Not Quite There

Dissatisfaction leads to competition for online retailers, according to new study

Dissatisfaction leads to competition for online retailers, according to new study

Ann Arbor, MI — August 18, 2003 — When e-retailers shop online themselves, they find the experience barely warrants a passing grade, according to a new study out from ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction firm.

The report suggests that e-retailing will continue to get more competitive as insiders exhibit high expectations for improvement.

The second annual survey and analysis of industry insiders' satisfaction suggests some of the things Web developers seem to worry about the most do not really impact satisfaction, and there are other things that need attention.

Insiders rate themselves dramatically lower than their customers do, according to the report. This year's low passing score of 63 (on a scale of 0 to 100) is up from last year's failing grade of 58. The survey and analysis were conducted using the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) technology, which allows comparisons to the University of Michigan's ACSI reports on customer satisfaction among American consumers.

"This is a snapshot of the mindset of people who really know what the Web can and should be," said Larry Freed, Web effectiveness expert and ForeSee Results CEO. "Investors and customers should be happy that these insiders are so hard on themselves. It means they're not taking their success for granted, and aren't just sitting back and enjoying their accomplishments. As long as insiders remain dissatisfied with their performance, they will work hard to make things better and better."

The ACSI methodology is capable of calculating what things have the most impact on overall satisfaction, and in this year's survey image and account setup emerged as the elements of the Web experience that would make the biggest difference to Web site users. "Image" encompasses such things as whether sites demonstrate customer value, trust and overall brand.

At the same time, according to ForeSee, the insiders are not highly impacted by some things that tend to get a lot of attention from users. Content, look, feel and product information all ranked as the lowest priorities for insiders and have the least impact on improving overall satisfaction.

"The insiders seem to be saying 'enough already' with such things as constantly tinkering with the look and feel of a site," said Freed. "It's gotten to the point where content, product information and site performance are all pretty good, and to insiders, at least, putting time or effort into these things is not what's going to make a difference in the end."

Privacy, another issue that gets lots of attention, is rated poorly by the insiders but has little impact on their satisfaction, attitudes that mirror those of general consumers, according to ForeSee Results' research.

ÒThe insiders, like the consumers, put a lot of emphasis on image," said Freed. "The way we measure image, it includes trust and how valued consumers feel. To a degree, they are saying we don't expect unimpeachable privacy, but you better be trustworthy or we won't continue our relationship with you."

Ordering, browsing and general functionality are good, but they could be better, according to the report.

And while Web insiders know they should be doing a better job, the report shows they don't have the information they need to do so. For example, a side question in the study asked respondents to evaluate various widely-used Web metrics. Ninety-one percent said customer satisfaction was highly important to them, however, only 25 percent were highly satisfied with their current Web analytics ability to gauge customer satisfaction and a full 44 percent gave their current analytics a failing grade.