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***Report provides full ranking of FTSE 100 according to website performance***

London, 22 March 2004 - The first Customer Respect Index (CRI) conducted in
the UK gave FTSE 100 companies an average score of just 6 out of 10 for the level of customer service delivered by their websites. But Legal & General, Abbey National and Yell all bucked the trend with scores in excess of CRI 9.0.

Customer Respect Index is a sustained set of criteria that is used to measure a customer's experience while interacting with companies via the internet. It scores websites according to 90 attributes that combine to create the entire online customer experience.

"The UK has always had a poor reputation for customer service. It seems to be ingrained in our culture, because even when the Internet gave companies a whole new way of treating customers, UK companies have still managed to let customers down," says Dan Drury, CEO at WebAbacus, a company that supplies
the Customer Respect Index in the UK.

Key findings of the Customer Respect Index
- Average FTSE 100 score is 6.3, compared to 7.0 for the top 100 US companies
- UK company websites score worse for 'responsiveness' (CRI 4.9)
- 21 per cent of companies do not reply to any online queries
- Only 34 per cent provide email addresses for queries
- Just 10 per cent provide phone numbers or postal codes

Global research from Customer Respect Index shows that, while more than 10 per cent of all transactions start online, Internet users abandon one out of every five websites they visit due to an unsatisfactory online experience. In the UK, it seems to be worse.

"The worst issue that the report highlights is a lack of responsiveness. A company website is increasingly becoming the first point of contact for many customers. If you email a company from its website and receive no reply, it's the equivalent of being ignored by a shop assistant when you ask a question. That's no way for a company to treat its online customers," says James MacAonghus, research director at Aqute Research, a company that supplies the Customer Respect Index in the UK.

Customer Respect Index is a qualitative and quantitative in-depth analysis and independent measure of a customer's experience while interacting with companies via the internet. It assesses websites in six areas.

- Lowest scoring category, achieving just CRI 4.9
- 21 per cent of companies did not respond to queries made through their website
- 18 per cent of companies took over three days to respond
- 33 per cent of companies use an automatic email response, 27 per cent of which were not followed up
- Internet users indicate that two thirds will go to a competitor if a response is not received in less than one business day

Eighteen per cent of FTSE 100 companies do not provide a privacy policy (compared to 10 per cent in the US), leaving many customers without any idea of how their information will be used. In a recent survey conducted by the Customer Respect Group, 70 per cent of Internet users refuse to give information to a company if they are unhappy with the company's privacy policy.

FTSE 100 companies scored poorly when it came to making website users aware of how their personal data would be treated, often reverting to legal-speak. The average FTSE 100 score was CRI 6.7. Eight per cent of users abandon websites because they are unclear about the company's business practices.

Thirteen per cent of FTSE 100 companies share customer data submitted on a website with unaffiliated third parties, without seeking the customer's explicit permission. FTSE 100 companies scored a woeful CRI 5.9 for 'principles', which addresses how customer data is shared inside and outside an organisation. Ninety nine per cent of all Internet users object to their information being shared without consent.

Ease of use, such as how easy a website is to navigate, averaged an acceptable 7.5 although 11 per cent of companies did not provide a search facility or a site map. Internet users abandon on average 20 per cent of the websites they visit because of an unsatisfactory online experience. The number one reason they leave is that sites are too difficult to use.

When measuring how a customer feels having interacted with a company through
its website, FTSE 100 companies achieved an average CRI 6.4, considerably lower than the average CRI 7.0 scored by Fortune 100 companies.


About Customer Respect Index
The CRI was launched in late 2002. Combining the results for more than 1000 of the world's largest companies, it has become the benchmark by which a company can measure how well it serves customers online. It has been adopted by more than 50 of the world's largest companies including Fedex, Microsoft, Altria, JP Morgan, AT&T, Verizon, Lexmark, Boston Scientific, Expedia, HP, Dell, and Liberty Mutual.

Customer Respect Index is supplied in the UK by WebAbacus and Aqute Research.

Published on: 12:00AM on 22nd March 2004