Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz
When it comes to giving customers what they want, Publix leads among supermarkets, Office Depot among specialty retailers and Nordstrom among department and discount stores, according to the quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index.
The report gauges customer satisfaction with 44 companies in the following industries: supermarkets; department and discount stores; specialty retail stores; health and personal care (drug) stores; gasoline service stations; and Internet retail, brokerage, and travel.
The businesses on top strike the right balance between quality and value, according to ACSI researchers. On a scale of 0 to 100, Publix received a top score of 86 among supermarkets in the fourth quarter 2012, followed by Whole Foods (80), Kroger (79) and Winn-Dixie (78).
“Low price inflation for food products in 2012, combined with better service, product selection and store layouts, yields success in the form of enhanced customer satisfaction for supermarkets,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder, in a statement on the findings. Wal-Mart was in last place with a 72, “which suggests that even in a strapped economy, low prices alone are not enough to make customers happy,” the study said.
Downsizing its stores and improving service helped Office Depot lead among specialty retailers. The retailer handily beat No. 2 Staples and No. 3 OfficeMax. It remains to be seen whether the planned merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax will affect customer service. ACSI says mergers tend to have a negative effect on service. Other findings:
*Among department and discount retailers, Nordstrom followed by Target, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney.
*Rite Aid took the top spot among health and personal care (drug) stores, followed by Walgreens and CVS.
*Among online retailers, Amazon.com remained the leader, followed by Newegg, eBay and Overstock.
*Among online brokerage firms, Fidelity led, followed by Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade.
* Among online travel businesses, Expedia and Orbitz tied for first, followed by Travelocity and Priceline.