February 18, 2004 11:08 AM PST

Shoppers find a friendly face in e-tailers

People who shop online experience more customer satisfaction than consumers in most other industries, including Web-based investing and online travel services.

Statistics released on Wednesday as part of the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan Business School and American Society for Quality, among others, said customer satisfaction scores for the e-tail sector rose more than 84 percent for 2003, a roughly 1 percent increase over 2002 levels.

The wider e-commerce segment scored an 80 percent approval rating, representing a 4 percent gain over last year. Overall, both e-tailers and other e-commerce providers fared better than the national average of 75 percent satisfaction for all the industries measured in the index, both online and offline.

Other online business categories also scored well on the report, including auction sites, travel vendors and investment brokerages, which garnered positive customer feedback ratings of 78 percent, 77 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

Among e-tailers, well-known vendors led the way. The index gauged Amazon.com as having the highest customer approval level of these companies, with 88 percent satisfaction, putting it among the strongest performers of the nearly 200 companies included in the ACSI.

Other e-tailers that won top scores included rival bookseller Barnesandnoble.com, which scored 86 percent in customer satisfaction, and auction giant eBay, the only non-retail company that ranked in the upper echelons of the study, with an 84 percent approval score. Despite eBay's success, most auction sites scored below the national average, including uBid, which recorded a 73 percent satisfaction level.

According to the study, while the strong performance of e-tailers illustrates their "relative maturity," scores for other online industries, which were closer to the national average, indicate that those businesses continue to evolve.

 

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