StellaService, Backed By Big NY Investors, Looks to Recognize E-Tailers For Star Customer Service with Zagat-Style Marks

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50, including Zappos.com, Diapers.com, and 1-800 Flowers.com. The company also tested the impact of the mark had on consumers who visited the sites displaying them, and found that the seal “did tell a story that influenced buyer behavior,” Leiser says.

“For a company that had spent zero dollars on marketing, our brand was actually influencing behavior,” he says.

Leiser says there’s a host of ways StellaService could bring in cash—from affiliate marketing, selling the customer service data, and allowing highly rated businesses to use the seal in display advertising—but for now he’s focused on doing “everything we can to makes sure that what we’re doing is the perfect solution,” he says.

Last summer StellaService raised $1.75 million in venture funding (announced last month) on top of its angel round. The round was led by New York-based DFJ Gotham Ventures, and Battery Ventures, a firm with offices in Boston, Silicon Valley, and Israel, and the only non New York-firm in the bunch. The deal also included angel investors, RRE Ventures, and Consigliere Brand Capital, a firm founded by two-time NBA MVP player Steve Nash and Michael Duda, of the ad agency Deutsch.

“If I had to do it all over again I would do it in New York City,” Leiser says of starting the company in the Big Apple, pointing to the city’s wealth of big brands and commerce and media-focused startups.

StellaService, now a seven-person team (not counting the steroided secret shoppers), updated its website last week, with added features for both shoppers and businesses. Consumers can submit anecdotes on great customer service experiences they’ve had online (something StellaService found that visitors were doing even without the site’s prompting, Leiser says), and StellaService will display it on the company’s profile on its site. Because the StellaService is focused on its consistent, objective, methodology for testing sites, these reviews won’t actually influence StellaService ratings for a merchant, though.

Businesses that have scored high on the StellaService system can request code to update their websites with the seal. And those who haven’t been rated yet can nominate themselves to go through the rating process and attract the support of customers who want them to get tested. (There are roughly 70 companies on the wait list at this point.)

StellaService has also been inking partnerships with comparison-shopping sites, like TheFind.com “The whole rationale for ecommerce today is that prices are converging,” says Leiser. “The only thing now that companies can really use to differentiate is service.”

The Stella mark could help customers decide which site to buy their next camera from, when retailers’ prices for the products are all within a few dollars of each other, he says. “That’s what I think a lot of the comparison shopping sites need now. Is it worth it going to a site knowing StellaService has been to it?”

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