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March 25, 2014

Press Release ACSI Website Satisfaction Index 2014

ACSI Launches New Website Satisfaction Index

American Customer Satisfaction Index for Websites in 33 Industries:
Financial Services and Shipping Lead; Social Media Lags

ANN ARBOR, Mich., (March 25, 2014) – A new measure from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) rates user website experience across 33 different consumer industries, offering a first-of-its-kind index of website satisfaction at national, sector and industry levels. Inaugural results show that aggregate website satisfaction is 78.2 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, which stands 2% higher than overall customer satisfaction for all measured companies (at 76.7).

The website scores are based on more than 25,000 interviews and encompass user experience with websites of more than 200 companies within the 33 industry categories covered by ACSI throughout the year. Credit unions earn the top score of 86, followed by consumer shipping and banks at 85. In contrast, social media—which include companies with an enormous user base—perform less well with an ACSI score of 68.

“The huge amount of traffic on social media websites creates a user base where preferences, abilities and interests vary greatly—unlike the user base of a credit union, for example” says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. “The large number of users also has led to a degree of monopoly power such that the threat of user defection due to dissatisfaction is, at least for now, not very potent.”

A website is a business necessity, but for some industries it is more critical to the overall purchase process than for others. Website satisfaction by industry tends to correlate with overall satisfaction, but not always. Two of the top three industries for website satisfaction—credit unions and consumer shipping—also do well in terms of overall customer satisfaction. Banks, on the other hand, show an overall ACSI score of 78, which lags the industry’s website score (85).

“The websites of banks, airlines and hotels add a great deal of value to overall customer satisfaction,” says Fornell. “For these industries, website satisfaction is much higher than overall satisfaction, but it doesn’t make up for weaknesses in other areas of the customer experience.”

Airline passengers are pleased with their carriers’ websites (80), but not with their flying. At 69, airlines rank close to the bottom for customer satisfaction among all industries and also show the biggest disparity between website and overall satisfaction (11 points). Another travel-related category, hotels, scores high for website satisfaction (84) but mid-range for overall customer satisfaction (77).

“For airlines and hotels, websites are an important channel that consumers often turn to multiple times during the purchase process—from gathering information about prices to making reservations,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI Director. “For travelers, both the hotel and the airline website provide favorable experiences, whereas the hotel stay is no better than average in customer satisfaction and the flight customer satisfaction is dismal.”

Online brokerage (80) is the only Internet service that scores above the national website satisfaction average. Internet retail has modest user satisfaction (78), whereas the websites offered by brick-and-mortar retailers—including department, discount, and specialty stores; supermarkets; and drug stores—do slightly better (79).

“Websites present an opportunity for traditional retailers to go head-to-head with Web-only competitors, and the brick-and-mortar guys are doing a good job at the moment,” says VanAmburg. “With more shoppers embracing online, success for any retailer—traditional or Internet—may depend on having a top-notch website. While the in-store customer interface remains essential for traditional retailers, it does not compensate for an inferior online experience.”

For the health-related categories of ambulatory care and hospitals, website satisfaction actually trails overall patient satisfaction. For ambulatory care—which covers office visits to healthcare providers such as doctors, dentists or optometrists—patient satisfaction is quite high (82), but websites seem to be lacking (74). The two are closer for hospitals, but websites still lag by 4 points.

“With many healthcare organizations looking for greater efficiencies through Web-based patient communication channels, low website satisfaction might become problematic, especially as healthcare websites get more traffic,” says VanAmburg.

This press release is also available in PDF format.

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