ANN ARBOR, MICH.
— Customer satisfaction improved for major household appliances and is at or near all-time highs for personal computers and big-ticket consumer electronics such as televisions, according to a report released today by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Amid recent news of weak durable-goods growth and the continued uncertainty of the housing market, the ACSI results may provide a glimmer of hope for future demand for these durable products.
Satisfaction with personal computers surged 4 percent to match the all-time industry high of 78 on the ACSI’s 0 to100-point scale. Apple gained 2 percent to 86, its highest score ever. This marks the seventh straight year that Apple leads all other PC makers, and the 9-point gap between Apple and its nearest competitor is the largest in ACSI.
Many Windows-based machines also improved and no brand declined. Dell improves 3 percent, while Acer (Gateway and eMachines) and the HP division of Hewlett-Packard both rose 4 percent, forming a threeway tie at 77. These companies are joined by the aggregate of all smaller PC makers, such as Sony and Toshiba, which gained 4 percent to 77.
“Windows-based PC brands appear to have recovered from the problems associated with the Windows Vista software,” said Fornell. “Barely a year into the release of Windows 7, satisfaction with these brands has returned to, and in some cases even surpassed, the levels prior to the launch of Vista.”
PC makers have benefited overall from better customer service, although this service continues to lag far behind other durable-goods industries. PC owners who had reason to contact customer support are 8 percent less satisfied than those with no post-purchase contact with the manufacturer or retailer.
Customer satisfaction with major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and washers and dryers improves 1.2 percent to 82, matching a 10-year high.
Whirlpool is atop the industry, unchanged at 83. 2010 marks the fifteenth year in a row that Whirlpool has had at least a share of the industry lead.
GE closed the gap with Whirlpool, gaining 5 percent to 81 and rebounding from a big drop last year. GE’s climb ties the manufacturer with the aggregate of all smaller appliance makers, which improved 3 percent to 81. Electrolux rounds out the industry, unchanged at 79 and matching a five-year low.
Satisfaction with home electronics such as televisions and DVD or Blu-ray Disc players increased 2.4 percent to 85, the best-ever score for the category and the highest level of customer satisfaction for any ACSI industry thus far in 2010.
Greater affordability has made these products more attractive. For the first time, prices for some flat-screen TVs have fallen to less than $500. Prices for DVD and BD players have dropped as well, translating into better value for money, with a positive effect on customer satisfaction.
The ACSI surveys of these three categories are done annually and were done this year between April and June, a spokesperson said. ACSI is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States.