Web Retailers See Dip in Customer Satisfaction

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) –  Online retailers may be enjoying a profitable year, but it has come at a price.

According to an annual survey by research firm ForeSee Results, customer satisfaction with the top 40 online retailers fell by 1% from 2009.

The retailers averaged 78 overall on the research firm’s hundred-point scale. The decline can largely be attributed to lower scores for some computer and electronics retailers and mass merchants.

Amazon and Netflix topped the index’s list as the online retailers with the best customer service, both scoring 86. Amazon, which took the top spot for the third year in a row, saw its score drop a point from the 87 it received in 2009. Netflix’s score remained the same.

QVC (84), Avon (83), L.L. Bean (83), Newegg (82) and Apple (82) followed.

The online retailers exhibiting notable drops in satisfaction include the electronics site TigerDirect.com, whose seven-point decline from 2009 net 73, the lowest score of the index. Outdoor outfitter Cabela’s saw its score fall five points to 77 and department store Macy’s experienced a four-point drop to 75.  

According to ForeSee, retailers should be paying attention their customer service as opposed to simply slashing prices  since the research reflects a link between customer satisfaction and future success. The happier people are with the service they receive, the more likely they are to return … and spend more money. Highly-satisfied visitors to retail websites said they are 60% more committed to a brand overall, while 61% were more likely to purchase from the retailer online.  

“There are few investments, aside from improving customer satisfaction, that would have the same impact on sales, loyalty and recommendations,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, in a press release.  

ForeSee’s E-retail Customer Satisfaction Index utilizes the same scoring system as the American Customer Satisfaction Index, putting customer interviews into a model that weighs customer expectations, perceived quality, perceived value, commonly made complaints and overall loyalty.  

In ForeSee’s index, nearly 10,000 survey responses were collected from Nov. 29 to Dec. 15 from shoppers who had visited the top 40 retail websites within the prior 14 days.

Check the ForeSee website for a complete history of the scores since it was first tracked in 2005.

The survey also elicited some interesting findings about the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns. Despite the fact retailers are pouring more resources into their social media campaigns, about only 5% of online holiday shoppers reported being influenced to vis¬it a top retailer’s site after checking out Facebook or FourSquare. Only 8% arrived at a retailer’s website after viewing search engine results. But in contrast, 19% visited the retailer’s website after reading a promotional e-mail.

We’re guessing this means you can expect your inbox to be flooded with messages from retailers as the holiday season wraps up.

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