||Study Shows That Appliance Retailers Need to Provide an Outstanding End-to-End Experience
Appliance retailers need more than just a large selection of appliances or the best prices to satisfy their customers, according to the J.D. Power 2013 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study.
The study, now in its sixth year, measures customer satisfaction with the largest appliance retailers based on performance in six factors: sales staff and service; store facility; merchandise; price; delivery service; and installation service.
The study finds that in a very competitive market, appliance retailers not only need to price match and carry a wide variety of appliance brands and models.
"They also must differentiate themselves through their staff greeting and assisting customers quickly; helping them find the right appliance for their needs, and ensuring the appliance is delivered on time, in good condition and is installed properly," said Christina Cooley, director of the home improvement practice at J.D. Power.
First impressions of the sales staff are lasting impressions, and they begin when customers walk through the retailer's door. Slightly more than three-fourths (76%) of customers indicate that they were greeted promptly when entering the store. This is supported by the ongoing Appliance Mystery Shopping Program that J.D. Power conducts at the same retailers included in the study, in which staff across all retailers greeted appliance shoppers in less than two minutes, on average, as they entered the store.
Once salespersons make contact with a customer, it is important that they assess the customer's needs by asking specific questions in order to narrow their recommendations down to a specific product. On average, 85 percent of customers indicate that the sales staff listened carefully to their questions or concerns. The Mystery Shopping Program's second quarter findings show that the needs assessment process is usually conducted through an average of six questions.
The study finds that 42 percent of customers who purchased a new appliance did so because their previous appliance was broken or defective, while 32 percent purchased because they wanted to upgrade their existing appliances or remodel their kitchen. An additional 20 percent of customers purchased a new appliance because they moved to a new home.
A challenge for retailers is to carry a wide enough variety of appliance models in stock that will best meet all of their customers' specific needs. Findings from the study show that customers' desired appliance was available 62 percent of the time, 21 percent had to be ordered and delivered from another store, and 7 percent of the time were available only online.
The delivery process is yet another opportunity to delight customers. Delivering an appliance on time is an important factor in driving satisfaction. Overall, 83 percent of customers indicate that the retailer delivered their appliance as promised. Also critically important to customers is ensuring the right appliance is delivered as ordered -- met 85 percent of the time -- and that the appliance isn't damaged, with 91 percent of appliances delivered damage free.
Overall satisfaction with appliance retailers averages 789 on a 1,000-point scale in 2013, with the gap between the highest and lowest scores only 21 points, down from a gap of 38 points in 2012. While there is a statistically significant difference in the overall score between the highest- and lowest-ranked retailers, there is not a significant difference between the highest-performing retailer's score and the industry average or between the lowest-performing retailer's score and the industry average.
"This really highlights the competitiveness and opportunities that retailers have in differentiating themselves among appliance shoppers," said Cooley.
Lowe's ranks highest in satisfying appliance retail customers for a fourth consecutive year, with an overall score of 800. Lowe's performs particularly well in the store facility, merchandise, price, delivery service and installation service factors.
Following Lowe's in the rankings are Sears (792), which performs well in sales staff and service and shares the highest score in merchandise with Lowe's, and The Home Depot (790).
(Source: J.D. Power and Associates, 09/07/13)