Thursday, February 21, 2008

E-Commerce Satisfaction Soars in American Customer Satisfaction Index

Customer satisfaction with the e-commerce sector hits an all-time high, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), released by the University of Michigan with e-commerce partner ForeSee Results. E-commerce in aggregate rises to a score of 81.6 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale, a significant 2 percent jump from 2006. The e-commerce sector now outperforms all other service industries measured by ACSI.

The ACSI E-Commerce Report, which is a part of the ACSI’s fourth quarter report, measures customer satisfaction with online retail, online brokerage and online travel companies.

Online Retail: Amazon Ranks Second of 200+ Companies Measured

Online retail is the highest scoring industry in the fourth quarter, scoring 83 for a second consecutive year and surpassing the offline retail sector (74.2) by 12 percent. All of the measured companies in the e-retail industry are among the top 10 highest-scoring companies in all of ACSI.

E-retail stalwart ties its all-time high, up 1 point to 88, leading both the e-retail industry and the e-commerce sectors. The silver and bronze for online retail go to two new companies to the Index: Newegg debuts at 87 and Netflix at 84.

mazon has the second-highest score in the ACSI (trailing only Heinz) and surpasses other customer-pleasing companies such as Apple and Southwest Airlines. The company’s dedication to the customer experience is paying off in terms of customer satisfaction, as evidenced by its biggest fourth quarter revenues ever.

ACSI merged the auction category with online retail to reflect the increasing overlap and competition between the two. EBay moves up a point to 81, but it has been fairly stagnant over the last few years, failing to come up with the true business innovations that have catapulted Amazon up 5 percent since 2004.

Online Travel: Satisfaction Continues to Deteriorate

The online travel industry falls for a second straight year, dropping 1.3 percent to 75. The three major online travel sites all suffered drops in satisfaction. Expedia remains the highest-scoring company, but its score plummets 3.8 percent to 75. Travelocity and Orbitz both drop to 73, as the three companies continue to have difficulty differentiating their services.

Priceline employs a different model for its service and improves 1.4 percent to 73. But even the improvements in the "all others" category (+3.9 percent to 79) could not prevent the aggregate score from falling. The "all others" category includes airlines, hotels, and other travel search engines like Travel suppliers like airlines and hotels are putting pressure on the three major travel sites. Airlines are now offering hotel and car rental options in addition to lowest-price guarantees and loyalty and rewards programs, and hotels encourage customers to book directly on their sites.

Online Brokerage: Fidelity Overtakes CharlesSchwab

After a big surge last year, customer satisfaction with online financial services continues to climb. Online brokerage is up for a third consecutive year (+1.3 percent to 79). Fidelity is the biggest gainer, increasing 5 percent to 84, setting a new high for the industry. CharlesSchwab (+2.5 percent to 82) and TD Ameritrade (+3.9 percent to 80) also improved, while E*TRADE’s score is down 1.3 percent to 73.

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