2012 Temkin Web Experience Ratings

Temkin Group has just released the 2012
We introduced the Temkin Web Experience Ratings last year. The 2012 Web Experience Ratings include 159 companies from 18 industries and is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Congratulations to the top firms in this year’s ratings: Amazon, credit unions, USAA, PNC, Southwest Airlines, eBay, Sam’s Club, ShopRite, JCPenney, and ING Direct. Of course, not every company has earned good web experience, especially the companies at the bottom of the 2012 ratings:  Charter Communications, Humana, Qwest, Cigna, Time Warner Cable, Anthem, Road Runner, Medicare, Blue Shield of CA, and TracFone.

We also  examined industry averages and found that banks and investment firms have earned the highest Temkin Web Experience Ratings followed by hotel chains and retailers. But consumers gave very low ratings to Internet service providers, health plans, and TV service providers.

The research also examines how individual companies are rated relative to their industry peers. The following 11 firms outscored their industry average Temkin Web Experience Ratings by 10 percentage points or more: Kaiser Permanente, Amazon, ShopRite, Southwest Airlines, USAA, Starbucks, H.E.B., Publix, credit unions, Marriott, and Apple.

The following 15 companies fell 10 percentage points or more below their industry averages: Wells Fargo Advisors, AAA, Charter Communications, Delta Airlines, Citibank, Bank of America, Humana, TracFone, Qwest, Old Navy, U.S. Airways, Rite Aid, Kohl’s, Kmart, and Charter Communications.

Temkin Group also analyzed changes from the 2011 Temkin Web Experience Ratings. Led by TV service providers and insurance carriers 11 of the 12 industries that were in both the 2011 and 2012 ratings improved since last year.

Seventy-two percent of companies that were in the 2011 and 2012 Temkin Web Experience Ratings showed improvement. Led by Comcast (Internet and TV service), Allstate, AOL, Charter Communications, Toshiba, and Sam’s Club, 20 companies improved by 10 percentage points or more between 2011 and 2012. Only three companies­— Kohl’s, TracFone, and Rite Aid—declined by 10 percentage points or more during that timeframe.

Do you want to see the data? Go to the Temkin Ratings website where you can sort through all of the results for free. You can even purchase the underlying data if you want to get more access.

The bottom line: Web experience is not good enough for how important it is

Sam’s Club and Amazon Deliver Best Customer Experience in Retail

This post examines the 24 retailers included in the 2012 Temkin Experience Ratings.

Sam’s Club was the top rated company across all industries and only one of eight organizations with an “excellent” rating. Five other retailers were in the top 20 positions in the overall rankings: Amazon.com (#10), Target (#14), Walgreens (#14), BJs Wholesale Club (#18), and Lowe’s (#18).

The retail industry received the third highest average customer experience rating, falling only behind grocery chains and fast food restaurants. Despite the strong performance of the industry, one retailer, RadioShack, earned a “poor” rating while seven other retailers at the bottom of the list received “okay” ratings: Office Depot, eBay, Barnes & Noble, Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, and Macy’s. The remaining retailers earned “good” ratings.

While most industries showed improvement between 2011 and 2012, retailers were one of four industries that registered a slight decline. Sam’s Club and Toys “R” Us are the only two retailers with more than a five-point increase in their ratings between 2011 and 2012. Kohl’s and Costco are the only two retailers with more than a five-point decrease in their ratings between 2011 and 2012.

Do you want to see the data? Go to the Temkin Ratings website where you can sort through all of the results for free. You can even purchase the underlying data if you want to get more access.

The bottom line: There’s a wide gap between good and bad in retail CX

Lessons From Best Buy’s Online Order Fiasco

Best Buy recently announced that it was canceling a number of orders that it took on its website on the weekend after Thanksgiving because of “overwhelming demand of hot product offerings.” This move comes after aggressive promoting and discounting to draw consumers to its online channel.

So what is Best Buy doing besides just canceling orders right before Christmas? According to one of the affected consumers, Best Buy tried to get him to take an older model or a more expensive model, both of which wouldn’t arrive until after Christmas.

