Jan. 7th, 2014 - ForeSee today released the ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2013 U.S. Retail Edition. Based on data gathered during 2013’s holiday shopping season, the report features company-level and channel-specific customer satisfaction analysis for the top 100 U.S. retailers.

The new FXI Retail report offers a comprehensive view of satisfaction at the company-level and across every applicable sales channel including store and contact center as well as web and mobile. The study is based on more than 67,600 surveys collected between Nov. 29 and Dec. 17, 2013, for the 100 biggest U.S. retailers as reported by the Fortune 500 and Internet Retailer’s top 100 websites. Retailers listed in this report include Amazon, Dell, L.L.Bean, Apple, QVC, Keurig, Costco, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Barnes & Noble, eBay, Groupon, Family Dollar, Best Buy, Toys “R” Us, Zulily and others.

“The results of ForeSee’s most comprehensive holiday report provide interesting insights into the holiday shopping experience,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “The data shows that customer loyalty for retailers is on the decline, yet consumers are satisfied with the top retail brands and had the best experience with retailers who mastered the multichannel experience. While Amazon continues to reign supreme across multiple channels, several retailers have identified critical drivers for increased sales and have made great strides to improve the multichannel customer experience, setting themselves up for success into 2014.”

Below are some of the report's key findings.

Company-level: retailers that satisfied the most (and least) during 2013’s holiday shopping season:

o   Amazon (90) and L.L.Bean (90) tied for the highest company-level satisfaction. While this is the first time ForeSee has studied Ccmpany-level satisfaction during the holidays, the L.L.Bean website has scored an 80 or above in web satisfaction eight out of the nine years measured, and Amazon has topped the web satisfaction list every year. Amazon and L.L.Bean set the bar for customer experience excellence.

o   Priceline.com came in with the lowest Company-level satisfaction (76), as well as one of the lowest Web satisfaction (75) and Mobile satisfaction (73) scores.

Store channel: Apple, which prides itself on stellar Apple Store customer experiences, lost to the supermarket chain Publix Super Markets in store satisfaction with a score of 86 – three points higher than Apple’s score of 83.

o   53 percent of retailers register merchandise as the main priority affecting in-store purchase, and 35 percent register service.

Web channel: While Amazon (88) led the pack for web satisfaction, some retail sites such as vitacost.com (86), keurig.com (84) and llbean.com (84) are creeping closer. Basspro.com (83) and crateandbarrel.com (80) tied for the most improved sites with seven-point gains in customer satisfaction from last year.

o   57 percent of retailers identify merchandise as the top driver affecting customer web experience, compared to only 7 percent that register price.

Mobile channel: In a category that saw satisfaction stagnate this year, Walmart (80) was the only company to experience a significant increase of more than three points in Mobile satisfaction, seeing a five-point improvement from 2012’s score. Again, Amazon led the pack with a Mobile satisfaction score of 87.

o   38 percent of retailers register functionality as the top priority affecting the mobile customer experience, above both merchandise (34 percent) and content (31 percent).

Contact center channel: QVC (88) beat Amazon (85) in contact center satisfaction by three points. Costco (85) and O’Reilly Auto Parts (85) tied Amazon in contact center satisfaction.

o   55 percent of retailers record knowledge of the customer service representative as the top priority affecting the customer contact center experience.

Holiday Satisfaction Trends:

Customers’ loyalty wanes: 12 percent of customers surveyed said they only considered one company when making a purchase.

o   Almost half (49 percent) of people reported that the company they visited was one of several companies they considered equally when shopping.

Multichannel retailers satisfy shoppers: The most satisfied shoppers this holiday season were the ones that interacted with a retailer across multiple channels.

o   The majority of customers (57 percent) were single-channel users with a satisfaction score of 82, and the remaining 43 percent who used two or more channels to engage with the company recorded a satisfaction score of 85.

Customer satisfaction during 2013’s holiday shopping season is predictive of 2014 business success for retailers: When comparing the future behaviors of highly satisfied customers (with satisfaction scores of 80 or higher) to less satisfied customers (with satisfaction scores of 69 or less), ForeSee found that highly satisfied customers this holiday shopping season report being:

o   71 percent more likely to prefer the company to others

o   57 percent more likely to retain loyalty to the company

o   72 percent more likely to purchase additional products or services from the company

o   64 percent more likely to purchase next time they are in the market to buy similar products or services

o   63 percent more likely to give a positive recommendation

o   60 percent more likely to trust the company

Analysis of Findings – Opportunities and Risks:

Customers view their experience with a company as an experience with a company, not as an experience with an individual channel. While most retailers still operate in silos, those retailers who have developed a cohesive multichannel strategy to encourage shoppers to engage across channels have a prime opportunity in 2014 for future success.

Store customer service is crucial to retailers’ bottom lines. Online commerce is growing nearly five times faster than retail overall, but accounts for roughly 14 percent of retail sales during November and December (source: Comscore). Since customer service is one of the primary drivers of in-store satisfaction, retailers that provide the best in-store service will reap the rewards.

Web and mobile stagnation presents risks for retailers. In a fiercely competitive holiday retail environment where 12 percent of customers only considered one retailer when making a purchase, retailers cannot afford to let their Web and Mobile satisfaction stagnate. Retailers looking to gain an edge in customer loyalty must make improvements to the primary drivers of satisfaction to find ways to recover the Web and Mobile customer experience in 2014.

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