A new consumer survey shows America's love affair with Trader Joe's and Costco continues, but overall customer satisfaction was down last year.
The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index survey ranked the best and worst retailers of 2018 by asking more than 62,000 consumers to choose favorite department and discount stores, specialty retailers, supermarkets and e-retailers, among others.
The survey had one big surprise: Costco dethroned Amazon in the internet retail category. Despite leading the e-commerce space since 2010, Amazon dropped 4 points from last year, scoring an 82. A score of 100 was best. Costco scored an 83, which matched its top ratings in other categories, the survey showed.
Top retailers scored in the 80s, with most chains clustered in the 70s. Poor customer service was mostly responsible for dragging down scores. The last two yearly surveys showed overall declines in customer satisfaction across all retail categories.
The survey showed mobile apps got high marks when it came to online shopping, but checkout and payment process ratings slipped from 2017 by 2 percent. Other areas scored in this category were site navigation and performance, variety of shipping options and usefulness of product images.
Costco leads (83). Amazon was second (82) followed by Etsy, Kohl's, Nike and Norstrom (81). Apple, eBay, HP Store, Macy's, Newegg, Overstock, Target and Wayfair tied, and ranked in the middle (80).
The bottom five: Staples, Walgreens (76); GameStop (75); Walmart (74); and Sears (73).
"There is a slump in customer satisfaction in every category of the retail sector," said David VanAmburg, ACSI managing director, in a news release. "Internet retail versus brick-and-mortar retail, department stores versus specialty stores, it’s all down. Considering the importance of retail to overall consumer spending, this decline is a big deal."
Low unemployment is typically accompanied by greater employee turnover, and that affects customer service, the report noted.
I'm often asked what to do about poor customer service. Here are a few tips.
Ask for the manager: Explain your problem and what you expect to be done about it in a calm and respectful manner. Ask for names and titles.
Call or write: If the manager doesn't help, call, email or write to the company about the problem and mention whom you spoke with at the store. Find contact info at the bottom of company websites under "Contact Us."
Use social media: Complain to the brand on Facebook and Twitter. This is surprisingly effective. Companies often publicly acknowledge complaints and will try to right the wrong.
Consumer Action Handbook: Download a copy of this handy, 152-page book, available in English and Spanish, from the U.S. General Services Administration. It's packed with tips on being a savvy consumer, how to file a complaint and has an A-Z directory of government agencies and major brands, with addresses, toll-free numbers, emails and websites. Go to USA.gov/handbook.
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