Win or Lose in a Retail Minute
It doesn’t take long (roughly 60 seconds) for a relationship between a consumer and a retailer to go from good to bad or bad to worse. That’s the finding of recent research measuring the amount of time it takes for stores to answer phone calls from consumers.
According to the Consumer Response Survey published by Ifbyphone in May, 59 percent of consumers were more likely to buy from a brand when a call was answered in under a minute.
New research by the firm, the Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index, which assessed the amount of time it took chain stores to answer calls found that 81 percent came in under the minute mark while the others did not.
The majority of calls to retailers, each a member of STORES’ 2011
Top-100 retail brands, were answered within four rings, and the average amount of time it took to reach a living human being was 36 seconds. Fifty-five percent of calls were answered in fewer than 20 seconds.
The top-10 most responsive retailers in the Ifbyphone list included:
1. 7-Eleven (three seconds)
1. Radio Shack (three seconds)
1. Wegmans (three seconds)
4. Ace Hardware (3.2 seconds)
5. Tractor Supply Co. (3.4 seconds)
6. Dollar General (four seconds)
7. Dillard’s (4.2 seconds)
7. Supervalu (4.2 seconds)
7. Advance Auto Parts (4.2 seconds)
10. Auto Zone (6.2 seconds)
10. Williams-Sonoma (6.2 seconds)
"The outstanding performance of these brands stands as an example of the importance brands place on fast customer response as key to their business model. Clearly, for companies to compete, they need a combination of technology and staff to optimize responsiveness," said Irv Shapiro, CEO of Ifbyphone, in a statement.
One of the biggest challenges discovered in the research is the handoff from consumers calling a toll-free corporate number to a local store.
While Mr. Shapiro pointed out that consumers expect to reach a live person quickly when calling an 800 number, many do not. In fact, the average wait time on calls to sporting goods chains, for example, exceeded three minutes.
Following is a breakout in minutes and seconds by channel:
1. Restaurants/Fast Food (55.6 seconds)
2. Apparel & Accessories (1:07)
3. Online Merchants (1:19)
4. Office Supplies (1:21)
5. Automotive Parts & Accessories (1:22)
6. Grocery (1:27)
7. Specialty/Non-Apparel (1:35)
8. Computers/Electronics (1:54)
9. Drug Store/Corner Store (1:57)
10. Mass Merchant (2:15)
11. Books/Music/Video (2:24)
12. Hardware/Home Improvement (2:36)
13. Sporting Goods (3:08)
"Since customers are much more likely to convert or refer when a call is answered in less than one minute, retail brands, especially at the corporate level, need to adjust their marketing strategies to make responsiveness a higher priority," said Mr. Shapiro.
- Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index: Retail Brands Ranked by Fastest Phone Response – Ifbyphone
- Study: Consumers Waiting On-Hold More Than One Minute Won’t Convert or Refer – Ifbyphone
How important is the time it takes to reach a real person at a retail chain/store to the consumer perception of customer service? Aside from time, are there are other “bad practices” that retailers need to correct when it comes to phone communications with consumers?