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Amazon again tops in e-tail customer satisfaction; Apple slips

For the eighth straight year, Amazon takes the No. 1 spot in the ForeSee survey of online shoppers. Apple, meanwhile, had its worst showing in four years.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Amazon continues to reign as the most popular online store for customer satisfaction, according to a report out today from ForeSee.

Measuring the top online retailers for the holiday shopping season, ForeSee awarded Amazon a score of 88 out of 100, matching the company's top grade from last year. Amazon has scooped up the highest scores in the index for eight straight years, in large part because of the appeal and variety of its products, ForeSee said.

"At this point, Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, its hard to imagine anyone else coming close," ForeSee president and CEO Larry Freed said in a statement. "Companies should emulate Amazon's focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years."

Amazon responded to the news from ForeSee by thanking its customers and ticking off a number of holiday shopping stats, factoids, and other achievements, including its obligatory claims about the popularity of its own Kindle products. Other stats included these:

• On Nov. 26, its peak day, Amazon customers ordered more than 26.5 million items worldwide across all product categories -- 306 items per second.

• Christmas Day was the biggest day ever for digital downloads from Amazon of movies, TV shows, songs, books, and apps.

• Best-selling TVs: Vizio 60-inch Razor LED Smart HDTV; Panasonic Viera 55-inch 3D plasma TV; and Samsung 32-inch LED HDTV.

• Best-selling video games: Just Dance 4; Call of Duty: Black Ops II; and Assassin's Creed III.

In the ForeSee survey, other online retailers with satisfied customers included second-place with a score of 85, followed by with 84, with 84, and with 83.

But some well-established vendors took a downturn in comparison with previous years.

A drop-off for Apple, which tied for second place last year, fell 4 percent to grab a score of just 80, its poorest showing in four years. Dell also dropped 4 percent to eke out a grade of 77. suffered the biggest decline in customer satisfaction, with a 6 percent plunge that gave it a score of only 78.

"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," Freed said. "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 J.C. Penney seem to be struggling to find their way, which could make them extremely vulnerable to competitors."

ForeSee's eighth annual Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index was based on more than 24,000 customer surveys gathered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year the index expanded to include 100 different vendors, up from 40 in previous years.

Update 8:47 a.m. PT: Added Amazon's response to the ForeSee news.