Whether it's because of dropping prices or increased reliability (or more likely, a combination of the two), people are more satisfied with their computer and consumer electronics purchases than ever before.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, overall satisfaction with personal computers increased 4% over the previous year to reach a high of 78 (on a 100-point scale). The news is even better for other consumer electronics; the category's overall customer satisfaction increased 2.4% to 85, the best-ever score for the category and the highest level of customer satisfaction for any industry covered by the ACSI in 2010, says David VanAmburg, ACIS's managing director.
"Customer satisfaction is at or near all-time highs," VanAmburg tells Marketing Daily. "This is in part because of improvements in the products themselves. We can also attribute it to the effect of the recession on pricing."
With many manufacturers offering reduced prices during the recession, consumers feel they are getting a better value for their electronics, which increases their overall satisfaction, VanAmburg says.
"They're more satisfied by the overall experience, but that may be [colored] by the value perception," he says.
In the computer category, Apple increased its customer satisfaction level 2% to 86 -- its highest score ever -- and the seventh year in a row the company has led the computer category. Apple's 9-point lead over competitors is also the largest among all companies in the ACSI.
"I wouldn't say they can do no wrong," VanAmburg says. "[But] they appear to have figured out how to appeal to the loyal customer base they have."
Yet most Windows-based computer makers also showed gains in the category, thanks in part to customer-perceived improvements of Windows 7 over the much-maligned Windows Vista, VanAmburg says. Dell's customer satisfaction increased 3%, while Acer and HP each increased 4% (forming a three-way tie for second-highest index at 77, behind Apple.)
"They're seeing they've got to step up their games," VanAmburg says. "The PC makers are going to wake up to the realities of the industry."
The ACSI also tracked customer satisfaction among major appliances (such as refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers), which improved 1.2% to 82, marking a 10-year high. Whirlpool led the industry with an index score of 83, followed by GE, which had a score of 81 (up 5%).