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Top E-Tailers Receive Lower Customer Satisfaction Scores

While reports on consumer spending this holiday season were favorable, the recently released U.S. e-retail satisfaction index indicated a 1% decrease compared to the holiday 2009 season. The report, compiled by ForeSee Results, shows that although there was a slight decline in customer satisfaction with online purchases, numbers are still significantly higher than in previous years:

The overall decline can largely be attributed to declining scores for some computer and electronics retailers and mass merchants.

"In a recovering economy, a lot of us assume that declining satisfaction is a result of frustration with prices. Our research shows that is not always the case, and that it varies drastically from company to company," said Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForeSee Results. "Retailers are slashing prices this time of year to attract customers, and not all of them need to be doing that."

The report includes individual satisfaction scores with the 40 top e-retailers for the past six years, allowing for comparisons over time and between companies. Amazon, Netflix, QVC.com, Avon.com, LLBean.com, Newegg.com and Apple.com are rated by customers as the most satisfying retail websites, each scoring 82 or higher. Altogether, a dozen retail websites had superior customer satisfaction scores of 80 or higher. Cabela’s, ranked by Internet Retailers as the 32nd largest online retailer scored 77, down 5 points from its score last year, the first year it made the top 40 list.

The report found that customer satisfaction has a huge and quantifiable impact on the future success of a website. Highly-satisfied visitors to retail websites say they are 60% more committed to the brand overall, 61% more likely to purchase from the retailer online, 35% more likely to purchase from the retailer offline, and 64% more likely to recommend the retailer than are dissatisfied visitors. Nearly 20 years of research coming from both academia and the private sector indicates that increasing customer satisfaction is one of the most powerful things a retailer can do in any channel to increase sales, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

"What else can a retailer do between now and next November to make customers 61% more likely to purchase, or even 10% or 20% more likely?" asked Freed. "There are few investments aside from improving customer satisfaction that would have the same impact on sales, loyalty, and recommendations, and result in such targeted, actionable recommendations at both strategic and tactical levels."

"The holiday shopping season is the time of year that retailers have the most exposure to the broadest spectrum of consumers," said Kevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy at ForeSee Results. "And because customer satisfaction is predictive, this study is a great opportunity for retailers to see how they measure up to the competition and figure out what they need to do to drive sales well into the next year."

The annual Top 40 E-Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results and FGI Research uses the patented methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which was developed at the University of Michigan and is a proven predictor of consumer spending.

A table of the full set of historical scores over time is below, and the full report can be downloaded for free at www.ForeSeeResults.com.