As Online Spending Surges, Customer Service Lags Behind

Ask a justifiably disgruntled Best Buy customer if big online retailers were prepared for a record boost in holiday e-commerce, and you’ll probably get a resounding “no” – with some added expletives.
For the holiday season through Dec. 18, nearly $32 billion has been spent online, a 15 percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. And Cyber Monday this year broke the single-day record with $1.25 billion in online purchases.
But Black Friday and other big e-commerce days this season so overwhelmed Best Buy, the largest electronics retailer, that it was unable to handle its own highly promoted sales.
Many Best Buy online shoppers this week complained vigorously that some of their orders placed in November or December were being canceled, just days before Christmas.
“Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders,” Best Buy said in the emailed statement. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and we have notified the affected customers.”
Another major retailer Target failed to keep up with online demand in September when customers rushed to purchase a limited designer line of clothing and products for the home.
A study released Dec. 7 shows that 76 percent of top retailers failed to deliver on customer satisfaction, according to STELLAService and Compuware.
The study analyzed both customer service and website performance of the top 25 U.S. retailers during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday online shopping season.
The study found that 76 percent of the top 25 retailers struggled to provide online shoppers with both first-rate customer service and site performance.
Only six of the top 25 retailers earned high marks for overall customer experience, including the speed of web page downloads and the length of time it took for retailers to answer customer support calls.
“Only a small handful of retailers are providing a seamless, high-quality shopping experience from start to finish, while the rest are under-performing in at least one area of the online customer experience,” said Jordy Leiser, CEO of STELLAService.