“Dell Inc.’s customer satisfaction fell this year as consumers complained of long-wait times for help and trouble getting questions answered,” Bloomberg reports. “Customer satisfaction at Dell, the world’s largest personal- computer maker, declined 6.3 percent, based on the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index. Dell fell further behind Apple Computer Inc., which grabbed the top spot in 2004.”

“Dell’s ‘dramatic’ decline may be a sign the company is poised to lose sales, said Claes Fornell, marketing professor and head of the university’s National Quality Research Center. Apple’s customer satisfaction rating was unchanged at 81; Dell’s declined to 74 from 79 last year. Among Internet companies, Time Warner Inc.’s America Online had the biggest gain,” Bloomberg reports. “‘Dell is dropping in large part because of call-center problems, including long-wait times and difficulty with consumers getting their questions answered,’ Fornell said yesterday in an interview from Ann Arbor, Michigan. ‘Consumers are also questioning the reliability of their PCs.'”

Bloomberg reports, “The University of Michigan polls about 80,000 consumers annually to ask how U.S. companies are faring in terms of customer service, Fornell said. Apple, maker of the Macintosh PC, kept customer satisfaction at the highest level since 1994, the first year of the survey. Its Mac shipments are at a five-year high. Dell’s customer satisfaction is at the lowest since 1998, based on the index. Shares of Dell fell 6 cents to $36.58 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading and have lost 13 percent this year. The company said last week revenue rose 15 percent to $13.4 billion, the smallest sales gain in three years and less than the 17 percent analysts’ estimated. Cupertino, California-based Apple’s shares, up 48 percent this year, rose $1.58 to $47.68.”

Full article here.
Microsoft deserves some (much?) of the blame here, to be fair to Dell. After all, if Dell sold the virus-free, spyware-free, adware-free, malware-free, elegant, powerful, and fun Mac OS X, their customers would tend to be much more satisfied.

Related articles:
Apple Macintosh leads in personal computer customer satisfaction – August 24, 2004
Apple Macs top PC Magazine’s ’17th Annual Reader Satisfaction Survey’ – August 10, 2004
Michael Dell says secret of success is to ‘never stop innovating’ – December 12, 2002