Commentary

Social Media Bolsters EBusiness

According to new data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), customers are more satisfied with e-business, as social media hits its stride. Only a year ago, social media ranked among the worst industries in the Index, but now climbs 4.2% to a score of 74 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, overtaking Internet news and opinion websites. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction with search engines and information websites is down 5.0% to 76.

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Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder, says “… today’s consumers practically live on their smartphones… mobile compatibility is increasingly important to customer satisfaction… particularly through mobile apps… optimized … to ensure better compatibility with various screen sizes…”

Social and Search User Experience Benchmarks American Customer Satisfaction Index (100 Point Scale)

 

Social Media Sites

Search and Information Sites

User Experience

2014

2015

2014

2015

Ease of using site on various devices

75

78

83

77

Freshness of Content

74

78

83

79

Site performance

75

77

84

78

Privacy

71

77

--

--

Ease of navigation

74

76

83

79

Variety of services and information

74

76

83

78

Speed and reliability of video clips

74

75

82

76

Amount of ads on site

71

74

75

70

Source: ACSI Index, July 2015

ACSI Director David VanAmburg points out that “… consumers are increasingly turning to Facebook and social networks for news updates… social media now scores as highly as news and opinion sites in terms of providing fresh content and up-to- the-minute information… Facebook outranks the websites of many of the largest news organizations for customer satisfaction… soaring 12% to an ACSI score of 75, ahead of the industry average… ”

Leading the industry for a second year in a row, says the report, social bookmarking site Pinterest, improving with a 3% increase to an ACSI score of 78. Second place Wikipedia rebounds 4% to an ACSI score of 77. The online encyclopedia leads the category for ease of navigation and site performance, but has yet to fully recover from a fall in user satisfaction a year ago, says the report.

Instagram makes its first appearance in the Index with an ACSI score of 76. The mobile photosharing, video-sharing, and social networking site leads the category for ease of use on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

YouTube leaps 4% to 76, and viewing time is up 60%. Google+ is up 6% to 75, but users are no longer more satisfied with Google’s social networking site than they are with Facebook. Twitter reaches its highest ACSI score to date, rising 3% to 71.

In the opposite direction, says the report, the average of “all other” social media sites, including Reddit and Snapchat, drops 3% to 71. Near the bottom of the category, microblogging platform Tumblr posts its first ACSI score at 69. LinkedIn remains at the bottom despite a 1% uptick to 68.

Customer satisfaction with search engines and information websites slides 5.0% to 76, reversing last year’s gain. Google remains the undisputed leader despite receding 6% to 78, and its market share, at 64.4%, is still more than double its nearest competitor.

Mobile searches now exceed those from desktop, but the rise of the mobile platform has proved slightly more difficult for search engines than for social media or news and opinion websites.

VanAmburg says “… most website content was created for the desktop browser first… as consumers shift more of their Internet activity to mobile devices, companies need to optimize for different screen sizes, mobile browsers and operating systems… there is no guarantee that the websites listed in mobile search results will be compatible with mobile devices… ”

User satisfaction with news and opinion websites dips 1.4% to an ACSI score of 73. Stagnant at 76, FOXNews.com no longer holds the advantage over NYTimes.com, which jumps 4% to 76 following its largest website redesign in seven years.

USATODAY.com, which tied FOXNews.com for the lead among individual sites last year, is down 3% to 74 and now ties ABCNews.com. MSNBC.com is up 3% to 75, while CNN.com gains 4% to match the industry average (73). The aggregate score of all other, smaller outlets plummets 6% to 72, losing its edge from a year ago. The Huffington Post inches up 1% to 71, notes the report.

Fornell concludes “… not only are people looking to social media instead of news for fresh content, but news and opinion websites are the lowest-ranked e-business sites in terms of ease of use on mobile and tablet devices… consumers find advertising more intrusive on news and opinion websites than they do on social media, perhaps because it’s more difficult to disguise advertising as content on a news and opinion website.”

2015 ACSI Customer Experience Benchmark Leaders

Leader Category

Social Media

Search Engine & Info

News & Opinion

Ease of navigation

Wikipedia

Google

FoxNews.com

Site performance

Google+

Google/Wikipedia

FoxNews.com/ NYTimes.com

Variety of services

Pinterest/Wikipedia

Google

NYTimes.com

Freshness of content

Instagram/Pinterest

Coogle

NYTimes.com

Speed/variety video clips

Google+/Instagram

Google/Bing

NyTimes.com

Ease of using site on different devices

Instagram

Google

NYTimes.com

Amount of ad on site

Pinterest

Google

NYTimes.com

Privacy

Pinterest

N/A

N/A

Source: ACSI Index, July 2015

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