If you’ve ever written an e-mail to a retailer and either never received a reply or received one that did not adequately answer your question, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a new survey, retailers only provided complete responses to customers’ e-mails 54% of the time.
Undercover e-mailers for retail researcher STELLAService spent 45 days sending a total of 1,125 emails to 25 of the largest retailers in the U.S.
The questions were not even complicated complaints that would require research or a thoughtful response. Instead, they were basic questions, such as “is this certain pair of shoes available in the color red and in a size six?”
All that was required of retailers to receive a passing grade was to answer both questions in the e-mail fully.
Topping the list of quality responders was LLBean.com, which provided complete answers to 88.9% of customer e-mails. Gap.com came in second with 84%, followed by Zappos.com (75%), and VictoriasSecret.com and TigerDirect.com (70.4% each).
While many of the 25 companies used automated replies that just directed people to their websites’ help pages, Zappos and four other retailers — Amazon, Macys.com, OfficeMax.com, and Walmart.com — were lauded for responding with e-mails that went beyond mere scripted responses.
STELLAService gives the example of a customer who e-mailed Zappos to ask about if/when the original royal blue Snuggie would become available again on the site. Rather than merely shrugging and pointing the customer to a different product, the Zappos e-mail actually included a link to another retailer where the product was currently available.
“Customers love the ease and practicality of email, but it is clear from our research that retailers are not being diligent about quality replies,” STELLAService CEO Jordy Leiser explains. “In order to meet the needs and expectations of their customers, it’s time for retailers to deliver the same level of quality when communicating with customers via email as they do on the phone.”