Online Broker Review 2011
Great customer support means it’s easy to access, and users get a fast response and an enjoyable experience. When evaluating customer support for each broker, we first took into consideration the overall offering: phone support, e-mail, live chat, and help tutorials/FAQs. The time and days of the week these services were offered also came into play. Next up was how quickly the broker responded to our questions. Finally, the experience itself is crucial as some reps truly left us satisfied as clients.
While there were several brokers that we rated as five stars for customer service, the best in our research was TD Ameritrade* with a very close second going to Charles Schwab. TD Ameritrade* had us connected to a rep on the phone within minutes, and our e-mails were always promptly returned with professional and thorough answers. One unique feature we particularly enjoyed was Ted, the virtual client support representative, who made answering basic questions about the site very easy (fees info, finding forms, etc.). Combine this with thinkorswim from TD Ameritrade's live chat support*, and we couldn't be happier.
In a close second, Charles Schwab wowed us with its first-class phone support. Within 30 minutes of opening a new account, a representative called us to answer any questions. When we told them we were interested in testing their platform before funding an account, they graciously offered us temporary "Schwab Active Trader" status to test all of their premium tools. A week later, we had another follow-up call to see how everything was coming along. The only downside to Charles Schwab: no live chat support.
While testing customer support in general, we experienced a wide variety of interesting situations. ChoiceTrade's live chat rep didn't even have a name, answered questions with no further links or help, and topped it off by ending the session without even a goodbye. With Fidelity, the service rep we encountered was very kind and helpful, and after letting her know we were a more active investor seeking to test their platform with our new account first before funding, she informed us that a rep would phone us very soon to be of further help. Unfortunately, it took a full week for a Fidelity representative to finally call us.
We did, however, have some great experiences, our favorite being Zecco's live chat. The agent gave very detailed answers to numerous questions, used professional phrases such as "that is a great question," and ended our session by wishing us “Happy Holidays!” — a top-notch experience in our opinion.
|E*Trade||Review||Open an account|
|Charles Schwab||Review||Open an account|
|OptionsXpress||Review||Open an account|
When it comes to customer service, the ability to suit the needs of your client day in and day out is no easy task. For those brokers that succeed in delivering a unique experience through multiple means, the reward is a happy, long-term client who will likely bring more investors through the door.
* - TD Ameritrade includes thinkorswim platform. Merger to be completed in 2011.