Some customer service call centers more effective than others on Cyber Monday

Recent research conducted by mystery shopping network STELLAService analyzed how effective retail customer call centers were at mitigating wait times during Cyber Monday.

Recent research conducted by mystery shopping network STELLAService analyzed how effective retail customer call centers were at mitigating wait times during Cyber Monday.

In general, researchers found that the average call wait times were 139 percent higher than normal for the top 25 retailers, with each call taking around seven minutes to reach a live customer service agent.

According to Jordy Leiser, cofounder and CEO of the mystery shopping network, much of the blame can be placed on higher-than-expected customer spending, which led to increased inquiries about the products purchased.

"Clearly there was a degradation in performance, especially in phone support," Leiser said. "Most companies performed far worse as compared to the baseline."

Sony, HSN and Kohl's were the three retailers with the longest average call wait times. Sony customers waited an average of 11 minutes and 20 seconds, while the average at HSN was nine minutes and 25 seconds and the average at Kohl's was nine minutes and four seconds.

However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Nordstrom, Overstock.com and L.L.Bean customers had minuscule wait times, as each store averaged less than one minute, with Nordstrom the leader at just 18 seconds.

"It's reassuring to see that the names and brands that people hold up as champions in customer service are working hard to maintain their reputations," noted Leiser. "They've earned and deserved the reputations they have."

In terms of overall email response time, 65 percent of stores responded to customers' questions within 24 hours. Overstock, Toy "R" Us, Amazon and HPShopping.com were the only companies to respond to all emails within a day's time, while JCPenney was unable to answer any.

Live chat support was also analyzed, although just 14 of the 25 top retailers offered the function. Of those, only three - Amazon, Overstock and Sears - were able to significantly reduce the amount of time it took to reach a live chat agent.

Customer Management IQ offered some tips for businesses that struggled with call center and email customer service.

Managers can increase their total number of personnel on the phones, although this is an expensive option and typically frowned upon. They can also institute a policy that requires agents to spend less time on each call. Lastly, utilizing automated responses for simple requests and call direction can streamline each query to the correct agent.