Who really respects online customers these days?
A continuing study of how companies treat their online customers has found that overall corporate respect for 'e-customers' is now lower than it was in Winter 2002, despite a large increase in responsiveness to consumers' web site enquiries.
The Summer 2003 Online Customer Respect Study from international research and consulting firm, The Customer Respect Group (CRG), focussed specifically on US-based telecommunications and networking firms ranking among the 1,000 largest companies. The study also included leading wireless communications firms.
Indexing respect The study measures and analyses corporate performance from the online customer's perspective, assigning a Customer Respect Index (CRI) to each company. The CRI is derived from the qualitative and quantitative analysis and measurement of a potential customer's online experience when interacting with e-commerce web sites.
By evaluating more than 1,000 web sites across a spectrum of industries, the study identifies 25 attributes that combine to create the entire online customer experience. These attributes have are grouped and measured as indicators of:· privacy (respecting customer privacy);· principles (valuing and respecting customer data);· attitude (the customer-focus of a site);· transparency (having open and honest policies);· simplicity (ease of navigation);· responsiveness (quick and thorough responses to enquiries).
Most respectful Overall, MCI and Nextel scored highest ratings for customer respect, while Citizens Communications Industries ranked lowest. Nextel had also scored highest in the Winter 2002 edition of the study. However, being represented by WorldCom, MCI had scored significantly lower in the winter study.
The telecommunications and networking sector showed some interesting trends between the winter and summer studies. While the overall CRI dropped to 7.0 from 7.3, the CRI for responsiveness improved, showing a rise of 10 percentage points (to 77% from 67%) of firms responding to web site enquiries from the firm's researchers. As a result, the responsiveness CRI increased from 6.0 to 6.5.
Some still failing "While we were heartened to see an improvement in responsiveness, 23% of surveyed firms still don't respond to web site inquiries," said Terri McNulty, CEO for The Customer Respect Group. "Beyond responsiveness, firms should focus on key areas - such as clarity of privacy principles and interaction with online customers - if they wish to see improved CRI scores and an increase in satisfied customers."
"We also found MCI's results to be encouraging; given its troubled past, we believe its recently redesigned web site sends a positive message to potential and current customers," McNulty added.