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What You Can Learn From Top Online Retailers’ Customer Service

What does it take to exceed customer expectations when it comes to ecommerce customer service? Speedy responses in all communication channels, as well as handling returns well, make the difference, according to the latest StellaService benchmarks ranking of ecommerce customer service.

Ecommerce company L.L. Bean took top honors in the rankings, which rate online retail companies in five customer service areas: phone, email, chat, shipping and returns. Bean ranked in the top 10 for all of the service areas except shipping, where it did not make the top 25.

So what makes for great ecommerce customer service? Customers want to get help fast, and L.L. Bean delivers. Customer service representatives consistently answered phone calls in less than 30 seconds, and replied to emails in slightly more than one hour. Compare that to the overall average for online clothing sales: four out of 10 such companies take more than 12 hours to respond to emails, while three out of 10 take more than two minutes to answer the phone.

Ease of returns also helped L.L. Bean’s customer service excel. Returns are processed in an average of six days, and customers receive prepaid shipping labels with their orders for maximum convenience.

Boost your own ecommerce customer service quality by:

  • Focus on your people. Set achievable benchmarks for your customer service employees, gradually improving their skills with increasing standards. Track response times to customer emails and calls, and make improvements where needed.
  • Use the right tech tools. Choosing the right customer service software can make a world of difference. For example, you can use routing systems to make sure customers get to the right place, use auto-attendant features to speed them through phone calls and prioritize on-hold calls based on importance.
  • Adding live chat to your website. Last year, according to the StellaService report, 16 major retailers added live chat to their ecommerce customer service options. Chat not only provides ultra-fast response times, but also allows you to reach out and help customers before they even ask a question.

Want to check out the rest of the top 10 retailers with the best ecommerce customer service? In descending order:

  1. Net-A-Porter
  2. Shopbop
  4. Burberry
  5. Zappos
  6. Kate Spade
  7. Coach
  8. iHerb
  9. David Yurman

L.L. Bean’s domination over so many high-end online retailers proves that you don’t have to be a big business to provide great customer service — you just have to care.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at