The good news for personal computer makers: Overall customer satisfaction with the products has not declined the in past year. But it hasn't increased either.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction with personal computers is at 78 (on a 100-point scale), the same level it was at a year ago (when it had posted a 4% increase).
"A leveling out is obviously not a change," Forrest Morgeson, ACSI's director of research, tells Marketing Daily. "Obviously for all customers and the industry, you'd like to see it increase, but [staying still] is not necessarily a bad thing."
Among the personal computer makers (which is a shifting definition as tablets and smartphones catch on with greater numbers of consumers), Apple continues to stand out among its peers. In addition to increasing its ACSI score to 87 in 2011 (a 1% increase over 2010), Apple outdistances the next-closest competitor (HP) by nine points. Apple has led ASCI in the personal computer category for the past eight years.
"It's been a rare company in that it's offered a high level of customer satisfaction over a long period of time," Morgeson says. "Most suppliers are able to enter a marketplace and gain a big market share, but then slip in customer satisfaction over time."
Despite a recent announcement that it was going to exit the computer production sector, Hewlett-Packard's two computer brands (Compaq and HP) also saw increases in the ACSI, although at opposite ends of the spectrum. HP was the highest scoring among Windows-based PC makers (with a score of 78), while Compaq was the lowest (75), though both scores represented a 1% increase from 2010. The other computer companies (Dell, Acer and an aggregate of smaller market-share companies) saw their score unchanged at 77.
Meanwhile, the consumer electronics sector as a whole (which includes televisions, Blu-Ray Disc and DVD players) is also unchanged, with an ACSI score of 85, which remains the highest among the 47 industries covered by the Index. The category's benefits include an increase in overall product quality, while prices continue to decline, Morgeson says.
"It's been one of the highest-performing industries we track," Morgeson says. "It's a consumer durable goods product that is very satisfying and the prices continue to go down."