CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, LOYALTY, AND BUYING BEHAVIOR IN THE EVOLVING MULTI-CHANNEL RETAIL WORLD JANUARY 2005
Commentary by Larry Freed President and CEO, ForeSee Results
FORGING A NEW CUSTOMER-CENTRIC PERSPECTIVE ON MULTI-CHANNEL SHOPPERS Today’s consumers demand choice and convenience. They “mix and match” channels according to their needs for product research, purchase and delivery. As cross-channel shopping behavior grows mainstream, the best way to evaluate and compare retail channels is to gauge their relative impact increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customer satisfaction presents a versatile cross-channel metric to gauge the retailer’s strengths and weaknesses from the customer’s point of view. Since satisfaction drives behavior, a more thorough understanding of what drives multi-channel shoppers’ satisfaction will give retailers the insights they need to influence customer behavior in the short term and long term. In this way, customer satisfaction is harnessed to become a driving force in sales growth and increasing loyalty where each channel is optimized to meet the customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. Multi-channel retailers, like all retail organizations, have two primary goals: sales and loyalty. These goals assume critical importance during the holiday season when retailers have the opportunity to build their brands, draw in new customers and strengthen their share of wallet with existing customers. For the multi-channel retailer, an additional challenge lies in making sure that all channels work together to support the overall sales and marketing strategy. These goals share the common thread of customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is a driving force in sales growth, increased loyalty and a strong multi-channel strategy where each channel is optimized to meet customers’ needs. To determine how well multi-channel retailers are meeting the needs of their customers, ForeSee Results and FGI Research recently conducted a customer satisfaction survey during the 2004 holiday season. Between December 9 and December 18, 2004, we surveyed participants who had purchased from one or more specific companies in five categories— department stores, gifts, apparel/accessories, toys/books/games and electronics & computers —within the past 90 days. Survey participants were also required to have used at least two of the company’s channels (web, catalog, store) for product purchase, research and/or pick-up within the same time period, making them true “multi-channel” customers. The survey asked a series of interrelated questions regarding satisfaction with the shopping experience across various sales channels and merchandise categories. Customer satisfaction data was analyzed using the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Produced by the University of Michigan, the ACSI is the gold standard of measuring the impact of customer satisfaction on the purchase of goods and services in the U.S. economy and is backed by a decade of empirical evidence. The ACSI methodology provides the most precise way of measuring satisfaction, identifying key drivers of satisfaction with the shopping experience and quantifying the link between customer satisfaction and behaviors tied to loyalty, such as repeat purchases or referrals. Because of the cause-and-effect nature of the ACSI methodology, ForeSee Results was able to identify top priority areas for multi-channel retailers – or those areas where improvements will have the greatest impact on satisfaction, future purchases and loyalty. 2
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Key findings from our measurement of customer satisfaction with the multi-channel shopping experience include: • Multi-channel shoppers who use the web as their primary research channel are more satisfied than those who primarily use the store to research purchases. And, shoppers who...