The Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm that focuses on how corporations treat their online customers, today released findings from its Fourth Quarter 2007 Online Customer Respect Study of the Transportation, Logistics and Distribution Industry.
The study evaluated the websites of a representative sample of transportation companies. Using a common set of criteria, it is the only study to bring an objective and consistent measure to the analysis of corporate performance from an online customer's perspective. A directly comparable Customer Respect Index (CRIÃ¢"žÂ¢) is provided for each company. The CRI is a qualitative and quantitative in-depth analysis and independent measure of a customer's experience when interacting via the Internet.
The CRI is composed of six sub-indices that factor into three meta-concepts identified by customers as their critical concerns when using websites:
Site Usability--How usable is the site to a wide range of users? This includes Simplicity (ease of use) and Attitude (accessibility).
Communication--How willing is the company to engage in a one-on-one communication to answer specific questions? This includes Responsiveness (quality of email replies--both speed and helpfulness-- response tone and other communication methods).
Trust--Can this site be trusted with your personal data? This includes Transparency (clarity and comprehensiveness of privacy policies), Principles (respect for data privacy, cookie explanations) and Privacy (respect for data privacy, clarity and comprehensiveness of privacy policies).
The average CRI score for the industry was 5.7 on the ten-point scale. This average represented a slight drop from the 60th to the 54th percentile in relation to the all-industry average. Transportation companies, as a group, improved in two areas since the last evaluation in Q4 2006: Responsiveness and Transparency (clarity and comprehensiveness of privacy policies).
Overall, site usability was the area of biggest decrease in percentile ranking. This indicates a relative rather than an absolute decline in the usability of sites--other industries are setting the bar higher than before and the industry has seen consolidations, which has created inconsistency in site designs.
US Postal Service led the way with 7.6, and was the only company to achieve an "Excellent" rating. Yellow came close with a commendable score of 7.4, while UPS rated third best with 6.9.
Some companies showed particular strength in certain areas represented by the CRI sub-indexes: Yellow was strong in Site Simplicity and Transparency of privacy policies, Canada Post scored well in Responsiveness, and U-Haul did well in Accessibility. Overall, the industry performs very well in the key area of communication. All companies provided online contact methods, and 50 percent of the e-mail queries sent were answered within four hours (compared with the all-industry average of 30 percent).
Over half of the companies studied placed in the top-third of all sites for privacy practices, and two (US Postal Service and Yellow) rated "Excellent." A notable proportion--71 percent--does not share personal data at all, and no company shares personal data with third parties without explicit user permission.
Support for accessibility saw a slight drop in percentile ranking, and the industry now maintains the lowest average of any industry. No site rated excellent, and only three--US Postal Service, U-Haul and Roadway --ranked in the top-third of all sites. Among the site design elements that need to be improved are better color contrast, more easily resizable text, and pages built using more accessible and maintainable technology (CSS).
The top companies in the latest study were:
US Postal Service (7.6)
Canada Post (6.6)
ABF Freight Services (6.4)
Industry Average (5.7)
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