What do you think of e-retailers? Do you like them? Do you prefer them over their brick and mortar counterparts? Apparently the answer is still yes but it is not as resounding a yes as it has been in previous years...
The results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) are in and for the first time in the four years of gathering these percentages, the big e-retailers like Amazon.com, eBay and even Charles Schwab online had significant declines in overall customer satisfaction scores. Granted, they still beat the pants (and socks, shirts, hats, gloves) off their offline retail counterparts but still -- not a good sign for them.
Our economy is heavily dependent on consumers spending increasingly from year to year so the drop in customer satisfaction is quite disturbing. Why? Because it is a herald of negative financial results. Professor Claes Fornell from the University of Michigan has monitored the ACSI and a company's stock price for years and has determined that these two are strongly related. When customer satisfaction with a company drops, you can bet that a decrease in the company's stock will not be far behind and vice versa.
The question is why did customer satisfaction drop at this time? The professor puts forth two suggested reasons. The largest contributor, he says, is the price of gasoline -- which seems odd to me. He has a graph in his report showing a direct and immediate correlation between gas price changes and customer satisfaction - in opposite directions - gas price up, customer satisfaction down. Maybe we just get grumpy when we have to pay more to drive to the malls to shop...
The second reason for the decreasing customer satisfaction makes more sense -- bigger problems with servicing a growing customer population. Because retailers in general launched massive campaigns, heavily discounted items, and hopefully used their well-known BI analytics to target customers better (ahem), they drew in more buyers during this past holiday season. Unfortunately, because of the cost cutting they also did, many of these customers did not receive the attention or level of service they expected. More crowding, slower service, more out of stock situations - all contributed to the lower scores. Nothing makes my day like higher gas prices and surly clerks. How aobut you?
Posted February 21, 2005 3:12 PM
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