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. Here at StockBrokers.com, we are proud of the fact that our testing is respected as the most rigorous in the industry.

In our assessment, phone support was weighed the heaviest, and comprised well 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.

To ensure the highest quality testing data, we partner with professional private shopping group Confero to handle all phone tests. With clients like Coca Cola and Shell, Confero understands how to read between the lines and identify truly superior customer service.

To ensure the highest quality testing data, we partner with professional private shopping group Confero to handle all phone tests. With clients like Coca Cola and Shell, Confero understands how to read between the lines and identify truly superior customer service. Using our StockBrokers.com industry-specific templates, Confero made 160 phone calls to branch offices and support numbers across the United States. For more information, see How We Test.

This year, TD Ameritrade was able to beat out Merrill Edge for the No. 1 spot overall, taking first in phone and third in both email and live chat. Merrill Edge has been an extremely consistent performer, finishing second in 2017, first in 2016, and second again in both 2015 and 2014. Fidelity placed first for email, with ETRADE ranking first for live chat. The consistency and ability of TD Ameritrade’s support reps to deliver an A or A+ experience time and again is truly impressive.

Focusing first on phone support, most brokers were on top of their game, as 56% of all phone tests were connected to a rep within one minute. Only four brokers had a single hold time beyond five minutes: Capital One Investing, ETRADE, Fidelity, Scottrade. Of all 160 phone tests, only six (3.8%) received a perfect score, coming from brokers Merrill Edge, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and Scottrade. In the end, TD Ameritrade came out on top, followed by Merrill Edge and Scottrade.

In the email department, Fidelity took the crown for the quickest response times with every test receiving a reply in only 36 minutes, on average. Out of all the email tests, 73% of the tests delivered replies within one business day, and six brokers failed to respond to a test. Three different brokers received one perfect test score; Fidelity received four. After the dust settled, Fidelity’s email support once again came out on top, with Firstrade and TD Ameritrade finishing second and third, respectively.

As far as live chat goes, experiences were mostly positive. 91% of all tests were connected with a live rep within one minute. Comparing this year to last year, there were five brokers who received at least one perfect score. Last year seven brokers achieved the same feat. All in all, scores across the industry, on average, fell into the category of “good” which is nice to see. With the number of live chat support sessions on the rise and given the communication preferences of younger generations, we were pleased to see brokers delivering 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.