Report: Online customer satisfaction declines

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Customer satisfaction with many of the largest online retailers fell 3% since last year, according to the annual Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results and FGI Research.

 

The research, which employs the methodology of the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), is based on surveys of more than 22,000 visitors to the top 100 e-retail Web sites by sales volume, as reported in the 2009 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

This year's aggregate score of 73 indicates online retailers may be dropping the ball.

“Revenue will tell you a lot about past performance, and by that measure, things don't look great,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, in a statement. “But customer satisfaction will tell us a lot about what's ahead, and more companies are losing ground. That's a real canary in a coal mine for future sales online and offline, loyalty, retention and return visits.”

Satisfied online shoppers are more likely to purchase online than dissatisfied ones, more likely to recommend a Web site  and more likely to make a purchase from the brand offline.

This year's survey also found that consumers are more price-sensitive than in previous years, when price has had a relatively low impact on overall satisfaction.

“Online shoppers are a savvy group, able to compare price and merchandise at the click of a mouse,” said Freed in a statement. “In an economy where rising unemployment, plummeting home values and tight credit continue to make headlines, consumers are punishing retailers if they feel prices aren't fair or competitive.”

Netflix, with a score of 85, and Amazon, with a score of 84, lead all e-retailers for the fifth year in a row.

The online retailers posting the biggest improvements in customer satisfaction include Kohls.com, with a 6% gain for a total score of 76, and Costco, with a 3% gain for a total score of 74.

However, scores for more than half of the top 100 e-retailers declined. Apple.com slid nearly 6% for a total of 75, and now trails Dell.com and HPShopping.com.

CVS.com's score declined 8% for a total of 71, putting it behind Walgreens and Drugstore.com. NeimanMarcus.com's score lost 7% for a total of 70 and Williams-Sonoma.com and Talbots.com each lost 6.4% for a total of 73.

Other losers include ToysRUs.com, Macys.com, Sears.com, Overstock.com, Abercrombie.com, 1800Flowers.com, JCrew.com, RestorationHardware.com and EddieBauer.com.

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