Great Shopping Experiences
The holiday season can be a stressful time to go shopping, with all the crowds rummaging for deals around you. But one thing can make the experience tolerable: quality customer service.
This month, the National Retail Federation put out its annual list of the 10 stores with the best customer service, based on surveys of more than 9,000 shoppers. Consumers were asked a simple open-ended question: “Thinking of all the different retail formats (store, catalog, internet or home shopping), which retailer delivers the best customer service?”
In total, the NRF ranked 46 stores, and will release that data in January. For now, here are the 10 best stores for customer service, listed alphabetically rather than by rank, as well as some background information about what makes their customer service better than most.
Let us know in the comments which of the stores on this list would be your personal pick, or if there’s another store which you believe deserves to be singled out for customer service.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Amazon has made a name for itself by offering great deals, but part of the charm of this popular retail website is its excellent customer service. Users can either have Amazon contact them by e-mail or enter in a phone number for an Amazon representative to call. This way, consumers never have to wait on hold for a call, and representatives are always quick to respond.
As one customer wrote on a comment board last year, “Either I’m just very lucky, or they are really good, because EVERY time I call them, they are just incredible.”
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
J.C. Penney ranked among the 10 best stores for customer service last year as well and for good reason. As one customer found out firsthand, they are very responsive and know how to please their customers.
“Since I am often quick to criticize poor service, I want to be sure to give credit for good service when it's due,” one user wrote on PlanetFeedback.com, a customer reviews site. “We had purchased a camera thru your company for my daughter this past Christmas. She had taken two pictures and the camera quit working. I contacted the customer service via e-mail and was told they would replace the camera or give me a refund for the purchase price. I was so happy. I had failed to keep any of the warranty information for the camera, so this was such a blessing to us.”
Photo Credit: jcpenny.com
Kohl’s has a thorough website full of advice for customers, as well as a toll-free customer service hotline with representatives available every day of the week. But one of the great assets that Kohl’s has, which many of the online retailers on this list do not, is the opportunity to offer quality customer service in the store itself.
“We narrowed the search down to three pairs [of shorts] that I liked, but they didn’t have my size in any of them on the floor. I found an employee, and he checked the back, but they didn’t have any there, either. He brought another employee out who informed me that I could call Kohls.com from the back of their store, and if they had them in stock, they would ship it to me for free,” one customer wrote on Moneybeagle.com, a personal finance site.
“So, off I went to the back of the store to use the courtesy phone near the customer service desk. I called and spoke with a very friendly woman, and she was happy to walk me through the process. They did have the style in my size, and I was even able to give her my coupon code for additional savings!”
Photo Credit: Kohls.com
The motto for customer service at Lands’ End is simple and to the point: “We take it personally.” The company does everything it can to make consumers happy, whether it’s providing customers with personal shoppers available by phone and text message, or letting customers return any item they aren’t satisfied with for a full refund, no strings attached.
Photo Credit: LandsEnd.com
L.L. Bean consistently ranks at the top of NRF’s list for best customer service, and has clearly made a conscious decision to build its business on solid customer care.
The chain’s website offers an easy-to-use live chat online with a customer service representative, as well as help via phone and e-mail. But perhaps its most well-known perk is an excellent return policy that lets customers ship back or exchange any item they’ve bought at any time free of charge, whether it be a few days after the purchase or a few years.
Photo Credit: llbean.com
Newegg, a popular online technology seller, has one of the best websites for customer service of any retailer. On one well-designed page of the site, customers can find contact information for every major electronics manufacturer, tools to check the status of their recent orders and returns, and, perhaps best of all, a constantly updated list of rebates which they can apply to current and even previous purchases.
And if that’s not enough, the company still has excellent customer service representatives available to help out by phone.
“I placed an order for desktop pc memory which came with a $20 MIR [mail in rebate]. Unfortunately, the company who makes the memory did not want to honor the MIR and refused to even acknowledge the many attempts I made to get a status update from them,” one customer wrote on Viewpoints.com, a consumer reviews site. “ After all attempts failed, I called Newegg and let them know the problem I had. Newegg gave me a $20 discount off a future order just to keep me a satisfied customer. How many retailers would do that without making you jump through 7,000 hoops? Not many at all.”
Photo Credit: Newegg.com
Nordstrom may be more high-end than the other retailers on this list, but that doesn’t stop it from offering one of the most generous return policies of any store. Not only does the store have an unlimited period for returns, but it will also provide you with a full refund if and when you do choose to return an item.
Beyond this, the company also has plenty of knowledgable representatives on staff to help customers.
“Normally I am not too big of a fan of high end department stores, mainly because they only showcase the most popular items from each brand. However, I really enjoy shopping at Nordstrom for all occasions, and casual wear,” one customer wrote on Rateitall, a consumer reviews site. “Nordstrom also offers very good customer service, having an abundance of workers at each section.”
Photo Credit: WikiCommons.org
Overstock.com has made it on the NRF’s top 10 list for several years now, and came in second on last year’s list. In one interview with the NRF, the company’s executive director quipped that its motto is, “the customer may not always be right, but they deserve justice.”
However, we do feel like noting that Overstock’s customer service rating, which is based on dozens of user reviews on their own website, is just 2.9 out of 5. Most of the negative reviews stem from concerns complaining about problems they had when returning items. Still, many customers have had positive experiences.
“I have been ordering from Overstock.com for several years. The quality of the products I have ordered are GREAT. The people I have talked with on the phone are Great ... and NO shipping charges or $2.95 shipping charges … how cool is it that this savings is passed on to me the customer,” one user wrote on its website.
Photo Credit: Overstock.com
In the more than two decades since QVC was created, it has arguably become the most popular shopping service on television. Part of the reason for this is the company’s ability to connect with its customers, be it with charming hosts selling goods on tv, or by regularly surveying customers to find out how to best to manage their business. As the Senior VP of Customer Services told the NRF, “we focus on establishing an emotional connection with a customer on every call.”
A generous 30-day return policy (which was recently extended for an extra month during the holiday season) and an easy to use website prove it’s no wonder that customers would rate this company well.
“Easy to place an order. Great at taking back returns. Merchandise described well,” one customer wrote on Rateitall.com. “As a full time working mother, I've found this to be very, very helpful in saving time and money!”
Photo Credit: QVC.com
Zappos has repeatedly been praised for its incredible customer service over the years. In one case this year, which will likely go down in the e-commerce history books, there was a brief glitch on Zappos’ website causing everything to be priced at just $50. Naturally, customers jumped at the deals. When Zappos caught the mistake, it fixed it, but allowed customers to keep the products at that price, rather than ask for the correct amount of money.
Aside from this, Zappos is also well-known for its incredible return policy, which allows customers to ship back purchases anytime within a year free of charge.
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