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Customer Satisfaction Falls for JCPenney, Macy's, Target

Walmart Maintains Lowest Satisfaction Score

Feb 26, 2014 12:12 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. consumer satisfaction with customer service from the retail sector overall in 2013 improved 1.7 percent year on year to 77.9 points, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). However, the department store segment remained unchanged at 77 points and the Internet retailer score fell 4.9 percent to 78 points.  With more shoppers choosing to purchase online, customer service may have hit a rough patch for web retailers during the Christmas season,  the group concluded.

“A spate of last-minute holiday purchases online, combined with inclement weather, left some buyers disgruntled by delayed shipments,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI's chairman and founder. “That’s the likely reason for Internet retail getting its lowest customer satisfaction benchmark in more than a decade. Nevertheless, diminished foot traffic at malls — along with a surge in shopping via mobile phones and tablets — indicates that consumers are increasingly embracing the advantages of online commerce.”  Nordstrom satisfaction

While the ACSI benchmark for department stores was unchanged,  Nordstrom, which recorded the best customer satisfaction score of all, fell 1 percent to 83 points, while Kohl's was unchanged at 81 points. Dillard's score increased 3 percent year on year to 81 points, but JCPenney's score fell 2 percent to 79 points. Target's score dropped 5 percent to 77 points, in part due to the highly publicized security breach; Sears' score increased 3 percent to 77 points, but Macy's declined 3 percent to 76 points and Walmart was unchanged at 71 points, the lowest satisfaction rating in the category.

“For traditional retailers, discounting in and of itself is not necessarily associated with weak customer satisfaction, nor is high-end retailing a guarantee of the opposite,” said David VanAmburg, ACSI's director. “Discount chains Kohl’s and Dollar General are both above average for customer satisfaction and are among the industry’s top four, while Macy’s, a traditional department store, comes in at the low end.”

Specialty retailers, which included wholesale clubs and office supply stores, experienced a 2.6 percent  overall improvement in the satisfaction rating to a score of 80 points.  The two retailers on the list that sell diamond jewelry included Costco, which rated highest overall at 84 points -- up 1 percent year on year -- and Sam's Club, which was unchanged at 80 points.

Specialty retailers earned strong ratings for staff courtesy and for store layout, cleanliness and the ability to provide name-brand merchandise, compared with department stores, according to ACSI.

Customer satisfaction with Internet retailers fell to its lowest rating since 2001 and suffered in part due to unsatisfactory service on smaller retailer websites, according to the survey. Pure-play Internet retailer scored best, up 4 percent to 88, but eBay fell 4 percent to 80 points and ''all others'' plunged 9 percent to 75 points.

While higher demand at the Christmas crunch time may have posed a service challenge to some web retailers, according to ACSI,  shoppers valued simple checkout and payment processes, a variety of merchandise as well as website performance and navigation, user-generated product reviews and clear product descriptions.

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Tags: customer experience, Jeff Miller, rates, Research, retail, satisfaction, website
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