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Wegmans, 7-Eleven and Radio Shack are among the top-ranked retailers on Ifbyphone’s Responsiveness Index, which ranks Stores magazine’s 2011 top 100 retail brands by how quickly customers could connect for a live conversation.
While the results indicate that the majority of local stores (81 percent) answered in less than 60 seconds, one in five stores took longer than a minute to answer, a fairly long lag time in terms of customer service. Ifbyphone’s Consumer Response Survey, a complimentary study conducted in May, found consumers were 59 percent more likely to buy and 73 percent more likely to recommend a brand when a call was answered in less than a minute.
When calling local numbers, a fast response was a common characteristic among nearly all the retail brands contacted for the study. The average time to reach an associate at all 100 brands with local store phone numbers was just under 36 seconds, though the majority (55 percent) answered in less than 20 seconds.
Most Responsive Brands, Local Store:
- 7-Eleven (3 seconds)
- Radio Shack (3 seconds)
- Wegmans (3 seconds)
- Ace Hardware (3.2 seconds)
- Tractor Supply Co. (3.4 seconds)
- Dollar General (4 seconds)
- Dillard's (4.2 seconds)
- Supervalu (4.2 seconds)
- Advance Auto Parts (4.2 seconds)
- Auto Zone (6.2 seconds)
- Williams-Sonoma (6.2 seconds)
"The Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index clearly indicates that regardless of ranking, the top 100 brands demonstrate a commitment to answering customer calls quickly," said Irv Shapiro, CEO of Chicago-based Ifbyphone. "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."
While the top brands expedited customer calls to local store locations, the study found that response times for two-thirds of retailers are lacking at the corporate level. It took between one and eight minutes to reach a real person in the bottom two-thirds, and customers waited an average of two minutes and 15 seconds to hold a live conversation.
"The [study] measured calls to corporations in order to include the experience of a customer calling a brand at the main number displayed on its website," added Shapiro. "Most callers to an 800 number expect to quickly reach a live person."
Most Responsive Brands, Corporate:
- Menards (9 seconds)
- Hy-Vee (10.2 seconds)
- H-E-B (12.4 seconds)
- True Value (15.4 seconds)
- Save Mart (17.3 seconds)
- Dillard's (18.2 seconds)
- Raley's (20.5 seconds)
- WinCo Foods (25.4 seconds)
- OSI Flemming's (28 seconds)
- Supervalu (28.4 seconds)
Because customers' purchase behavior and likelihood of recommending a brand is linked to retailers' responsiveness, "retail brands, especially at the corporate level, need to adjust their marketing strategies to make responsiveness a higher priority," said Shapiro.
Ifbyphone is a voice-based marketing automation platform that manages, measures and automates sales and service calls -- including ad tracking, lead distribution, hosted IVR, and voice broadcasting. The response times and rankings of the Responsiveness Index Methodology were measured by three independent secret shoppers who collected the amount of time it took for each brand to start a live conversation at both local and corporate locations.