Keeping it “personal” is the key to succeeding in the PC market

At first glance, the personal computer (PC) market has had a string of good news.

Following a steady score in 2018, customer satisfaction in PCs – including desktops, laptops, and tablets – rises 1.3% to an ACSI score of 78 (on a scale of 0 to 100), per our latest Household Appliance and Electronics Report.

While U.S. PC sales remain mostly flat, there was a slight gain in global demand for PCs in the second quarter in 2019, and the majority of PC customer experience benchmarks improved over the last year, with device design (82) and graphics and sound quality (81) leading the way.

Yet, the big picture doesn’t tell the whole story – not as far as customer value is concerned.

To truly understand what’s driving satisfaction in the PC industry, we need to look a little closer. We have to examine what customers say is important to them and which brands are actually listening. As you’ll see, to succeed in the personal computer market, you have to get, well, personal.

Not always by ‘design’

Consistent with previous reports, customers continue to be most satisfied with device design. And just like last year, Apple holds the highest mark for design and the highest score overall at 83.

Given the importance of device design, this may lead you to believe that manufacturers with the top design marks are also making the biggest gains. That’s not exactly the case.

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Toshiba had the lowest ACSI score in 2018. It also places in the bottom of the industry in device design this year. Yet, in 2019, Toshiba experienced the greatest jump in customer satisfaction among manufacturers, climbing 8% to 77. How is this possible? Toshiba listened to its consumers.

Last year, according to users, Toshiba’s models struggled with processor speed reliability, failing to keep crashes to a minimum. This year, it’s the exact opposite. Toshiba’s devices are faster and have had fewer crashes. And it’s not the only manufacturer to make necessary changes.

Dell fell 4% in 2018, with customers complaining about its unimpressive design. This year, Dell added a new top-mounted webcam and a new frost color option to its XPS 13 model. Its design score rose, as did its reliability marks. In turn, Dell’s overall ACSI score increased 5% to 77 this year.

Acer has been working to turn things around for the last few years. In 2019, customers took notice. The manufacturer improved in nearly every customer satisfaction benchmark and ultimately climbed 3% to an ACSI score of 77.

Step in the wrong direction

Despite a 3% drop in customer satisfaction 2018, ASUS still rested among the industry leaders. A year later, that’s no longer the case.

According to last year’s report, ASUS was targeting the higher end of the market, yet its main users – gamers – weren’t thrilled about the higher price point. Whatever ASUS did in the last year, it didn’t quell the concern of its customers.

Customer satisfaction in audio and visual quality and processor speed is also down, according to ASUS customers, and its overall score is down another 3% to 76 – ranking it second to last in the industry.

Meanwhile, things are even worse for Lenovo. Following a 1% bump last year, the manufacturer fell to the bottom of the industry at 74. Lenovo customers’ two biggest complaints center around processor speed and features like operating system and preloaded software. In 2018, the company was in the middle of the pack in each of those benchmarks. One year later, Lenovo is now at the bottom of the industry in both.

Stay true to your customers

Customer satisfaction in the PC market took a step in the right direction in 2019. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement – especially for certain manufacturers.

While features like design, graphics and sound quality, availability of software or apps, ease of operation, and website satisfaction score the highest marks among satisfaction benchmarks, scoring high in these categories doesn’t necessarily reflect high satisfaction marks overall.

The key to customer value is recognizing what matters most to your customers and working to improve those areas. Design quality is great if you’re Apple – it’s what your users expect. But for companies like Toshiba, Dell, and Acer, addressing concerns like reliability, speed, and frequent crashes is more relevant to their customer base.

Companies may hear the concerns of their customers but fail to listen and act upon those concerns. As we’ve seen, that can quickly sever any “personal” connection they once had.

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