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Consumer Products Firms Ranked On How They Treat Online Customers In Spring 2004 Online Customer Respect Study

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The Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm that focuses on how corporations treat their customers online, today released the results of its Spring 2004 Online Customer Respect Study of consumer products firms that rank among the countries largest 1000 companies. Overall, Nike scored highest among apparel firms, while Van Heusen scored lowest. The HON Company ranked first among furniture companies, while Leggett & Platt ranked last. Jacuzzi Leisure Products scored highest among home equipment and furnishing firms, while Masco Corporation scored lowest. The Clorox Company ranked first among household and personal products firms, while The Stanley Works ranked last. And Hasbro bested Mattel in the Toys and Sporting Goods category. The study is the only one to bring objective measure to the analysis of corporate performance from an online customer's perspective. It assigns a Customer Respect Index (CRI™) rating to each company on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest achievable score. The Customer Respect Index is a qualitative and quantitative in-depth analysis and independent measure of a customer's online experience when interacting with companies via the Internet. By interviewing a representative sample of the adult Internet population, and by analyzing more than 1000 Web sites across a spectrum of industries in detail, The Customer Respect Group has determined the attributes that combine to create the entire online customer experience. These attributes have been grouped together and measured as indicators of Simplicity (ease of navigation), Responsiveness (quick and thorough responses to inquiries), Privacy (respects customer privacy), Attitude (customer-focus of site), Transparency (open and honest policies) and Principles (values and respects customer data). Combined they measure a company's overall Customer Respect. The Customer Respect Group continually enhances its methodology by expanding the list of attributes researched and reported on. Recently, the firm expanded that list to include respect for individuals with disabilities. Select Sector Comparisons The Consumer Products companies achieved a high score of 6.8 for Simplicity. However, almost all of the companies have very heavy Web pages. Customers on slower connections may find it frustrating to move around these sites. In Responsiveness, surveyed companies scored a very poor average score of 4.2, although Timberland Co. and The Stanley Works both achieved a good score of 8.5. On the other hand, nine companies scored zero. A surprising 16 percent of surveyed firms did not reply to any inquiries submitted. And among companies that use Autoresponder technology to promise a response, some 33 percent provided no follow-up reply. Site visitors expect quick responses, and will start looking to competitors if their query is not answered within a few hours. In the Customer Respect Net Impact Study 2004, 64 percent of online visitors said that they would go to a competitor's site if they don't receive a timely response to an online inquiry. Although none of the Consumer Products companies managed to score a perfect 10 in Transparency, Mattel, Inc. and Nike, Inc. scored 9.6 and 9.4 respectively. These companies come across as being very open and honest in their policies. Some seven percent of Consumer Products companies share customers' data with business partners without seeking permission and 20 percent of companies share data with affiliates. Of the 38 Consumer Products companies audited for this report, 21 percent did not provide a privacy policy. This fares badly in comparison with the largest 100 U.S. 100 companies - only 10 percent of whom failed to provide a privacy policy. And 68 percent of companies provide forms that can't be easily used by online visitors with disabilities, who may comprise up to 20 percent of their market. "While this report reveals some very good individual results, Consumer Products firms as a whole have some serious work ahead of them when they consider the effect their sites have on the acquisition and retention of customers," said Roger Fairchild, president of The Customer Respect Group. "Research indicates that more than 10 percent of all transactions begin on the Web. The upside to making Consumer Products firms more respectful of customers is astounding when you analyze the revenues at stake." The overall average for all consumer product firms was 5.8. Beyond these scores, the report conveys, in great detail, improvement opportunities for each company. The sector's Spring 2004 ranking is as follows: Apparel Company Name CRI Nike, Inc. 8.3 Timberland Co. 7.5 Nine West Group Inc. (Jones Apparel Group, Inc.) 7.2 Reebok International Ltd. 6.9 Levi (Levi Strauss & Co.) 6.6 Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation 5.9 Kellwood Company 5.0 The North Face (VF Corp) 4.9 Russell Athletic (Russell Corporation) 4.2 Olga Lingerie (The Warnaco Group, Inc.) 4.1 Van Heusen (Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.) 