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Retailers, beware! Research shows Christmas customer satisfaction slowing

21st Dec 2012
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Customer satisfaction ratings may be increasing year-on-year but with only a one point rise from the previous year’s ratings, performance is just “not good enough.”

That’s according to ForeSee’s annual Online Retail Satisfaction Index: UK Christmas Edition which measures customer satisfaction, as well as ranking the best and worst online retailers for customer service.

The index revealed a slight increase of one point from Christmas 2011 to Christmas 2012: from 73 to 74 on the study’s 100-point scale.

Highly satisfied shoppers were found to be 62% more likely than a dissatisfied shopper to buy from that retailer online in the future whilst 58% more likely to buy from the retailer the next time they need similar merchandise, as well as being far more likely to return to the site, recommend it, and show commitment to the brand.

In terms of satisfaction with individual retailers, increased its customer satisfaction rating this year to retain its top spot on the leader board with 86 points – fending off its US counterpart which scored 84 points.

John Lewis took third place with 80 points followed by (79), Apple (77), and ASDA Direct (77), the figures showed.

Unsurprisingly, Ryan Air recorded the only decline of three points or more (down three points to 61), making it the lowest-scoring company in the index by a wide margin – the next lowest scoring was Netflix with 68 points.

Larry Freed, CEO at ForeSee, said: “Christmas has always been a critical time of the year for retailers, but the growth in online shopping this year now means that retail websites are more essential than ever. For these sites to be effective and competitive, a laser-like focus on the customer experience is paramount. UK retailers are clearly providing customers with positive online experiences in general, or customers would not be moving so decisively to online shopping. However, our findings suggest that efforts to improve the customer experience are sluggish and could be significantly improved.

“Overall customer satisfaction has increased every year we’ve reported on the top 40 UK retailers at Christmas time, but the last four years have seen increases of just one point per year on aggregate. It’s just not good enough. Any retailer registering an average or lower score is risking loyalty, recommendations, sales, and market share. By this measure, 29 of these leading UK retailers are underperforming. Whilst falling below average is definitely dangerous, it is hard to imagine that a consistently average performance is safe either, especially in an extremely competitive economy.

“There is a powerful and quantifiable relationship between a positive customer experience online and increased loyalty, sales, and recommendations—online retailers would do well to sit up and pay attention to this research methodology. By understanding customers’ needs and expectations, they will be able to survive and thrive in 2013 and beyond”.

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