According to Susan Busch, senior director of Best Buy’s public relations

What was wrong is that there was an unacceptable delay between order confirmations and cancellations, and for that we are very sorry. It’s important to note that this was a rare situation based on a high volume of orders over a short period of time.”

My take: Sorry Ms. Busch, there’s much more wrong than that. The problem started at the point when Best Buy actively promoted products that it couldn’t fulfill. Then the problem continued when it took orders for products that it couldn’t deliver. That’s the point where it gets to the problem of an unacceptable delay in notifying customers. But, the Best Buy problems don’t even end there. Best Buy completely failed to recover from the service miscue.

Here’s how I’d rate Best Buy against our C.A.R.E.S. model for service recovery:

  • Communication (clearly communicate the process and set expectations): D
  • Accountability (take responsibility for fixing the problem or getting an answer): D
  • Responsiveness (don’t make the customer wait for your communication or a solution): D
  • Empathy (acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer): D
  • Solution (at the end of the day, make sure to solve the issue or answer the question): D

Here’s how Best Buy could have better handled this situation:

  • Put together a plan for each element of the C.A.R.E.S. framework
  • Communicate immediately with affected customers
  • Give everyone a Best Buy gift certificate (amount based on order size) to acknowledge the inconvenience
  • Provide a coupon code for free expedited shipment, so they can order something else and get it on time
  • Setup a toll-free number and a special support site (with chat representatives) to deal with any special issues
  • Get the CEO (Brian Dunn) to communicate the apology, don’t offload it to PR
  • Explain what you are doing to make sure that it doesn’t happen again

The bottom line: Companies need to plan for major problems BEFORE they occur

Will Retailers Deliver Holiday CX Cheer?

Earlier this year, we published the 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings (TER) that evaluates the customer experience (CX) of 143 large US organizations based on consumer ratings across three elements of experience: functional, accessible, and emotional.

Since many consumers are flocking to retailers at this time of year, I decided to share some details of the 27 retailers in the 2011 TER. The chart below shows the overall TER (across all 143 companies) as well as where the retailers rank compared to each other in the functional, accessible, and emotional elements of experience.

As you can see, Amazon.comKohl’s and Costco are on top while RadioShackGap, and Toys ‘R’ Us are at the bottom of the overall TER. It’s also interesting to look at the difference across components of the TER. Here are the retailers with the largest inconsistency across their rankings:

  • OfficeMax: functional (#15) and emotional (#24)
  • eBay: functional (#17) and accessible (#24)
  • Best Buy: accessible (#18) and functional (#25)
  • BJs Wholesale: emotional (#3) and accessible (#9)
  • WalMartfunctional (#8) and accessible, emotional (#14)
  • Macy’saccessible (#9) and emotional (#15)

The bottom line: Hopefully, ’tis the season to be CX jolly!

Best Buy Delivers Best TV Buying Experience

As consumers flock to stores to scratch names off of their holiday gift lists, we decided to look at which retailer delivers the best TV buying experience. In a consumer survey we launched earlier this year, we asked a series of question to 788 consumers that had recently purchased a TV. We had enough responses from Walmart and Best Buy customers to examine those retailers directly.

It turns out that Best Buy customers tend to be more satisfied with their TVs and the service they receive in the stores. Walmart customers are less satisfied with the service, but are looking more for price than service when they make their purchase.

The bottom line: Go to Best Buy for service, Walmart for price

Report: The PC Buying Experience, 2011

We just published a new Temkin Group report, The PC Buying Experience, 2011.

Do you want to know how consumers chose computers and the difference between Apple buyers and others? Or the differences in channels that they use?

Here’s the executive summary:

Computers have become a standard appliance in most households, but why aren’t they easy to buy? This report analyzes the buying process of 842 US consumers that have recently purchased a computer. Apple is the leader across the buying experience but Dell and HP are not far behind. This report compares the customer satisfaction of the leading computer suppliers in five stages of the consumers buying process. It also examines influences and decision factors on the consumer buying decision by major PC manufacturer. Key findings are that Apple consumers care more about customer service than PC buyers, consumers that buy PCs directly from the manufacturer are more satisfied than those that buy at a retailer and Best Buy employees are more helpful than those at other retailers.

