The importance of delivering exceptional customer experiences during a down economy is essential to fostering customer satisfaction--a critical measure for success. But according to the 2011 fourth quarter customer satisfaction report released yesterday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, there were only mild improvements in customer satisfaction with a yearly gain of .07 percent, and some not-so-surprising winners and losers.The losers
It's no surprise, for example that Netflix's customer satisfaction took a nosedive for 2011, crashing down 14 percent to 74, one of the biggest year-on-year losses in ACSI history. Netflix customers left in droves last fall, following price hikes and a controversial plan to move DVD-by-mail customers to a separate service.
CVS Caremark fell to a seven-year low of 73 (-1 percent) in the face of cost-cutting measures.
With a 4 percent satisfaction hit, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is now alone in last place at 70--six points below the industry average and the next-lowest chain (Sears at 76).
Barnes & Noble, the sole traditional bookstore chain left standing after Borders' closing, takes an unwelcome hit in customer satisfaction--down 4 percent to 79.
Expedia lost 3 percent and the industry lead at 77 in the online travel category.
The star among all retailers--traditional or online--is Amazon. Amazon took the biggest customer satisfaction lead with its score of 86, followed by Newegg at 85 (+1 percent).
In the flat discount and department store industry, Nordstrom shows that quality still counts with a leading score of 84 (+2 percent). J.C. Penney improved 2 percent to 82, capturing second place and moving just ahead of Kohl's.
Four years of steady gains brought Home Depot to an all-time ACSI high of 78 (+4 percent).
Travelocity rose to the top of its category with a 3 percent gain to 79 that places it in a tie with the aggregate of all smaller travel sites.
And in the supermarket category, Publix remains the top grocer, continuing its customer satisfaction reign unchallenged at a high score of 84.
With satisfaction with e-commerce Web sites up 1 percent overall to 80.1 and beating brick-and-mortar retailers, companies show that they're investing in e-commerce. The shift may put pressure on bricks-and-mortars in the coming year as online service takes the spotlight.