Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm, has released the results of its “Winter 2003 Online Customer Respect Study” of the countries’ largest 500 companies, and Apple is on the list.
The research firm looked at 500 corporate Web sites in general, and defined 25 different attributes that it says help to define the overall online customer experience. The attributes have been grouped together into some major indicators — privacy, principals, attitude, transparency, simplicity and responsiveness. Combine them together, and you’re left with what the group defines as “Customer Respect.” Each company’s Web site was then left with a Customer Respect Index (CRI) that purportedly offers a measurement of the company’s overall online customer respect.
The Customer Respect Group suggested that overall, high tech firms like Apple need to “reboot” their online customer experience. One third of those surveyed don’t respond to inquiries sent via their Web sites at all, according to the Customer Respect Group. 57 percent responded within 48 hours; 10 percent responded in four days or more.
Out of 500 Web sites, Apple’s ranked 325th, and was awarded an overall ranking of 8.2 — well above the industry average rating of 6.8, but behind some other major firms — including Hewlett-Packard Company (9.7, highest of all the high tech firms on the list), Dell (9.3), IBM (9.0), and even Microsoft Corp., which eked out a 9.0 rating overall.
Apple’s overall rating of 8.2 did put it ahead of other well-known high tech players, however, including Sun Microsystems (7.8) Oracle Corp. (6.3) and Gateway Inc. (5.6). Software and hardware distributor Tech Data Corp. came in last with an overall rating of 2.0, according to the Customer Respect group.
The Customer Respect Group CEO Donal Daly noted that the most pressing issue for most of these companies is to respond to customer inquiries at all. “Nothing turns off a customer or potential customer faster than getting no response. We were surprised to see that only 29 percent use simple but effective Autoresponder technology,” said Daly.
The full report is published twice a year, and the Customer Respect Group offers individual sector reports in addition to a full subscription. Like many such market research offerings, it’s out of the domain of the average person, however — the individual report will set a company back about $4,750, while the annual subscription costs $12,000. For more details visit the Web site.