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Customer experience analytics firm Forsee is out today with its study of holiday customer satisfaction for the top 500 Internet retailers by revenue. Forsee has Apple at a four-year low in customer satisfaction in its survey of 24,000 customers during prime Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping seasons. Apple slipped three points to a satisfaction score of 80/100 this year, putting Apple at its lowest in four years and bumping it out of the top 5. Among the other largest declines is J.C. Penney, run by former Apple retail head Ron Johnson:

Big companies take big hits: JCPenney (down five points to 78), Apple (down three points to 80), and Dell (down three points to 77) all had large declines in customer satisfaction in 2012, revealing that even some of the highest-revenue companies on the list can struggle to meet the expectations of their customers.

For the study, Forsee focused on four areas of overall satisfaction including the perception of fairness in pricing, the appeal of merchandise, website functionality, and the quality of website content. Among recommendations made by Forsee to retailers for the focus areas, Apple’s online store is listed as needing to improve the “usefulness, convenience and variety of online features available to site visitors.”

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Other than that, Forsee does not go into specifics about the reason behind Apple’s decline in this year’s study. Apple has of course made some major changes in its retail team this year, firing its retail chief John Browett following some controversial decisions during his short-lived stay as senior vice president of retail.

Apple has also run into some big issues with supplies of iPhone 5, iPad mini, and iMacs after the introductions of the products this year, which could have affected customers’ view of the retail experience.

Amazon remained the standard for customer satisfaction in Forsee’s study, sitting atop the list with a score of 88/100:

“This year, we’re seeing that even some of the largest companies in the country are at risk if they lose sight of customer satisfaction,” said Larry Freed, ForeSee president and CEO. “Satisfaction with the customer experience, when measured correctly, is the most important predictor of future success, and while Amazon clearly gets it, Apple stumbles from their usual focus on the customer experience. Dell, and JCPenney seem to be struggling to find their way, which could make them extremely vulnerable to competitors.”

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