Customers are more satisfied than ever with e-commerce, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), and Amazon.com took home the top honors.
The ACSI was released last month by the University of Michigan along with e-commerce partner ForeSee Results. The e-commerce sector for the study contains e-retail, online banking and online travel.
E-commerce satisfaction jumped 2 percent from the previous year, hitting a score of 81.6 on the ACSI's 100-point scale. In addition to reaching an all-time high, the score increase of 1.6 points is reportedly the biggest single-year improvement in the sector since 2003. The e-commerce sector now outperforms all other service industries measured by the ACSI, said ForeSee.
"The improvement in e-commerce is impressive, given the downward trend in the national ACSI," said Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan, in a release.
The national ACSI includes more than 200 companies in more than 40 industries, while the e-commerce sector has been measured by the ACSI every fourth quarter for the last eight years. National customer satisfaction reportedly dropped 0.4 percent, to a score of 74.9, in its second consecutive decline.
Online retail was 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.
"Against a backdrop of weakening consumer spending and talk about recession, e-commerce will continue to be a bright spot for multichannel companies," said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. "Companies have to excel in their online channel — survival in this economy depends on customer satisfaction because switching costs are low and an alternative is just a mouse-click away."
The report also warned of the high expectations that consumers have with the e-tailing sites. "With great success comes great responsibility," cautioned the report. "Improved search, portable checkout (like Google's offering), richer media, mobile devices, Web 2.0 enhancements and social media make the consumer more informed and more powerful. Online shoppers have come to expect remarkable ease, convenience and quality from e-retailers, and they hold every online store to the remarkably high standards set by industry leaders like those measured by the ACSI."
Amazon.com tied its all-time high, up 1 point to 88, leading both the e-retail industry and the e-commerce sectors. It even scored second on the national ACSI — surpassed only by Heinz with an ACSI score of 90.
Two new companies to the list — Newegg and Netflix — followed with scores of 87 and 84, respectively. ForeSee attributed Newegg's high-scoring debut to "its focus on customer service and the fact that it has taken great pains to own the space and own the particular audience of very techno-savvy, educated, do-it-yourselfers."
Likewise, Netflix's positive debut was credited to "name recognition and market share from being the first to successfully implement a unique business model."
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