E-Commerce Satisfaction Survey: The Good, The Bad, The Crashey

A survey of 20,000 consumers offers good news For Amazon, QVC, Netflix, bad news For Macys, BestBuy, PCMall and SaksFifthAvenue.

The survey, done for years by consulting firm ForeSee Results, takes the top 100 revenue-grosssing Web sites and applied the methodology of the University of Michigan?s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). ACSI scores have a 100-point scale, with the scores closest to 100 being the best.

The latest results show an unusually wide gap between the best- and worst-performing sites, in terms of customer service. The top five sites were: Netflix (85 score, unchanged from a year ago); QVC (85 score, an increase from last year's 82); Amazon (83, unchanged); Barnes & Noble (82, an increase from last year's 78); and DrsFosterSmith (81 ? that site hadn't been looked at the prior year).

The weakest five sites were: NeimanMarcus (a 69, a sharp drop from the 76 it earned last year. That's the largest change?up or down?of any site in the survey); Macys (69, unchanged from last year); Etronics (68, was not examined last year); PCConnection (67, was not examined last year); and PCMall (67, was not examined last year).

ForeSee CEO Larry Freed said he was taken aback by the some of the weaker numbers. "The two lowest scorers trail the two highest scorers by more than 20 percent, a remarkable gap given the relatively mature world of online retail," he said. "It is surprising that any of the top 100 retailers could get away with scores in the 60s and maintain any kind of market dominance for very long."

Some other notable changes includes LLBean (still very high at 79, but a slight drop from the 80 last year), Newegg (78, but a drop from last year's 82), Drugstore (a respectable 76, although slightly lower than last year's 78), Shopping.HP (76, an increase from last year's 74), Target (76, an increase from last year's 73), Williams-Sonoma (75, a drop from last year's 79), Staples (75, a drop from last year's 77), OfficeDepot (74, a drop from last year's 75), CircuitCity (74, an increase from last year's 73), Chadwicks (73, a drop from last year's 78), Nordstrom's (73, a drop from last year's 77), BestBuy (71, a drop from last year's 73) and 1-800-Flowers (71, a healthy drop from last year's 76). SaksFifthAvenue came in at a relatively weak 70.

Although price comparisons are a big part of today's E-Commerce environment, Free said price actually has had?and likely will have?surprisingly little impact on customer satisfaction scores.

"Not surprisingly, satisfaction with price?at 73--was the lowest of any of the drivers of satisfaction that we measured. But improving price would not have a significant impact on satisfaction for 95 percent of the sites we measured," Free said. "Instead, for the Top 100
retailers as a group, improvements to brand and the site experience would be far
more influential on increasing satisfaction and likelihood to purchase. Although price is important to consumers, our research consistently shows that improving satisfaction with price is not the most strategic method of improving overall satisfaction, loyalty and financial performance."

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