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 completed. Phone support was weighed heaviest, comprising more than 50% of the overall score, with email and live chat following thereafter. If a broker did not offer live chat, then providing quality phone and email support became that much more important.
Fidelity, despite its size with millions of clients, took the No. 1 spot. Not only did the broker have the best email support, but it also won us over with its live chat support, and its phone support was second only to Merrill Edge. The consistency and ability of support reps to, time and time again, deliver an A or A+ experience was truly impressive.
Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 .
Options: $7.95 + $0.75 per contract
Options: $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
Focusing first on phone support, most brokers were on top of their game, as 80% of all phone tests were connected to a rep within one minute. The broker with the longest single hold time was OptionsHouse: nine minutes. Out of all the phone tests we conducted, only one had a perfect score, and it was with newcomer Merrill Edge. Merrill Edge blew us away with its phone service, beating out Fidelity for the No. 1 spot. Once the discussions started, it was apparent which brokers had gone the extra mile with training and which had not.
Next, focusing on email, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity tied for the quickest overall time (on average) to reply, averaging just more than an hour each. Out of all the email tests, 65% of the tests delivered replies within one business day, and only one broker failed to respond to a test, MB Trading. Only one broker, Fidelity, managed to receive a perfect test score. In the end, Fidelity’s email support came out on top, with TradeKing and Merrill Edge finishing second and third, respectively.
As far as live chat goes, experiences were mostly positive. 78% of all tests saw a connection with a live rep within one minute. Four brokers — Charles Schwab, ShareBuilder, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity — received one perfect test score (Charles Schwab had two). It is important for brokers that offer live chat support to train their staff and offer a similar experience through phone and email. Especially as live chat support use continues to rise, delivering consistent, high quality experiences is crucial.
When it comes to the personalized service, no one does it better than Scottrade. Scottrade leverages its network of 503 retail locations, redirecting all customer phone calls during week-day 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 calling and feeling like your broker lives right next door. Scottrade is the only online broker to do this, earning it the award again this year of Best Overall Client Experience.