Download report for $195

As you can see from the following graphic (one of the 10 figures in the report), Apple’s largest satisfaction gap with PC makers shows up in customer service and the smallest gaps are with the buying process and with the computer itself.

The report also examines this data by PC brands. That analysis shows that HP and Dell are much more competitive with Apple than are “other” PC makes. HP outpaces Apple when it comes to the process of purchasing the computer and Dell is only one percentage point behind Apple when it comes to the ease of setting up a computer. Buyers of all three brands are equally satisfied with the computer they purchased.

Download report for $195

The bottom line: Apple leads customer service expectations and delivery

P.S. For more information on customer experience ratings of computer companies, see the post: Why Did Apple Do So Poorly? which highlights the results of 10 computer makers in the 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings

Amazon.com Leads, RadioShack Lags Retail Customer Experience

In the 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings, we examined the customer experience across 12 industries. Retail is the highest rated industry with an average rating of “good.” Here are the results for all 27 retailers that we rated…

As you can see, Amazon.com and Kohl’s are the only retailers with “excellent” ratings. At the other end of the spectrum, RadioShack is the only retailer with a “poor” rating. There are some interesting differences on the list:

  • Gap can learn from its much higher scoring “sister brand” Old Navy
  • Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJs Wholesale all score highly
  • Walgreens outpaces Rite Aid and CVS
  • Kohl’s has a five point gap over Target
  • Lowe’s has a six point gap over Home Depot 
  • Wal-Mart has a six point gap over Kmart

Let’s take a look at the three components of the Temkin Experience Ratings…

Costco and Amazon.com are the top retailers when it comes to the functional element of experience while Kohl’s  is the top-performing retailer when it comes to accessible experience. Best Buy falls below the good line for “functional” experience while Gap and Radio Shack fall below the good line for “functional” and “accessible” experience. All three of those laggards also score poorly when it comes to “emotional” experience.

The bottom line: Not all retailers are created equal

Report: Online Gift Card Buying Needs Work

We just published a new report, Online Experiences For Buying Gift Cards Need Work.

The report examines the Websites of 12 companies using Temkin Group’s SLICE-B experience review methodology.

Here’s the executive summary:

Gift cards are a popular choice for consumers, especially around the holidays. Almost all major stores and restaurants sell them online. How user-friendly are those online purchasing processes? To answer this question, we used Temkin Group’s SLICE-B methodology to evaluate the experience of 12 large companies: three grocers (Kroger, Publix, and Safeway), three electronics retailers (Apple, Best Buy, and Radio Shack), three department stores (J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s), and three restaurant chains (Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Outback Steakhouse). Outback Steakhouse and Radio Shack were the only sites to receive an “excellent” rating. At the other end of the spectrum, Safeway, Chili’s, Kroger, and Best Buy were at the bottom with “mediocre” ratings. Many of the sites lacked key functionality such as free shipping, sending the cards at a later date, and sending multiple cards in a single order.

Download report for $195

Here are the overall results:

Download report for $195

The bottom line: Make it easier for people to give you money

Barnes & Noble Leads Retailers In Customer Experience

My research plan for Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index (CxPi) includes an analysis of all 14 industries in the rankings. I recently published the retail analysis which examines the 25 retailers (out of 133 total companies) in the CxPi. Here are the overall results: 

As a group, the retailers did quite well; grabbing 12 out of the top 20 spots in the rankings. Retailers also showed a modest improvement over the 2008 CxPi. Here are some insights from looking at the retail results:

