Stores can improve return and exchange policies, Customer Satisfaction Index finds

Singapore Management University's latest Customer Satisfaction Index found that return and exchange policies in physical and online stores are rated most poorly by respondents. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Return and exchange policies in physical and online stores could be improved, according to the latest Customer Satisfaction Index which was released on Wednesday (June 27).

The statistics, compiled by the Institute of Service Excellence (ISE) at Singapore Management University (SMU), show that although customer satisfaction levels for the retail sector remained statistically unchanged from last year's figures, these policies were among the retail attributes rated most poorly by respondents.

The retail sector - comprising supermarkets, fashion apparels, e-commerce and department stores - scored 72.6 points, showing a 0.6 per cent increase from last year.

"Customers who rated exchange and return policies poorly are associated with lower satisfaction and loyalty scores," said head of research and consulting at the ISE, Mr Chen Yongchang. "Addressing the issue may be a source of competitive advantage for companies,"

It was also found that customers who shop with a store's physical and online operations are likely to be more loyal to that store.

Some 6,900 locals and tourists were surveyed for the index, which measured customer satisfaction levels for the retail and info-communications sectors between January and April this year.

In the info-communications sector, which comprises the mobile telecommunications (telco), broadband, payTV and Wireless@SG subsectors, companies offering good network coverage and network reliability continued to benefit from the loyalty of their customers.

With the entry of new players and the launch of new subscription plans, however, telcos may consider focusing on improving their customers service to stay level with their competitors, ISE executive director Neeta Lachmandas suggested

In the mobile telco subsector, Singtel edged out competitors StarHub and M1 once again this year with a customer satisfaction score of 74.1. However, with nearly 8 per cent of respondents considering switching telcos, and the majority of these respondents having been with their telcos for two to four years, Singtel cannot let its guard down.

"Pricing, loyalty and rewards programmes and subscription plans are the key reasons customers were considering switching providers," said Ms Lachmandas.

The index, which polls consumers in different sectors in each quarter, surveyed consumers on their experiences with 133 retail and info-communications entities in the first quarter of the year.

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