August 19, 2008, 12:00 AM

Google soars while Yahoo slips in consumer satisfaction survey

Satisfaction with Google jumped 10% over last year as the search giant registered a score of 86, the highest score ever for a service company in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Yahoo slipped 3% to 77 and Microsoft’s MSN held steady at 75.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Satisfaction with Google jumped 10% over last year, as the search giant registered a score of 86 out of 100, the highest score ever for a service company in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, a survey produced by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Rival Yahoo slipped 3% to 77 and Microsoft’s MSN held steady at 75.

“It’s a changing marketplace and consumers are using the internet differently than they used to,” says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, a specialist in measuring online customer satisfaction and sponsor of the ACSI e-commerce and e-business surveys. “People are starting to go directly to the website or use bookmarks if they know what they’re looking for, rather than using a portal. And if they don’t know where to find it, they’re going to use a search engine. Google is best positioned to take advantage of this trend, while the rest are struggling to maintain relevancy.”

Consumer satisfaction with e-business-which ACSI defines as search engines, web portals and online news and information sites-increased 6% to 79.3 in the second quarter. Consumer satisfaction overall, which includes consumer views of more than 200 offline as well as online companies, slipped a tenth of a percent in the second quarter to 75.2.

“The increase in overall e-business satisfaction is driven largely by a remarkable jump by Google, but tough economic conditions may be contributing to greater satisfaction with the sector,” says Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan. “In an environment where dollars are tight and gas is $4 a gallon, consumers derive great satisfaction from services that don`t require them to spend money or get in their car."

Online retailing, which ACSI measures annually in the fourth quarter, scored 83 in the most recent survey. Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, led the way at 88.

In the ACSI survey of Q2 consumer satisfaction with personal computer manufacturers, Apple registered an 8% increase to a score of 85. While Dell managed a 1% increase to 75, ACSI analysts noted that three other brands of Windows-based PCs-Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and Compaq-all declined 4% in the survey. H-P scored 73, Gateway 72 and Compaq, which is owned by H-P, 70. An ACSI analysis says consumers exposed to Apple products like the iPod and iPhone may be buying Apple personal computers in growing numbers.

Apple is No. 7 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, Dell No. 4, H-P No. 5 and Gateway No. 86. Sean McDonald, director, Global Online, at Dell spoke in June at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition and his audio-visual presentation at IRCE 2008 is available on CD-ROM.

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