When assessing customer service, one phone call or live chat conversation is not enough. To really gauge the quality of support, multiple tests across every channel must be conducted. In our assessment, phone support was weighed the heaviest, and comprised more than 50% of the overall score, with email and live chat following thereafter. If a broker did not offer live chat, then quality phone and email support became that much more important.
Fidelity, despite its size with millions of clients, has taken No. 1 spot for the past two years. In our 2014 Broker Review, Fidelity ranked first for both phone and live chat. Although Fidelity did not take any top slots for phone, email, or live chat testing, the broker finished in the top three for each one. The consistency and ability of support reps to deliver an A or A+ experience time and again are truly impressive.
Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer on Monday, February 16th, 2015 .
Options: $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
Focusing first on phone support, most brokers were on top of their game, as 82% of all phone tests were connected to a rep within one minute. The brokers with the longest single hold times were Interactive Brokers and OptionsHouse. In the case of Interactive Brokers, despite three separate attempts over the course of a day, we could not get connected to a rep after being transferred to new accounts and waiting at least five minutes. OptionsHouse at least picked up, albeit after a lengthy, 13-minute wait. Out of all the phone tests we conducted (over 100), only four tests received a perfect score. In the end, Charles Schwab came out on top, delivering a high-quality experience each time.
In the email department, Lightspeed once again took the crown for the quickest overall average time to reply. Out of all the email tests, 75% of the tests delivered replies within one business day, and three brokers, ShareBuilder, MB Trading, and Lightspeed, failed to respond to a test. Fidelity, Scottrade, and TD Ameritrade were the only brokers to receive a perfect test score. After the dust settled, Scottrade’s email support came out on top once again, with Fidelity and Firstrade finishing second and third, respectively.
As far as live chat goes, experiences were mostly positive. 79% of all tests experienced a connection with a live rep within one minute. Only one broker, Charles Schwab, received a perfect test score. It is important for brokers who offer live chat support to train their staff and offer a similar experience through phone and email. As the use of live chat support continues to rise, it is crucial to deliver consistent, high-quality interactive experiences.
When it comes to personalized service, no one does it better than Scottrade. Scottrade leverages its network of 503 retail locations, redirecting all customer phone calls during weekday office hours directly to its local branch offices. There is something special about the experience of knowing you are one of several million clients, yet when you call, you get the feeling your broker lives right next door. Scottrade is the only online broker to do this, and therefore earns the award again this year for Best Overall Client Experience.
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