updated 10:09 am EST, Thu December 27, 2012
Company drops out of top five
Apple has dropped to a four-year low in ForeSee's holiday tracking of customer satisfaction with online stores. The data is based on 24,000 compiled customer surveys taken between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and assigns Apple a three-point dip to a score of 80, knocking it not only out of second place but also the top five. Only JC Penney suffered a worse hit, sliding five points to 78. Amazon remains the top website in ForeSee's rankings, followed by companies like LL Bean, QVC, and Vitacost.
ForeSee's surveys use four different metrics: merchandise appeal, competitiveness of price, website functionality, and website content. "The luster of Apple is fading a bit," says ForeSee CEO Larry Freed. "Keeping up with consumer’s rising expectations of the online customer experience is no easy task, but not keeping up can lead to decline in loyalty, word of mouth and revenue growth. In particular, even though Apple gets top dollar for their products, price is an area weakness for the company when it comes to satisfaction. Apple’s site might be due for some changes, and the usefulness, convenience and variety of features on the site presents the biggest opportunity for Apple to improve the customer experience."
Poor performance could be connected to John Browett, who was briefly the replacement for former Apple retail head Ron Johnson. Browett was fired late this year, in the wake of changes to labor practices that left some retail workers without promotions or enough hours, and deferred some needed store repairs. It's unknown what other changes Browett may have made, but they may have impacted the online store as well.