ACSI: Customer satisfaction rockets for Apple’s Mac; rest of Windows PC industry drops again

Customer satisfaction continues on a bumpy path without momentum or trend in the second quarter, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. After a small uptick last quarter, ACSI slips 0.1% to 75.1 on a 100-point scale. The ACSI second quarter report, released today from the University of Michigan’s National Quality Research Center, forecasts consumer spending will remain weak with growth of no more than 2.3% in the third quarter.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. It is updated each quarter with new measures for different sectors of the economy replacing data from the prior year. The overall ACSI score for a given quarter factors in scores from about 200 companies in 44 industries and from government agencies over the previous four quarters.

The index is produced by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and CFI Group.

“The American consumer has long been the single biggest force propping up the U.S. and the global economy,” said Professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan, in the press release. “But declining customer satisfaction combined with weaker demand for U.S. exports may make it difficult for American households to shoulder the burden of being the locomotive for world economic growth.”

Every second quarter, ACSI features the annual measurement of the manufacturing durable goods sector and e-business category of websites, including automobiles, personal computers, major appliances, portals & search engines, and news & information websites.

Personal Computers:
The personal computer industry suffers a second consecutive drop in satisfaction, falling 1% to 74 and losing all gains made since 2005.

Apple defies the industry by moving in the opposite direction and posting its largest gain ever to 85, a new all-time high for the industry. The 8% leap puts 10 points between Apple and its nearest rival, one of the largest gaps between first and second in any industry measured by ACSI. As Apple’s satisfaction improves, so too have its sales, market share, net income, and stock price.

“It’s hard not to be impressed with Apple,” said Prof. Fornell. “This is product extension at its best where the new products, iPod and iPhone, are helping bring new customers to existing computer products. The fact that Apple is not dependent on the Windows Vista operating system hasn’t hurt either.”

The industry aggregate decline is largely for Windows-based machines: Hewlett-Packard (73), Gateway (72), and Compaq (70) each sink 4%. Dell remained relatively flat, rising a mere 1% to 75.

E-Business:
Customer satisfaction with the e-business category of websites surges 6% to an all-time high of 79.3, largely on the remarkable improvement of Google. After slipping behind Yahoo! for the first time last year, Google surged an unparalleled 10% to leave all rivals in its wake. Google’s score of 86 sets a new standard for e-businesses and creates a formidable nine-point gap between its nearest competitor, Yahoo!, which fell 3% to 77.

Automobiles:
Hit with record losses, American auto manufacturers are also suffering from slumping customer satisfaction. No domestic car maker is represented among the top four nameplates, but the bottom three in the industry are all American brands. Yet customer satisfaction for the industry as a whole remains at an all-time high (unchanged at 82), and one American car maker, GM’s Saturn, shows considerable improvement, climbing 5% to tie its all-time high from 1998.

“The problem for domestic companies is that they now lag further behind their foreign counterparts,” said Prof. Fornell. “This is not going to be helpful as the Big Three will lose more pricing power and be forced to continue dependence on rebates and discounting in a market where consumer preferences keep shifting away from domestic cars.”

Lexus and BMW lead all auto manufacturers at 87. Toyota and Honda each improve 2% to 86. Mercedes Benz, once no. 1 in customer satisfaction, continues to fall behind the leading car makers. From being the top scorer in ACSI eight years ago, Mercedes has seen a slow but steady erosion in customer satisfaction – it is now no better than the industry average. Chevrolet, GM’s best-selling brand, takes the biggest fall, losing 4% to 79. Chrysler’s Dodge (-3% to 78) and Jeep (+1% to 76) anchor the bottom of the industry.

Major Appliances:
Customer satisfaction with major appliances slides 3% to 80 this quarter. All three major companies decline, with Whirlpool dropping the most (-5% to 80). General Electric and Electrolux each drop 1% to 80.

Whirlpool, the world’s biggest appliance manufacturers, faces increased competition at a time when domestic demand is shrinking and the cost of shipping and raw materials is rising. The company’s customer satisfaction rose after its acquisition of rival Maytag in early 2006, but the gains in satisfaction were short-lived.

For a complete list of measured companies and scores, please visit www.theacsi.org.

Source: ACSI

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tony G.” for the heads up.]

24 Comments

  1. Yep, build crap and spend your time and money trying to SELL that crap and eventually you end up at the bottom of the tank. Just like American TV sets and Sony, American Car mfg and Toyota, Hp, Dell, etc and Apple. Build a great product and hang in there and eventually you rise to the top.

