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12/30/2008
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Amazon, Netflix Rated Highest In Holiday Customer Satisfaction

Home Shopping Network and the Gap suffered the steepest declines in the annual ForeSee online retailer customer satisfaction survey.

Amazon.com and Netflix got the highest ratings among online retailers for customer satisfaction during the holiday shopping season, while the Home Shopping Network and the Gap suffered the steepest declines, a study released Tuesday showed.

Amazon and Netflix each scored 84 in ForeSee Results' annual report, which is based on the methodology established in the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index. A score above 80 in the 100-point ACSI scale is considered excellent.

On the other end of the spectrum, six retailers' online operations scored 69, which is considered the point at which poor customer experience can erode loyalty. Those retailers were Circuit City, which filed for bankruptcy protection this year; the Gap; HSN; Overstock.com; Home Depot; and Neiman Marcus. With the exception of Home Depot, each retailer scored lower than in 2007.

The retailers that suffered the biggest declines in customer satisfaction during the holiday season were HSN and the Gap, which fell 9% and 7%, respectively. Overall, 40% of the 40 measured sites saw a year-over-year satisfaction decline.

Only 10 sites improved customer satisfaction from last year, with the biggest gains coming from Wal-Mart, 5% to 78; Hewlett-Packard, 7% to 76; Staples, 6% to 77; and Target, 4% to 75.

As a group, the 40 retailers scored a 74, which was the same as last year. In general, the ratings are significant as indicators of customer loyalty. The study found that a highly satisfied online shopper is 73% more likely to buy online, 38% more likely to purchase offline, and 75% more likely to recommend a site than a dissatisfied shopper.

"In a recession, knowing that improving customer satisfaction with your Web site can engender that kind of loyalty and purchase intent is like money in the bank," Larry Freed, president and chief executive of ForeSee, said in a statement. ForeSee is in the business of measuring clients' Web sites for customer satisfaction.

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