January 5, 2005, 12:00 AM

Top web sites show customers respect, study indicates

High-grossing web sites beat the competition by showing customers more respect, according to a study by the Customer Respect Group. The company rates 2,000 corporate web sites, with Amazon.com scoring highest in the fourth quarter.

 

High-grossing web sites beat the competition by showing customers more respect, according to a study by the Customer Respect Group, a Bellevue, WA-based research and consulting firm. The company assigns Customer Respect Index ratings to 2,000 corporate web sites.

“It is interesting to see the growing correlation between the top performers in the CRI to the top revenue performers,” says Terry Golesworthy, Customer Respect Group president. “Customers buy from web sites that they trust and where they believe their dollars and--just as key--their personal information, is safest. Some of the retailers at the bottom end of the list will have lost revenue in the millions of dollars because customers left their sites due to the lack of customer respect.”

In the fourth quarter of 2004, Amazon.com scored highest among the sites, all of them rated quantitatively and qualitatively by the Customer Respect Group for simplicity (ease of navigation), responsiveness (quick and helpful responses to inquiries), privacy (respect for customers’ privacy), attitude (focusing on customers), transparency (open and honest policies) and principles (respecting customer data). Those factors are incorporated into a Customer Respect Index.

Responsiveness needs improvement, according to the Customer Respect Group. 15% of surveyed firms did not reply to inquiries submitted by researchers, while 14% provided incomplete responses. Of the responses that were received, 70% came within one day, the standard expected by online customers. Overall, about 40% of inquiries brought timely responses.

Transparency of the sites impressed the researchers, who say 22 companies scored high-at least 9.0-in the category. For the first time, every retailer surveyed had posted a privacy policy on its site.

A quarter of the companies surveyed had clear “opt-in” policies. Almost half of the companies planned to share personal data without permission. The fourth quarter CRI rankings follow.

Specialty Retailers
1 Amazon.Com, 8.0
2 Ann Taylor Stores, 7.9
3 Foot Locker, 7.9
4 Pottery Barn, 7.9
5 Lowe`s Companies, 7.8
6 Guitar Center, 7.7
7 Tiffany, 7.7
8 Zales, 7.7
9 Circuit City, 7.6
10 Linens `n Things, 7.6
11 Petco Animal Supplies, 7.6
12 Staples, 7.4
13 The Gap, 7.4
14 The Neiman Marcus Group, 7.4
15 Barnes & Noble, 7.3
16 Pier 1 Imports, 7.3
17 Trans World Entertainment, 7.3
18 Best Buy, 7.2
19 Dick`s Sporting Goods, 7.1
20 Brown Shoe Company, 7.0
21 The Home Depot, 7.0
22 Bed Bath & Beyond, 6.8
23 Costco, 6.8
24 PETsMART, 6.6
25 Electronics Boutique, 6.5
26 Michaels Stores, 6.5
27 PC Connection, 6.5
28 Office Depot, 6.3
29 Jo Ann Stores, 6.2
30 Victoria`s Secret, 6.2
31 AutoZone, 6.0
32 RadioShack, 6.0
33 Systemax, 5.8
34 BJ`s Wholesale Club, 5.7
35 Hollywood Entertainment, 5.6
36 American Eagle Outfitters, 5.5
37 Abercrombie & Fitch, 5.4
38 The TJX Companies, 5.0
39 Payless ShoeSource, 4.7
Sector average 6.8

General Merchandisers
1 Sears Roebuck, 7.8
2 Wal-Mart Stores, 7.6
3 Kohl`s, 7.5
4 Kmart, 7.3
5 J.C. Penney, 7.2
6 Saks, 7.1
7 Target, 7.0
8 Dillard`s, 6.9
9 Belk, 6.5
10 Nordstrom, 6.5
11 Macy`s, 5.5
12 May Department Stores, 4.5
Sector average 6.8

Food & Drug Stores
1 Kroger, 6.9
2 Walgreen, 6.8
3 Albertson`s, 6.7
4 CVS, 6.6
5 Whole Foods Market, 5.7
6 Rite Aid, 5.2
7 Safeway, 4.6
Sector average 6.1

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