Apple continues to lead in customer satisfaction, Dell loses more ground

“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


  1. Dell has nothing to do with the computing experience.. which is why Mac users tend to resent Dell.. they don’t step up to the plate where it counts.

    They influence the buying experience.. emphasizing (focus, now) an informative, helpful experience, whilst staying as hands off as possible (no retail stores.. website/phone only)

    So if your Dell breaks you can get support from Dell.. will they help you with Windows. Who knows.. the open-architecture dream of Bill Gates has led to an almost anarchic mess of finger-pointing when things go wrong.. (and they do.. also thanks to open architecture)..

    Dell loses because they can’t promise anything..
    The customer loses because they aren’t promised anything.. and suffer endless frustration.. only to be saved.. when they get.. a new computer..

    (Note. Don’t think every PC maker in the world hasn’t considered outsourcing tech support to a 3rd world country. The support guy is being paid about $50/week? Be nice, okay..?)

    Who wins? Well.. about the only thing assured is that.. in all likelihood.. the PC is running Windows.. which mean Bill wins.

    PS. He has to use Windows. The potential for incriminating photos of Billy G on a Mac is just too great. I guess he doesn’t win all the time.

  2. I think we need a pc clone to explain to us in clear precise and logical language, and preferably without fud, how this appalling lack of confidence by the public in the PC standard and Dell in particular could possibly occur considering the undoubted superiority of the platform and service that we keep hearing about. Oh, right, no chance there then.

  3. After 2 years of saying she was getting a Mac, a friend of mine was otherwised convinced to buy a Dell last minute. It took her five hours to get on the internet. She got the blue screen of death several times the first week. I know her and her lack of computer knowledge– it won’t be long before the spyware and crap clogs her brand new machine. What a waste…

  4. MS does not deserve much of the blame for Dell’s problems. Some for certain, but as much as MDN indicates.

    I have had the displeasure over the past few years dealing with Dell’s customer support on only hardware problems. Even when calling for SMB support, after I got past the overseas call centers and have dealt directly with Round Rock, the support has been terrible. Canceled parts orders with no explanation. Blaming troubles on software when it was clearly a hardware fault. On top of that, the notebooks seem to have purely mechanical failures as if they were on a timer.

    The troubles at Dell are deeper than merely the problems created by Microsoft’s operating systems.

  5. No offense to anyone, but I tried to get my friends Dell going for him, being a Mac user I really didn’t know what i was doing.
    But being sent to India is a real problem, to my suprise some answered right away. But the accent was so bad I couldn’t understand a single word.
    I asked for someone else and that took 42 mins. for someone to pick up.
    I know outsourcing is the norm, but were in America buying from an american Co. And quality support is NOT too much to ask for.
    Michael Dell, you should sell the co. and give the shareholders back their money.

  6. I was just in Round Rock doing a stint at a different company. But I heard about Dell from two people.

    Person One) said that she worked on the database that had the known defective part numbers and the serial numbers of the PCs with those defective parts. If someone calls in with a problem with their PC – they enter the PC’s serial number in the database to see if it has any of the “known” defective parts. Evidentally they have more than one supplier for each part, and some suppliers are better than others. Also, different shipments from the same supplier vary, with one shipment fine and the next defective. Most of these suppliers were overseas and difficult to regulate.

    Person Two) had a daughter who worked in Customer Service for people who buy more than one computer at a time – like goverment agencies or businesses. At the end of the month she starts getting a lot of calls from these people saying they ordered 10 P.C.s and were sent and billed for 15, etc. Evidentally, when a salesperson can’t meet his/her quota for the month he/she will “bump” the quantity on a few orders. Her daughter’s job was to work out a deal to get these people to keep the extra computers. If the computers are sent back it is expensive and Dell should sell them as returns – which they don’t want to do.

  7. MikeR – How would you rate Apple’s customer service then? I suppose fantastic! LOL

    I’ve had to contact Apple’s customer service department one time after running into a glitch after installing a new 2nd internal hard drive. They were prompt and walked me thru fixing the problem instantly – haven’t had a problem since.

    My wife’s Dell on the other hand…well, let’s just say that we had to wipe the hard drive and reload Windoze – again!

  8. It’s so funny, I went to PC World with my friend who bought an Advent laptop and it was, basically, fscked. Viruses, adware & spyware were all over it, but the reason we were taking it to the store was because the fan had started to sound like a Boeing 747 taking off with a full fuel tank.

    PC World’s answer? “Have you tried reinstalling Windows?”

    What a classic! Even though it was 100% a hardware problem, the same, idiotic answer was spewed out that doesn’t actually fix the problem, just makes it a bit less likely to happen was given. But even in this case the problem would still exist. So what does he do? Keep reinstalling Windows? I ORDERED him to ditch his PC and buy an iBook (after PC World refused to refund him, even though I said he did not agree to the EULA that came with Windows and should therefore be entitled to return it). He did, and as you probably all know has not had a problem that requires tech support since!

    Why do tech support people ALWAYS think that re-installing an OS will fix the problem? It’s like buying a new car and having it break down, only for the manufacturer to say “Have you tried re-installing the engine?”

    MW: serious

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