In its recent analysis of corporate performance from an online customer's perspective, The Customer Respect Group (Bellevue, Wash.) rated 64 food, beverage and tobacco firms ranking among the country's 1,000 largest companies. On the food & beverage list, Land O'Lakes (Minneapolis) garnered the top spot, followed by Campbell Soup Co. (Camden, N.J.) and Smithfield Foods (Smithfield, Va.).

The study attempts to objectively measure corporate performance from the online customer's perspective by rating each company on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being highest) across a series of categories. Rated categories include:

  • Simplicity—ease of website navigation

  • Privacy—a respect of the user's privacy

  • Attitude—the customer focus of the site

  • Transparency—open and honest policies

  • Responsiveness—quick and thorough responses to inquiries

  • Principles—value and respect for the customer's data

Results were tabulated based on interviews with a representative sample of the adult Internet population, as well as analyses of more than 1,000 websites across a spectrum of industries. Combined, the results measured a company's overall Customer Respect Index (CRI).

Of the companies reviewed, 28% included no privacy policy on their websites, while the firms overall scored poorly on responsiveness, tallying a 4.7. Furthermore, some 30% of companies contacted did not reply to any of the inquiries submitted, while another 26% responded to only half of inquiries. Of those that replied with an autoresponse reply acknowledging the inquiry, 48% never replied or replied to half of the inquiries.

“Just as companies in the food and beverage industry provide customers with a list of ingredients in their products and detailed nutritional information, they should clearly outline their privacy practices,” said Roger Fairchild, president of The Customer Respect Group. “Beyond this, surveyed companies should look at other troubling online areas, particularly responsiveness. Simply put, all customers deserve a full reply to their queries and concerns, not just those that phone in or inquire in person.”

For more information about the study, visit or phone 425-454-4151.