July 20, 2010, 3:13 PM

Users aren’t satisfied with Facebook

The site scored in the bottom 5% of all private sector companies in customer satisfaction.

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Despite passing more than 500 million users this week, Facebook fails to deliver when it comes to customer satisfaction. The social networking giant scored a 64 on the newest American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 100-point scale, Foresee Results Inc. reported today.

That score puts its satisfaction in the bottom 5% of all measured private sector companies and in the same range as airlines and cable companies, two perennially low-scoring industries with poor customer satisfaction ratings.

The Index is on a 100-point scale. Scores of 80 or higher are generally considered excellent and those less than 70 are considered mediocre.

“Because of Facebook’s success, its score was surprising,” says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results.

However, Freed has a three-pronged theory as to what contributed to the low score. Freed points to consumers’ privacy concerns with the social network, as many users expressed their uncertainty over how Facebook is using the information posted on the site. Consumers also expressed frustration with frequent changes to the site’s interface. And Facebook users may be annoyed with the increased presence of advertising on the site.

“Facebook’s issues are due to customer expectations—longtime Facebook users expect Facebook to remain how it was when they signed up,” says Freed. “But that wasn’t a viable model. It makes sense for Facebook to have a monetization strategy, it doesn’t make sense for it to be free. But consumers don’t like it when things change.”

Even though consumers are not satisfied with Facebook, consumers are continuing to flock to the site. But if Facebook doesn’t improve, or a viable alternative emerges, that may change, says Freed.

ForeSee also reported that Google Inc.’s search engine earned a score of 80, a six-point drop from 2009. Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine had a score of 77. This was the first year ForeSee measured Bing.

Bing’s emergence may have contributed to Google’s score, says Freed. “If you know nothing better you’re generally happy with what you have,” he says. “But if you see something compelling elsewhere you might start to be less satisfied. For some consumers, Bing might be offering a compelling alternative.”

That’s particularly relevant since ForeSee found that many consumers are using multiple search engines. 56% of self-described Bing users said they have used Google in the past month and 30% of Google users said they have used Bing. “When you customers try something else, they better understand what else is out there which may leave them wanting more,” says Freed.

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