3.1 Industry Average 5.8 Furniture Company Name CRI The HON Company (HON Industries) 7.4 Herman Miller Incorporated 7.0 Steelcase Inc. 6.8 KraftMaid Cabinetry, Inc. (Masco Corporation) 6.0 Sealy Corporation 5.1 Kimball Home (Kimball International, Inc.) 5.0 La-Z-Boy Incorporated 4.7 Broyhill Furniture Inc. (Furniture Brands International) 2.8 Leggett & Platt, Incorporated 2.7 Industry Average 5.3 Home Equipment and Furnishing Company Name CRI Jacuzzi Leisure Products (Jacuzzi Brands, Inc.) 7.0 Newell Rubbermaid Inc. 5.1 Clopay Corp (Griffon Corp) 4.7 Masco Corporation 3.1 Industry Average 5.0 Household & Personal Products Company Name CRI The Clorox Company 7.7 Moen Inc. (Fortune Brands) 7.5 Gillette Company 7.5 Estée Lauder (The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.) 7.3 PartyLite Worldwide, Inc. (Blyth Inc) 7.1 The Procter & Gamble Company 6.9 Kleenex (Kimberly-Clark Corporation) 6.4 Avon Products, Inc. 6.4 Alberto-Culver Company 6.2 Colgate-Palmolive Company 5.4 The Dial Corporation 5.3 The Stanley Works 5.2 Industry Average 6.6 Toys & Sporting Goods Company Name CRI Hasbro, Inc. 6.2 Mattel, Inc. 5.7 Industry Average 6.0 Overall Consumer Products Average 5.8 Other findings for firms in the overall Consumer Products sector include the following: · Surveyed firms receive the best overall rating (CRI: 6.8) for Simplicity and the worst (CRI: 4.2) for Responsiveness. · Some 16 percent of firms did not respond to any online inquiries. · 72 percent responded to all inquiries. Of these, 74 percent responded within 24 hours, 17 percent responded within 48 hours and nine percent responded after two days. · 12 percent of firms responded to half of the inquiries received. Of these, 50 percent responded within 24 hours and 50 percent responded after four days. · Some 31 percent of all sector firms use Autoresponder technology, in which emails are automatically sent to users to confirm the receipt of their inquiry and let them know when they should expect a response. Of these, 67 percent followed up with a full response, all of them in the timeframe promised. Some 33 percent provided no follow-up reply. · Some 68 percent of companies provide email forms for online inquiries, 16 percent provide email addresses and 16 percent provide no online contact methods. · 79 percent of sector firms have privacy policies on their sites explaining how customers' personal data is being used. Of those that do, seven percent need to be more explicit about how they use personal data, 33 percent do not collect data or use collected data only for internal purposes, 20 percent share data with affiliates or subsidiaries and seven percent share data with business partners without permission from users. · Some 74 percent use cookie technology. Of these, 14 percent provide a full explanation about what advantage they provide the user and what data they hold, while four percent provide a full explanation on how to disable them. · 68 percent of companies provide forms that can't be easily used by those with disabilities. How to Order Each company and industry is researched and analyzed twice annually. Subscribers to Customer Respect Online receive: · Industry-specific key findings, analysis and editorials for one-or-more subscribed industry reports · Dynamic league tables for CRI and each CRI sub-index scoring for all companies · CRI report cards for each company covered in that report · Detailed own-company confidential report · Best practice guidelines, practical customer respect examples · Analysis tools for head-to-head and multi-company comparisons with drill-down to sub-indices detail · Annual Fortune 100 CRI Report (annual subscribers only) Customer Respect Online is available in three different subscription levels to suit specific requirements: · Immediate Action: Includes one research cycle, one single industry report, one company confidential report, three months of online access to CRO for $5,000. · Continuous Improvement: Includes two research cycles, two single industry reports, two company confidential reports, 12 months of CRO access, Fortune 100 CRI Report and data for $15,000. · Portfolio Perspective: Includes two research cycles, all industry reports, four company confidential reports, 12 months of CRO access, Fortune 100 CRI Report and data for $25,000. Companies can obtain additional information by visiting the Web site, www.CustomerRespect.com, calling 425-454-4151 or emailing info@customerrespect.com. About The Customer Respect Group The Customer Respect Group is an international research and consulting firm that uses its Customer Respect Index (CRI™) methodology to help companies improve how they treat their customers online. It provides leadership in the objective and scientific measurement of a customer's online experience. Many of the largest U.S. companies have already adopted the CRI methodology to improve online customer satisfaction and loyalty. The Customer Respect Group is headquartered in Bellevue, WA. For additional information, visit www.customerrespect.com. All companies and products listed herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. CONTACT: George Cohen George Cohen Communications (617) 325-0011 george@gccpr.com

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