This past holiday season, no other retailer earned better customer satisfaction than Amazon. A new survey rated the Internet retailer tops in customer satisfaction for the eighth-straight year, with Amazon this year matching its own record high score of 88 out of 100.

L.L. Bean, QVC, Vitacost and Estee Lauder rounded out the top five.

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

However, not all companies experienced the healthy holiday shopping season that Amazon did. In fact, several large retailers, including Apple, Dell and JCPenney, all experienced drops in holiday sales this year. Apple registered its lowest score in four years, and JCPenney experienced the largest year-over-year drop, falling by six percentage points. and shared the dubious honor of scoring 72 out of 100 in customer satisfaction, making them the lowest-rated companies. The average score for retailers was 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," said Freed. "Satisfaction with the customer experience, when measured correctly, is the most important predictor of future success. And while Amazon clearly gets it, Apple [has] stumble[d] 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."

Companies can keep customers satisfied and coming back for more, in part, by offering a wider array of merchandise, the researchers say. Additionally, companies that improve their websites can expect not only increased sales, but also increased customer satisfaction.

The research was based on the responses of 24,000 customers, taken online between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

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