Tech Cos. Score Low for Web Responsiveness

NEW YORK A new report from the Customer Respect Group suggests that some computer products and services firms have a long way to go to improve responsiveness to online inquiries.

The Customer Respect Group, which analyzes how corporations treat their customers on the Web, found that more than a third of the 60-plus computer products and services companies surveyed did not respond to consumer inquiries.

Twenty percent use auto-responder technology, in which e-mails are automatically sent to users to confirm the receipt of their inquiries and inform them when to expect a response. Of these companies, 83 percent followed with a full response.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based research and consulting firm assigns marketers a Customer Respect Index, which is a qualitative and quantitative in-depth analysis and independent measure of a customer’s experience when interacting with companies via the Internet.

Hewlett-Packard earned the most customer respect, with an index rating of 9.7 out of 10. Other high scorers include IBM Corp. (9.5), Ikon Office Solutions (9.3), Arrow Electronics (9.1), Pioneer-Standard Electronics (9.0) and Xerox Corp. (8.8).

Cadence Design received the lowest rating of 2.2. Others getting low marks include Tech Data Corp. (2.9), Brightpoint (3.4), Safeguard Scientifics (3.6) and Affiliated Computer Services (3.9).

In addition to urging companies to improve response rates, the Customer Respect Group recommended that computer products and services firms should focus on clarity of privacy principles. Eighty-seven percent of the surveyed companies have privacy policies on their Web sites that explain how customers’ personal data is used.

The study also shows that 73 percent of the companies use cookies, but 24 percent do not explain how they can be disabled. Only 2 percent use cookies without providing a privacy policy. And 22 percent use cookies and have a privacy policy, but do not provide an explanation of how to disable cookies.