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New NPS benchmark reveals US loyalty leaders

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 22, 2012

New NPS benchmark reveals US loyalty leaders

In the US, the highest ranked companies and brands in the '2012 Satmetrix Net Promoter Benchmark Study' of 22 industry sectors include USAA, Amazon.com, Costco, Virgin America, Apple, Trader Joe's, and Wegmans.

The benchmark study, covering the financial services, insurance, online services, retailing, technology, telecommunications, and travel & hospitality industries, was expanded this year to include the opinions of over 30,000 US consumers, rating more than 200 brands in 22 sectors. New areas covered in 2012 included auto service and repair, drug stores and pharmacies, hardware and home supply stores, hotels, and travel websites.

Highlights of the benchmark report include:

  • Financial Services USAA's direct banking operation led the banking sector again this year with an NPS of 83%, the highest NPS recorded across all brands and industry sectors. Seven banks had more detractors than promoters, with the Wachovia brand (acquired in 2009 by Wells Fargo) trailing the list with an NPS of negative 15%. In the brokerage and investment category, Scottrade moved into the top spot at 54% thanks to a combination of low cost, ease of use, and responsive customer service. Among major credit card issuers, American Express (43%) was in top position for the fifth year, having maintained this lead through the financial downturn, despite sector-wide tightening of consumer credit.  
  • Insurance The insurance industry was marked by some of the lowest and highest customer loyalty performance, depending on the line of business and company. USAA dominated both the auto insurance sector at 74% and homeowners insurance at 71%. By contrast, most major health insurers had nearly as many detractors as promoters, tallying up an industry average NPS of just 4% (0% if sector leader Kaiser Permanente is not included). Kaiser Permanente stood out again this year with an NPS of 33% thanks to its innovative business model combining insurance coverage with healthcare delivery in one coordinated service. For life insurance, State Farm led again this year at 28%.  
  • Travel and Hospitality This industry group had the largest number of new additions to the study in 2012. For airlines, newcomer Virgin America captured the top spot with an NPS of 66%, followed closely by last year's winner, JetBlue Airways at 64%. American Airlines trailed the sector at negative 5%. In the newly introduced hotel sector, Marriott (56%) and Hilton (55%) led with scores more than 60 points ahead of sector laggard Motel 6. Among the travel websites profiled this year, only TripAdvisor showed a significant differential in its experience, benefitting from its unique hub of consumer reviews combined with travel booking functions to garner an NPS of 33%.  
  • Technology Apple's loyalty performance matched its financial performance in the technology sector this year, again leading in the computer hardware sector with an NPS of 71%. The company also performed well for its consumer software applications, scoring an NPS of 68%.  
  • Online Services In the category of online search and information websites, Google led again this year with an NPS of 56%. Facebook, despite its much-hyped initial public offering, lost 21 points compared to last year's benchmark, dropping to a NPS of 31%. Among online shopping websites, Amazon.com delivered again this year with an NPS of 76%, placing it second among all brands profiled in the study, just behind USAA's direct banking operation.  
  • Retail Three new retailing sectors were added this year. Auto glass repair specialist Safelite AutoGlass led the new auto service and repair sector with an NPS of 48%, outpacing second place provider Goodyear by more than 25 points. In the drug store and pharmacy sector, Walmart Pharmacy led with an NPS of 40%, while home improvement chain Lowe's led among hardware and home supply retailers at 54%. Specialty grocers earned some of the highest Net Promoter Scores in the overall study, with Trader Joe's and Wegmans tied at 73% in the grocery and supermarkets sector. Among major department, wholesale, and specialty retailers Costco took top honours again this year with an NPS of 71%. New additions Belk and Nordstrom also did well, both earning an NPS of 66%. Echoing its financial woes, Sears trailed among department stores with an NPS of 35%.  
  • Telecommunications Most telecommunication providers continued to struggle with low customer loyalty ratings. Internet service providers tied with health insurers to earn the lowest sector average NPS at just 4%. But it was Internet provider Mediacom that lagged all 202 brands in the study, with a Net Promoter Score of negative 21%. The company's customers cited poor customer service and price increases as common issues. Verizon, the highest scoring Internet service provider, had an NPS of just 18%. Verizon did better in cable & satellite TV service increasing its score to 37%, up 9 points over last year and placing it in top position. U.S. Cellular (38%) bumped Metro PCS from the top spot in the cellular phone service sector while T-Mobile slipped to last position at 8% amid the failed merger attempt with rival AT&T.

The Satmetrix Net Promoter Benchmarks are based on survey responses from US consumers nationwide who rate their experience with the primary brands they use. The Net Promoter Score, or NPS, for each brand is based on customers' likelihood to recommend the company's product or service in the sector being rated. NPS is calculated as the percentage of customers who are promoters, rating the company 9 or 10 on a zero-to-ten point scale, minus the percentage who are detractors, rating 6 or lower. Consumers also rate each brand on various aspects of customer experience, including product or service features, customer service and overall value, enabling Satmetrix to analyse drivers of loyalty and recommendation.

According to Deborah Eastman, general manager of consulting for Satmetrix, the annual benchmark is an important guide to help executives understand which brands are winning the loyalty of American consumers: "It also presents a challenge to many companies, to understand how they can be more effective at listening to the voice of their customers and delivering experiences that are worthy of recommendation."

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