a majority of the top online retailers did a passable job of replying to customer inquiries, a handful of websites apparently decided to give their e-mail customer service teams some extra time off this holiday season.

The study, conducted by STELLAservice, tracked e-mails sent to 24 of the top online retailers over this past Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Overall, 67% of e-mails received some sort of response within 24 hours. That’s down from a 73% average during a two-week period earlier in the month.

However, that 67% is slightly misleading, as 16 of the 24 companies performed at least this well. Nine retailers demonstrated a response rate greater than 90%.

It’s the bottom end of the chart that weighs the average down, with five retailers scoring 25% or worse, including JCPenney.com, which managed to avoid returning a single customer e-mail within 24 hours.

Websites for Gap and Avon fared only slightly not-as-horribly, as each company replied to 8% of the e-mails it received within the time limit.

On the positive end of things, four retailers — HP, Amazon, ToysRus.com, and Overstock.com — scored perfect 100% results. Of course, these scores say nothing about the quality of the response, merely that the e-mail received some sort of reply from the company.

Also of interest is Target.com, which has had its fair share of problems since relaunching in the late summer. But if you were hoping that Target customer service would be more responsive after the thrashing its received over its site crashes and bizarre billing and inventory issues, the 33% result in the STELLAservice study does little to allay one’s concerns.

Holidays Bring Joyful and Frustrating Customer Service for Online Shoppers (Part 2 – Email Support) [STELLAservice]