The best takeaway from a recent Foresee satisfaction index is that in order to keep your customers satisfied, you need to consistently meet their expectations, said Debra Ellis, founder of Wilson & Ellis Consulting.
Ellis said a perfect example of how failing to meet customer expectations could affect customer satisfaction would be Netflix. The streaming and home delivery DVD company came under fire by consumers last year when they announced it was increasing their monthly fees. Angry customers became vocal about the move and began threatening to cancel their accounts. Netflix soon reneged on their price hike.
“The mismanagement of the notification followed by poor responses to complaints led to a mass exodus of customers, a public relations nightmare, and a drop of four points on the satisfaction index,” Ellis wrote.
For the past eight years, ForeSee has conducted the E-Retail Satisfaction Index of the top 100 online U.S. retailers, and rated them on a scale of 0 to 100. Any site that earns a score of 80 or above takes the “threshold of excellence” honor. Although Netflix was among the 36 companies hitting the threshold mark this year, it dropped from an 85 to an 81.
Only 28 sites earned the threshold of excellence title in 2011 and 2010, a massive jump from 2009 when only six sites hit the 80 mark. The study found that the higher satisfaction of a site leads to an improved customer loyalty. It also could increase the likelihood that a consumer will make additional purchases in the future.
“Improving customer satisfaction is a process that requires time and planning. Systematically improving offerings and service leads to better results,” Ellis said.
Ellis said the reason why companies like Amazon, Apple and L.L. Bean are scoring big on customer satisfaction is because they are “focused on creating the best experience for their customers.”
Since its own refocus, Ellis said, Home Depot has seen a major jump in customer satisfaction. Although they were just 1 point shy of hitting the threshold, “they revamped stores, implemented a marketing makeover, entered new channels, and improved customer service.”
Ellis also noted that when thinking of ways to make your customer’s happy doesn’t necessarily mean giving them the cheapest deals. “Companies seeking improvement in customer satisfaction would be wise to follow the leaders in creating unique shopping experiences that match customer expectations,” Ellis said.
But Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why some companies scored so high on the index while others did not. In other words, it’s similar to comparing apples to oranges.
The problem with the Foresee methodology, he said, was that is looked to the satisfaction of consumers from the top 100 online retailers only. In order to be more accurate, the results would have been more respected if the scores of companies who sell the same products were compared to each other instead of a general comparison.