By Debra Atlas
Online retailers generally are not known for great customer service. Instead, they build their reputation on offering quality products and prompt delivery, and many carry a variety of eco-friendly or sustainable products.
One online retailer has figured out how to put all this together. Bucking the norm, Greenfeet strives to offer online shopping that is easy, fun, and steeped in customer service. One of the original online retail stores, Greenfeet features thousands of sustainably sourced healthy-living and food products. The company seeks to offer products which are well made, built to last, and produced in a fashion that is not detrimental to people or to the planet—all while providing customer service.
This last criterion recently earned Greenfeet a STELLAService award. STELLAService is an independent, third-party company that identifies and awards online retailers that demonstrate excellent customer service.
“We think customer service is a simple idea. We’re champions for companies treating customers right,” says Jordy Leiser, CEO of STELLAService.
Launched in 2010, STELLAService is about transparency in the marketplace. “This is an important thing for online commerce,” says Leiser. “Businesses really want to improve. They’ve never really been able to benchmark what their performance is before.”
STELLAService provides insight for companies on how well they are doing from a customer’s perspective. It gave Greenfeet an “excellent” rating for customer service. Greenfeet did not know it was being scrutinized for this award, says Valerie Reddmann, Greenfeet’s co-founder and “Chief Yoo-hoo.”
STELLAService evaluates companies in three overall categories:
- Customer online experience;
- Company shipping and return policies and practices; and
- Customer support (any interaction that a customer would have with the business).
STELLAService utilizes what it calls “mystery shoppers on steroids”—people who work 40 hours a week for STELLAService evaluating thousands of companies large and small. This year, Leiser says the company plans to evaluate 4,000 companies. To do so, STELLAService contacts nominated companies and interacts with them—by phone and online.
“[The mystery shoppers] evaluate [the company] as if they were the manager of their call center,” says Leiser.
“They want to see how Greenfeet reacts, how they treat their customers,” Reddmann adds.
STELLAService has three levels of rating. First is the basic “approved” level.
“Less than 50 percent of the [thousands of] companies that go through the process make that,” says Reddmann. “It tells me there’s a big problem with [delivering] good customer service these days.”
The next level is the “excellent” rating. Reddmann says Greenfeet received this high rating.
You can see Greenfeet’s rating on STELLAService’s site. Among the factors that Greenfeet received an “outstanding” rating on are its return policy, friendly knowledgeable support, and outstanding gifting options.
The third and highest rating any online retailer can receive is STELLAService’s “elite.” This rating is very difficult to get to, says Reddmann. But she is determined that Greenfeet will achieve it.
Companies such as Amazon and Zappos have achieved this level. “It’s a high echelon of service that I’m sure we’ll get to,” Redmann says. “It’s a coveted seal, a badge of honor.” And it is one rating that award winners proudly display on their Web sites.
To ensure that award recipients maintain their rated level of service, STELLAService revisits companies a minimum of once a year. Customers can visit company profiles and leave feedback and comments about their own experiences. STELLAService makes sure to take this information into consideration.
Winning the award has motivated Greenfeet to “up our game even more” and exceed customers’ expectations, Reddmann says. “We try to be fresh, true, and we don’t overcomplicate things,” she says, noting that green living is going back to basics.
“It’s about relating to customers as people,” says Reddmann, “treating them as we would want to be treated and adding a sense of humor.”
Check out more articles by Debra Atlas.
© 2011 SCGH, LLC.