Amazon Takes the Top Spot in Customer Satisfaction Study
The online retailer continues to set the standard, while Apple stumbles.
Posted Jan 2, 2013
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Amazon.com continues to set the standard for customer satisfaction, matching the record high of 88 it set last year, according to the eighth-annual report Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index released by customer experience analytics firm ForeSee.

Amazon.com has had the highest scores in the index for eight years in a row, consistently setting a pace that other retailers don't seem to be able to touch. Its high score is partially because of the appeal and variety of the merchandise it offers.

"At this point, Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, it's hard to imagine anyone else coming close," said Larry Freed, ForeSee's president and CEO, in a statement. "Companies should emulate Amazon's focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenue over the years."

The range of scores among the top 100 retailers spans from Amazon's high of 88 to 72 shared by Gilt.com and Fingerhut.com. The report is based on more than 24,000 customer surveys collected during the prime holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It previously tracked satisfaction with the 40 top retailers, but that was expanded to 100 this year.

Aggregate customer satisfaction stagnated at 78 on the 100-point scale this year. Though satisfaction with top retailers remained the same, a few big-name retailers suffered declines. Apple's online retail store, for example, registered its lowest score in four years, dropping four points to a score of 80, which puts it out of the top five entirely. PC competitor Dell.com also falls four points to 77, below the index average. But the biggest year-over-year decline goes to JCPenney.com, with a six-point decline to 78. 

In addition to Amazon.com, the top e-tailers were LLBean.com, QVC.com, Vitacost.com, and EsteeLauder.com, according to the study. The bottom five e-tailers were CrateandBarrel.com, Nutrisystem.com, Rulala.com, Fingerhut.com, and Gilt.com.

Other key findings include the following:

  • Merchandise is a top priority for two-thirds of retailers: Customer experience analytics can provide retailers with a clear direction on prioritizing improvements that will have the greatest return on investment. While many retailers are focused on price, only seven of the top 100 companies registered price as a high priority for improvement. However, 65 of the measured sites should improve merchandise (the appeal, variety, and availability of products) to increase overall satisfaction, and by extension, sales, loyalty, and customer recommendations.
  • Customer satisfaction matters: Compared to shoppers who report being dissatisfied with a Web site, highly satisfied shoppers say they are 67 percent more likely to consider the company the next time they purchase a similar product. Satisfied shoppers also report being far more likely to return to the site, recommend it, and stay loyal to the brand.
  • On average, a one-point change in Web site satisfaction was found to predict a 14 percent change in revenue generated on the Web.

"This year, we're seeing that even some of the largest companies in the country are at risk if they lose sight of customer satisfaction," Freed said. "Satisfaction with the customer experience, when measured correctly, is the most important predictor of future success, and while Amazon clearly gets it, Apple stumbles from their usual focus on the customer experience. Dell and JC Penney seem to be struggling to find their way, which could make them extremely vulnerable to competitors."

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