  • The best retail customer experience. At the top of the list, 7 retailers ended up with “excellent” ratings: Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, BJs Wholesale Club, and Costco Wholesale.
  • The worst retail customer experience. At the bottom of the list, 2 retailers ended up with “okay” ratings: Office Depot and Marshalls.
  • Best Buy & Macy’s got better. When we compared the 2010 results with those of the 2008 CxPi, we found that nine retailers improved. Best Buy and Macy’s made the largest gains. Going in the other direction, Toys “R” Us, Old Navy, Borders, and Staples had the largest declines.
  • Wal-Mart and  Office Depot aren’t enjoyable. The CxPi contains three underlying components: 1) meeting needs, 2) being easy to work with, and 3) enjoyability. There were only 2 ratings that fell below “okay” in any of those three areas: Both Wal-Mart and Office Depot received “poor” ratings for “enjoyability.”
  • iTunes is most difficult to work with. 24 of the retailers received “good” or “excellent” ratings in the second area, being easy to work with. The lone exception: Apple iTunes received only an “okay” rating.

The bottom line: Retailers are good, but not great in customer experience

Employees Are Key To Electronics Retailing

Here’s how Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn ended a recent blog post on CNBC:

You should be happy with what you purchase. This means that the product works the way you expect it to before you walk out of the store, or when you get home. If not, you’ve overpaid at any price.

Dunn’s post discusses the importance of knowledgeable staff in the consumer electronics space. He points to a study by The American Consumer Institute that shows how often consumers selected different attributes as being important for their electronics purchase:

  • Product quality (85%)
  • Knowledgeable staff (77%)
  • Finding someone to help (74%)
  • Lower prices (70%)

My take: True! Dunn’s comments are consistent with my previous post about Wal-Mart’s new tech support as well as my research which shows that customer service trumps price across most industries. When consumers chose a retailer, the need for higher customer service increases with age. There are 2% more Gen Y that want good customer service than those that want low prices. For Seniors, the gap between customer service and low price is 14%.

That’s why retailers need to focus on the 4th law of my 6 laws of customer experience: Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.

The bottom line: Don’t sell electronics, help people chose and use them.

Wal-Mart Slaps On Tech Support

Wal-Mart has started to sell technical service plans for setting up and using TVs and PCs. Rather than building up in-house capabilities, Wal-Mart will sell third-party services from N.E.W. Customer Service Companies.

My take: Wal-Mart’s move fills a gap in it’s offering; helping customers install the products they buy. But the ideal service scenario starts before a purchase and continues on after installation and setup. So Wal-Mart will eventually need to do more than sell another company’s tech support bundles. To sell higher-end consumer electronics, it will need to bolster its in-store service and deeply integrate support throughout a customer’s lifecycle.

With Best Buy and Apple boosting their technical support capabilities, consumers will increasingly look for more guidance and support from their consumer electronics retailers. And my research has shown that customers who chose retailers based on their service are much more loyal than those that are just looking for low prices.

The bottom line: High-end electronics need integrated support.

Best Buy Learns Social Media Lesson

Best Buy recently posted a seemingly innocent question on its Facebook page: “What do you think about offering Bestbuy.com in Spanish?” But it didn’t get the constructive dialogue that it was looking for. According to Tracy Benson, Best Buy’s senior director of interactive marketing and emerging media:

It was a landmine. There were hundreds of negative responses flowing in, people posting racist, rude comments

My take: Best Buy’s experience highlights key learnings about social media:

  • Feedback doesn’t always reflect the actual voice of the customer.
  • A loud minority can disrupt almost any conversation.
  • If you initiate a conversation, you should have rules for terminating it.
  • Being open and honest sometimes requires being firm and intolerant.
  • Listening to feedback is only the first step in the “LIRM” process.

The bottom line: Don’t treat social media as a panacea

It’s Time To Engage Your Employees

As I was catching up on my reading, I ran across an article in BusinessWeek that discusses research from Gallup showing that less than 30% of the corporate workforce is truly engaged in its work. Why does this matter? The article points to some findings at Best Buy:

For every one-tenth-of-a-point increase in employee engagement, each Best Buy store increased profits by $100,000 a year.

