Is Apple’s Fan Base Fading Fast?

John Browett’s stay as Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail chief was short, but it seems to have created some nasty leftovers. Browett’s tenure included Apple Store employee complaints after faulty implementation of a new management system, but it appears the dissatisfaction bled onto the customer side as well. According to research firm ForeSee’s annual Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction with Apple’s online store fell by three points this year.

What’s the Survey Story?

Apple’s slip to 80 points from 83 in 2011 was among the biggest declines on the chart and gave the company its lowest score in four years, according to Apple, placed second last year, dropped to tied 14th place on the chart as (NASDAQ:AMZN) stayed on top with 88 points. Apparel chain L.L. Bean’s online store was second, followed by that of home shopping company QVC and heath product manufacturer (NASDAQ:VITC).

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“The luster of Apple is fading a bit,” ForeSee’s Larry Freed told “Keeping up with consumer’s rising expectations of the online customer experience is no easy task, but not keeping up can lead to decline in loyalty, word of mouth and revenue growth. In particular, even though Apple gets top dollar for their products, price is an area weakness for the company when it comes to satisfaction. Apple’s site might be due for some changes, and the usefulness, convenience and variety of features on the site presents the biggest opportunity for Apple to improve the customer experience.”

The data came from 24,000 customer surveys gathered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. ForeSee used four elements: merchandise appeal, price competitiveness, website functionality, and website content to measure satisfaction.

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