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Customers’ Satisfaction: Majaps Up, PCs Down

Ann Arbor, Mich. — The major appliance industry scored a small increase in customer satisfaction this year, while computer industry fell by 2.6 percent, according to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The survey found overall customer satisfaction with major appliance vendors rose 1.2 percent for an overall score of 82 out of 100 for the 2007 second quarter, compared with the same period last year, while personal computers, overall, sank to 75.

Whirlpool gained the most, rising 2.4 percent for a score of 84 and AB Electrolux was up just over 1 percent for a score of 81. General Electric dropped about 1 percent to 81, and the remainder of the industry was flat, staying at 80 points.

The university surveyed 70,000 consumers for its annual index.

Dell’s 4.8 percent fall to 74 points came even though the company had heavily reinvested over the past two year to improve customer satisfaction, such as its Dell Connect program and hiring additional customer service representatives. Despite Apple’s drop, it still retained the highest customer-satisfaction score, with a 79. Claes Fornell, director of the National Quality Research Center at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, said Apple’s decline could be the result of the tremendous growth it has experienced over the past five years.

“Recent demand for Mac computers is up by about 25 percent, which is more than twice the rate of growth for the overall PC market. It is very difficult to ensure that both customer service and satisfaction stay high when a company suddenly needs to service many more customers,” he said.

Fornell commented that Dell’s situation is not surprising since, in his opinion, the company has only instituted quick fixes to repair its customer service segment. Dell topped the ACSI chart from 2000 to 2003.

Hewlett-Packard posted a 1.3 percent increase, giving it a score of 76, and Gateway continued the steady growth it has experienced over the past three years, hitting 75, up 2.4 percent.