There are a lot of good reasons for businesses to use internet marketing. It’s inexpensive, scalable, precise, and more. The most recent version of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index gives business owners another reason to use ecommerce solutions. According to the recently published 2014 ACSI, customers are most satisfied when shopping online.
All brick-and-mortar retail categories show weakening or flat customer satisfaction for the final quarter of 2014. Only Internet retail is up from a year ago. The average customer satisfaction score for internet retailers was 82.
A score of 82 may not seem good for ecommerce, but consider the scores of other industries in 2014. Customer satisfaction with department and discount stores stayed flat from last year with an ACSI score of 77. Customer satisfaction with specialty retailers (e.g. Home Depot, Lowe’s, Big Lots, Sam’s, etc.) is down 1.3 percent to an ACSI score of 79. Similar declines were noted in the drug store category as well as the among supermarket chains.
In fact, the increase in customer satisfaction with internet retailers rebounded 5.1 percent from last year, when holiday shipping issues and security concerns hurt public perception of ecommerce. This year, smaller companies and the online business of brick-and-mortar retailers were responsible for much of the improvement see in commerce. These kinds of online retailers saw their score 8 percent from last year. Smaller companies with ecommerce components have a customer satisfaction score of 81 when considered separately.
The data shows that there is a great chance for small businesses to provide a better customer experience than large, online-only retailers. Amazon still has the highest customer satisfaction ranking, with a score of 86, but that still represents a decline from last year. Overstock, with a score of 77 (3 percent lower than last year), and eBay, with a score of 79 (1 percent lower than 2013), both fell below the industry average.
According to the study’s authors, the lagging customer satisfaction with retailers could stifle improvements in the economy.
“Although there are several signs that the economy might finally take off, deteriorating customer satisfaction with retail suggests that consumer demand will not be where it needs to be,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. “This is also reaffirmed by weak sales for most retailers over the holiday season. Unless consumer spending picks up dramatically, we won’t see much – if any – increase in the pace of economic recovery.”
Such concerns about low customer satisfaction being a drag on the economy are probably overstated. Customers choose to do business all the time in situations they aren’t completely satisfied with. This can easily be seen in a recent report on the customer satisfaction with social media networks. Though Facebook has a lower customer satisfaction ranking than other platforms, it certainly has deterred a lot of people from using it. All the same, there is a great benefit to companies who are able to improve customer satisfaction
The ASCI has a lot of information about customer satisfaction trends broken down into various industries and categories. The full report can be downloaded from the ASCI website.
For more information on improving customer satisfaction, read this article on the growing preference among consumers to use social logins on ecommerce sites.