Wondering how to improve your company’s e-commerce operations and increase customer loyalty, sales and word of mouth? Just follow the customer satisfaction strategies of Netflix.com, QVC.com and Amazon.com.
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For the fourth year in a row, the online operations from Netflix, QVC and Amazon claimed the top three spots in ForeSee Results’ “Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index” survey report. Netflix scored an 86, QVC an 84 and Amazon an 83; the average for the top 100 was 75. (Scores are determined by measuring Internet shoppers’ overall satisfaction when they visit a retailer’s website, whether they purchase something or not.)
Don’t think online customer satisfaction matters?
“Online satisfaction, when measured scientifically with a proven methodology, is both a key performance metric of current success and a predictive indicator of future sales, loyalty and word of mouth recommendation,” writes Larry Freed, the CEO of ForeSee Results, in the survey report. “Especially in a tough economy, retailers that satisfy online shoppers have a competitive advantage.” (For more, see “Retailers Are Winning by Focusing on Customer-Centric Systems — Not Whining About the Economy.”)
The Best of the Best Online Retailers
ForeSee Results’ 2008 survey data finds that these seven online businesses satisfy online shoppers the best.
According to ForeSee Results data, highly satisfied online shoppers are 69 percent more likely to purchase from the same retailer the next time they’re looking to buy similar merchandise, 75 percent more likely to purchase online, 42 percent more likely to purchase offline, and 75 percent more likely to recommend the retailer than shoppers who have a low level of satisfaction with the retailer.
In addition, ForeSee Results’ data shows that a single point increase in customer satisfaction would lead to an average online sales increase of $112 million for the top 100 online retailers that have been measured during the past two years. (To read why companies aren’t meeting shoppers’ customer service expectations, see “Your Customer Service Stinks.”)
What Online Retailers Can Do
At a high level, Freed writes, e-retailers should focus on “online branding and site experience in order to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and purchase intent.” (See “How Wal-Mart Lost Its Technology Edge” for an inside look at how Walmart.com is faring.)
In more detail, Freed offers these four key elements and some of the notable trends and priorities gleaned from the 2008 data:
Brand: How well does the website communicate the unique brand attributes, consistency with brand images from other channels and positive feelings about the brand? “The top priority item for e-retailers in the aggregate is brand,” Freed writes, “meaning there is work to be done to align the way the brand is communicated online with the way it is communicated in other channels.”
Site Experience: What is the quality of the website’s organization, navigation, product information, special features and tools? “Site experience follows very closely behind [brand] as a priority,” Freed contends, “indicating need for improvement.”
Merchandise: What is the variety, desirability and availability of the website’s merchandise? Overall, he writes, “shoppers seem to be happy with the availability and variety of merchandise online.”
Price: What is the customers’ perceived suitability and competitiveness of the products’ prices? According to ForeSee Results research, “while consumers will almost always say they want a better price,” Freed notes, “lowering prices wouldn’t make people much more loyal or likely to buy.”
Freed suggests that one way e-retailers can identify the improvements that will have the greatest impact on the bottom line is to use customer satisfaction analytics to hone in on specific problem areas, such as search, navigation or product descriptions, and then “apply usability audits or usability reviews to prescribe specific improvements for greater cost-efficiency and effectiveness.”
As to the online satisfaction leaders, Netflix.com, QVC.com and Amazon.com are the “titans of online customer satisfaction” and are “standard-setters across all industries,” Freed writes. “The superior online experience they provide colors customers’ expectations when they interact online with anyone else, whether it’s their bank, their investment firm, a social networking site or the Post Office.”