Customer satisfaction with internet search engines and information sites fell for Verizon Media’s AOL by 3% but remained stable for Google and Bing, and improved by 1% for others like Yahoo, Ask, MSN, and Answers, according to data released Tuesday.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) data shows that features on websites for search and navigation became more difficult to use in 2021 on smartphones and tablets, compared with the prior year.
Twitter fell the hardest -- down 10% -- while Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Wikipedia each fell 3%. Tumblr improved 5%, and LinkedIn improved 3%. Pinterest and YouTube each improved 1% in the customer satisfaction index.
While the pandemic put pressure on companies to perform, the data shows that the industry experienced little change from year to year -- although users increasingly turned to digital channels and the internet for social interactions and information.
“The steady satisfaction over the past year suggests that increased use, and the scrutiny that comes with it, did not impact providers' ability to deliver a consistent experience,” wrote David VanAmburg, ACSI managing director, in an email to Inside Performance. “In comparison, the telecommunications industry experienced similar strain but could not hold up under pressure.”
The data -- part of a customer experience benchmark report for social media, search engines and information as well as news and opinions -- is used as inputs for the Index’s cause-and-effect econometric model, which estimates customer satisfaction as the result of the survey-measured inputs of customer expectations, perceptions of quality, and perceptions of value.
Ratings are based on email interviews with 5,544 people who were chosen at random, fielded from July 6, 2020, through June 15, 2021.
Users were asked to evaluate their recent experiences with social media, search and information, and news websites in terms of visitor traffic. The data also includes an aggregate category of “all other.”
The Internet Search Engine & Information category improved the most in terms of consumer sentiment around the number of ads on the site. Survey takers were pleased with the number of ads on internet search engines and information sites in 2021 compared with 2020, with a benchmark of 74 in 2021, compared with 72 in 2020, respectively.
Additional categories in Internet Search Engine & Information remained stable or improved, such as the quality of mobile apps, which also improved by a benchmark of one point: 85 this year vs. 84 in 2020.
Other experiences in this category analyzed remained stable such as Reliability of mobile apps for downtime and crashes, ease of navigation, site performance, content freshness, variety of services and information, speed, and reliability of video clips.
When search engines and information sites were compared to other companies, the customer satisfaction benchmark lacked strength. On a benchmark scale from 0 to 100, these companies in aggregate rated 76. Internet News & Opinion companies averaged 74, and social media companies averaged 70.
While subscription television services came in with the lowest satisfaction rating of 65, breweries were rated the highest at 81.
Internet news and opinion sites mostly improved in customer experience in 2021 compared with 2020.
The benchmark ranged from the quality of mobile apps with a rating of 83 in 2021 -- up from 82 in 2020 -- to the number of ads on sites, which had a rating of 72 and 72, respectively.