My take: Less than one-third of employees are engaged in their work. Wow, that’s a huge opportunity! Companies that are looking to build more loyal customers need to look at their employees first. As I discuss in my eBook The 6 Laws Of Customer Experience: Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers. Companies trying to improve the customer experience without figuring out how to engage the other 70% of their workers will likely fail.

That’s why I like what Alaska Airlines did with its North Of Expected campaign. Even with the backdrop of a difficult economic environment, the airline seized the opportunity to energize its workforce. Prior to rolling out its external marketing campaign, the company spent 10 weeks on an internal campaign called “Be North Of Expected” that engaged employees in Alaska Airline’s heritage of good customer service.

The bottom line: Employee engagement is a required path to customer loyalty

Barnes & Noble Tops Retail Customer Experience List

As a part of my effort to examine the industry results from Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CxPi), I recently published a research report called Customer Experience Index 2008 Snapshot: Retail analyzing the 25 retailers in the rankings. Here are some of the findings:

  • Retailers did well. As a group, the retailers received a “good” rating of 81% and ended up taking 9 of the 10 top spots in the overall rankings. The industy had the second highest increase from last year’s rankings (behind only banks).
  • Books lead. Barnes & Noble replaced Costco at the top of the 2008 CxPi rankings, and the next two retailers near the top of the rankings were also booksellers: Borders and Amazon.com.
  • Electronics lag. The electronics retailers Best Buy, Circuit City, and Radio Shack ended up tied for next to last place in the retail list.
  • Depots disappoint. In many cases, retailers in the same sectors ended up with very similar CxPi scores. But there were a couple of notable exceptions: Staples ended up 9% higher than Office Depot, and Lowe’s ended up 5% higher than The Home Depot.
  • Barnes & Noble and Office Depot lead opposite trajectories. Comparing results from last year, Barnes & Noble showed the largest improvement while Office Depot had the largest decline.

The bottom line: Retailers are good, but could be much better.

Microsoft Takes A Giant Leap Into Retail

Microsoft has been contemplating a new frontier…

Retail.

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has recognized that it needs to take a more active role in the retailing of it’s products. It can no longer leave in-person merchandising and selling to retailers. What’s driving the urgency in Redmond to get into stores?

Apple.

Apple has radically changed the paradigm for retailing in technology. Rather than relying on retailers to deliver in-person experiences, Apple stores have revolutionized both the sales model and the service model for technology retailing.

That’s why it’s no surprise that Microsoft just hired a former Walmart executive to open a chain of retail stores. This effort will report into Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO (and a former Walmart executive) who says the aim is to

Transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience at retail by improving the articulation and demonstration of the Microsoft innovation and value proposition so that it’s clear, simple and straightforward for consumers everywhere.

This follows Microsoft’s recent unveiling of its huge Retail Experience Center in Redmond. I actually visted the center last year while doing some work with Microsoft on its retail strategy; it’s quite impressive.

My take: The technology market is maturing. Mainstream consumers are now the largest market; not techies. There’s a broad base of customers who want to buy technology products (PCs, phones, MP3 players, TVs, etc) who don’t understand anything about the underlying technology. So the listing of speeds-and-feeds (along with other technical specs) is an outdated retail marketing approach.

Unfortunately, retailers have not kept up with this shift. If you look at the 25 retailers that we ranked in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, three of the bottom four were electronics retailers (Best Buy, Circuit City, and Radio Shack). This might also explain why stores like Circuit City and Tweeter are going bankrupt. So manufacturers like Sony, Apple, and now Microsoft are taking a lead in finding the right approach.

Here’s some of the things that mainstream technology users need:

  • Plain language about feature benefits to enable trade-offs (why should I care about 60 HZ or 120 HZ when buying an LCD TV?)
  • Products that are easy to setup and provide very simple interfaces for making common configuration changes
  • Easy-to-use decision making tools for narrowing potential products
  • Human advice (through trained employees and social media forums) for making product decisions
  • Access to help for setup, repair, and usage questions

The bottom line: The electronics retail experience is overdue for a makeover

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