    Just a thought.

    en

  2. An interesting thing to note is that Google has even higher rating than Apple (86), and BMW yet higher (87).

    I guess all these switchers are waking up to the real ease of computing and are thrilled, after suffering years under Windows. This rating can only continue to climb (ever so slowly), as more people switch and begin to experience the beauty that is Mac.

  3. If you dig into it, M$ scored 69 in 2008 and falling.

    Just goes to show that you might be able to fool all the people some of the time but you can never fool all the people all the time and John and Mary Citizen are now waking up to the existence of real alternatives that make the whole experience of computing fun.

    For example in the daily Metro free paper distributed in London today there is a 60 second interview with the Hollywood star, Anne Hathaway. In it is this little gem…

    “Are you good with computers?
    Well I have a Mac, and it’s impossible to be bad with a Mac.”

    The full link is

    http://www.metro.co.uk/fame/interviews/article.html?in_article_id=271854&in_page_id=11

    and the quote is 2/3 down the page.

    Cheers

  4. APPLE IS SLIPPING!!!

    First off, Gateway has a great laptop/swivel monitor/tablet with handwriting recognition that is simply AWESOME!!

    It’s much faster than typing and one can draw on it, clip web pages from the internet by simply circling them among other neat things. I was simply shocked.

    Second off: Apple has completely and utterly kissed off the 3D PC gaming market. Consoles like the X-Box and PS3 now rule, strike another reason not to need a computer.

    Third: The iPhone is cannibalizing sales from Mac laptops and computers. Sure one needs a pair of reading glasses, a touch stylus and their first born child given to the AT&T;/NSA. But if people are getting their internet info from a pocket device…

  5. To finish my RANT!!

    Third is when Apple does give computers, they come with AWLFUL GLOSSY SCREENS THAT REFLECT EVERYTHING SO MUCH YOU CAN’T SEE WHATS ON THE DISPLAY!!!

    I’m so fed up with Apple’s lately, and this is coming from a 20 plus year Apple veteran. I stick because Apple has done some stupid things in the past and I only need them for safe AND RELIABLE COMPUTING!!

    If I didn’t have that I would have been gone LONG AGO!!

    Please Apple, get your head outta your asses. Stop breathing that Cupertino SMOG, it’s killing your brain cells!

    Amen, Hail Jobs.

  6. @Raving Machead

    Your posting name should be “Raving Asshat.” YOUR opinion of Apple’s business model means absolutely NOTHING, actually LESS THAN NOTHING, in the face of the above numbers, stock price, market share growth, new product development, and the like. Who the fsck do you think you are? WE know who you are: Just another troll with an agenda. The agenda? To save your misled, antiquated ass from extinction by a truly innovative company.

    A Mac veteran for 20 years? Bullcrap. Don’t “stick” . . . LEAVE! Vote with your feet! Show those neanderthals in Cupertino that YOU KNOW BEST. YOU’RE THE MAN! Yeah, you and Scully and Amelio and Dell and Ballmer and Gates, et al.

    Moron.

  7. Very impressive for Apple, hopefully the next survey will be discrete enough to not let any mobileme FUD contaminate the broader results.

    One thing I noticed in the article and found interesting is the subtle media bias. I see this a lot when covering the upcoming elections so am probably too sensitive to it.

    The 10% gap between Apple and it’s nearest rival is appropriately called out as being pretty amazing.

    Dell, on the other hand, was criticized for improving by a “mere 1%” The bias is that Dell leads in customer sat among PCs and while 1% improvement isn’t much, it certainly is a pretty big difference when compared to a 4% DROP by the other PC folks.

    I’m just a big fan of intellectual honesty and let’s be fair, Dell is doing the best among companies that suck. And…they sucked a bit less now than they did the last time.

    peace…

  8. Raving MacHeads comments notwithstanding, Apple seems to have hit the mark just perfectly. Year after year, consumer satisfaction seems to be growing. Recently, while all others in the computer industry seem to be eroding the consumers’ faith, Apple keeps solidifying its position.

    Apple, please don’t touch that wheel! Keep doing exactly what you’re doing, don’t change ANYTHING, otherwise you might screw it up (and in the aftermath, possibly make one single person less unhappy – our MacHead here).

    Judging by all research done so far, move to glossy was a brilliant idea (much more popular than matte). Someone at Apple is clearly smart enough to offer those matte studio displays for the few that need ultimate display quality. For the rest of us, glossy is truly beautiful (not to mention easier to wipe little finger smudges from).

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Apple!

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