Market Overview

Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index: Retail Brands Ranked by Fastest Phone Response

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Radio Shack, 7-Eleven and Wegman's top list of fastest local store response times. Study shows room for improvement, especially amongst Home Furnishing and Consumer Electronic stores.

CHICAGO, Nov. 1, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ifbyphone, the leader in voice-based marketing automation, today announced the results of the Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index. The study ranked STORES Magazine's 2011 top 100 retail brands by how quickly customers could connect for a live conversation. While the results indicated that the majority of local stores (81%) answered in less than 60 seconds, 1 in 5 stores took longer than a minute to answer, an amount that can feel like an eternity when a customer needs an answer.

A complimentary study in May of 2012, the Ifbyphone Consumer Response Survey, 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. The Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index revealed that the majority of brands were well under this golden minute, but 14 brands, particularly those in Home Furnishings and Consumer Electronics fell outside of this mark.

The study's response times and rankings 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.

Majority of Local Stores Answer in Less than 4 Rings

When calling local numbers, fast response was a common characteristic among nearly all the retail brands contacted for this study. The average time to reach a real person at all 100 brands with local store phone numbers was just under 36 seconds, though the majority (55%) answered in less than 20 seconds. The average was pulled down by 14 brands that took more than a minute to answer. The following are the top most responsive brands at the local level:

Most Responsive Brands, Local Store:
1. 7-Eleven (3 seconds)
1. Radio Shack (3 seconds)
1. Wegman's (3 seconds)
4. Ace Hardware (3.2 seconds)
5. Tractor Supply Co. (3.4 seconds)
6. Dollar General (4 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 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, 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."

Connecting Through a Corporate Number is a Frustrating Affair

Secret shoppers for this study also called the most prominently displayed 800-number listed on each brand's website to follow whichever path they felt was the fastest, most natural way to start a live conversation.

"The Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index 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."

While the top brands expedited customer calls to local store locations, the study found that two-thirds are still lacking on response times 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.

Most Responsive Brands, Corporate:
1. Menards (9 seconds)
2. Hy-Vee (10.2 seconds)
3. H-E-B (12.4 seconds)
4. True Value (15.4 seconds)
5. Save Mart (17.3 seconds)
6. Dillard's (18.2 seconds)
7. Raley's (20.5 seconds)
8. WinCo Foods (25.4 seconds)
9. OSI Flemming's (28 seconds)
10. Supervalu (28.4 seconds)

Restaurants & Automotive Stores Soar, While Electronics and Home Furnishings Lag Behind

At the industry level, three industries made the top five for responsiveness at both corporate and local customer touchpoints: Restaurants / Fast Food, Office Supplies and Automotive Parts & Accessories. The top five local industry performers averaged a roughly 18 second response time versus a one minute and 13 second response time at the corporate level.

Locally, there was more than a full minute of difference in response time between the most and least responsive industries, as the Automotive Parts & Accessories industry averaged nine seconds while Housewares / Home Furnishings clocked-in at one minute and ten seconds.

Industry Responsiveness, Local Store:
1. Automotive Parts & Accessories (9.3 seconds)
2. Restaurants / Fast Food (17.6 seconds)
3. Hardware & Home Improvement (18.4 seconds)
4. Office Supplies (19 seconds)
5. Sporting Goods (27.1 seconds)
6. Books / Music / Video (29.3 seconds)
7. Apparel & Accessories (34.2 seconds)
8. Drug Store / Corner Store (36.1 seconds)
9. Specialty / Non-Apparel (37.1 seconds)
10. Grocery (39.3 seconds)
11. Mass Merchant (39.5 seconds)
12. Computers / Electronics (58.5 seconds)
13. Housewares / Home Furnishings (1 minute, 10 seconds)

Across industries on the corporate level, there was a more than two minute difference between the top (Restaurants / Fast Food) and bottom of the list (Sporting Goods).

Industry Responsiveness, Corporate:
1. Restaurants / Fast Food (55.6 seconds)
2. Apparel & Accessories (1 minute, 7 seconds)
3. Online Merchants (1 minute, 19 seconds)
4. Office Supplies (1 minute, 21 seconds)
5. Automotive Parts & Accessories (1 minute, 22 seconds)
6. Grocery (1 minute, 27 seconds)
7. Specialty / Non-Apparel (1 minute, 35 seconds)
8. Computers / Electronics (1 minute, 54 seconds)
9. Drug Store / Corner Store (1 minute, 57 seconds)
10. Mass Merchant (2 minutes, 15 seconds)
11. Books / Music / Video (2 minutes, 24 seconds)
12. Hardware / Home Improvement (2 minutes, 36 seconds)
13. Sporting Goods (3 minutes, 8 seconds)

"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 Shapiro.

Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index Methodology

Three separate secret shoppers tracked the elapsed time to reach a live company representative on the corporate line of each brand. The secret shoppers called with the same express intention: to hold a brief conversation with a live person to receive a reference to a local store location. Secret Shoppers then called each brand's local store location measuring the same metric: the amount of time it took to reach a live representative. The three secret shoppers provided three data points for each brand on both corporate and local levels in order to determine averages.

The retail brands indexed in this study were those chosen by STORES Magazine as the top 100 retail brands in 2011. See the full list at http://www.stores.org/STORES%20Magazine%20July%202012/top-100-retailers

Download a full copy of the Ifbyphone Responsiveness Index Report here: http://public.ifbyphone.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/IBP-Responsiveness-Index5-report-FINAL.pdf

About Ifbyphone®

Ifbyphone is the leading 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 Ifbyphone suite is a set of software-as-a-service applications implemented easily across an organization to drive sales and improve customer interactions.

Companies of all sizes and across all industries use the Ifbyphone platform including financial services, direct response, health care, home services, lead generation, marketing services, retail, real estate, and telecommunications.

CONTACT: Ifbyphone(R) Media Contact: Meghan Reilly +1 (312) 445-9926; meghan.reilly@walkersands.com Ifbyphone(R) Contact: Jason Ferrara +1 (312) 765-7977; jferrara@ifbyphone.com

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