U.S. consumers put Apple on a pedestal of customer satisfaction, according to a survey released Tuesday, but dropped Dell off its prior perch to put it in a tie with the rest of the PC market.
For the second year in a row, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an annual survey of U.S. consumers' opinions of various industries and brand-name companies, has given Apple the highest score in the personal computer category. Apple's rating of 81 is significantly above the average of 74.
Not so for Dell, said Professor Claes Fornell of the University of Michigan, which compiles the ACSI data. "Customer service [at Dell] in particular has become a problem, and service quality lags not only Apple but also the rest of the industry," said Fornell in a statement. "Customer complaints are up significantly with long wait-times and difficulties with Dell’s call-center abound."
Dell's rating of 74 is a five point drop from last year, the lowest score for the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker since 1998, and now matches the average personal computer ACSI score.
Other PC makers, such as HP and Gateway, also saw their scores slip in 2005. HP's Compaq brand, for example, dropped 2 points to 67, while Gateway fell 2 points to end up at 72.
Oddly enough, Hewlett-Packard's own HP-branded PCs came out a winner, with a 2-point jump in customer satisfaction to a rating of 73. (ACSI tracks HP and Compaq separately since they're separate brands, but also to provide historical comparisons to data compiled before the companies merged.)
PCs continue to lag behind other categories in average customer satisfaction. Automobiles and major appliances, for instance, have an average ACSI rating of 80.