Here’s what 7,720 customers want from their PCs

The best way to describe customer satisfaction with PCs? Steady as she goes.

Following a 1.3% bump last year, satisfaction with personal computers – including desktops, laptops, and tablets – sits unchanged at 78 (out of 100), according to our most recent Household Appliance and Electronics Report.

This isn’t unusual within the industry. Since 2010, user satisfaction with PCs has been relatively stable, averaging an ACSI score of 78.

Another aspect of the overall PC experience that hasn’t changed much over the past three years: Desktop computer users (80) continue to be more satisfied than users of tablets (78) and laptops (77).

But the data goes deeper into the various aspects of each and what consumers are most satisfied with. For the first time, we broke down the elements of customer experience by device type.

What do 7,720 customers really want from their PCs? Let’s take a look.

Tablets have the “look”

All three devices received their highest overall scores for design. According to PC users, tablets lead the competition with an ACSI score of 84. But it’s not exactly a runaway.

Desktops are right on their heels at 83. Laptops aren’t too far off either with a mark of 81.

But while users generally like the looks of their devices, it’s what’s inside that counts, and that’s where the scores start to diverge.

Desktops have superior performance

Desktops and tablets are tied at the top in three categories: graphics and sound quality (82), ease of operation (82), and availability of accessories (81).

But, for the most part, desktop users are more satisfied in terms of performance.

Desktops (82) easily best tablets (80) and laptops (79) in satisfaction with the availability of software or apps. For processor speed, desktops (81) are ahead again of tablets (78) and laptops (77). While the margin is closer, desktop consumers report they experience crashes less frequently (81) than users of tablets (80) and laptops (78) do.

As far as features – including operating system, preloaded software or apps, memory, and data storage – desktops lead the way as well, besting both tablets and laptops with an ACSI score of 81.

Laptops leave much to be desired

Sixty-four percent of the interview pool for the Household Appliance and Electronics Report consisted of laptop users. Yet, based on their responses, laptops don’t perform nearly as well as the other devices in, well, everything.

Outside of design, laptops don’t crack 80 in any of the customer experience benchmarks.

While desktops and tablets tie for graphics and sound quality (82), laptops lag at 79. When the competition scores 81 each for the availability of accessories, laptops again fall short at 79. And, when desktop and tablet users give the devices 82 a piece for ease of operation, laptops miss the mark once more with a score of 79.

Laptops are the device of choice, according to our latest report. With more people than ever before needing mobile devices to work and learn from home, many more consumers are turning to laptops. But if these devices can’t get the job done, that feeling could change.

All of these scores demonstrate room for improvement in laptops and provide an opportunity for manufacturers to turn things around. A focused improvement in any one area could improve users’ perceptions and overall satisfaction.

Luxury vehicles losing luster in customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction in the automobile industry has fallen again, though the decline was not as steep as last year. But if automakers think this is cause for celebration, they might want to pump the brakes.

After a 3.7% drop a year ago, with 21 of 27 nameplates recording ACSI declines, the industry sinks another 1.3% in 2020 to a score of 78 (out of 100), according to our most recent Automobile Report.

While only 17 brands incurred worse satisfaction scores this year, automobiles and light vehicles slump to an industry low that hasn’t been seen since 1999. And it’s luxury vehicles that need a tune-up most of all.

Slumping satisfaction across the whole luxury segment

In 2019, six luxury nameplates took a hit in driver satisfaction, and the segment fell just 1% overall to a score of 82. This year, things are much worse.

Luxury cars backtrack 4% overall to an ACSI score of 79. And no one was impervious to the fallout. All nine nameplates suffer worsening driver satisfaction year over year

Lexus, which leads the luxury segment and the auto industry for the fourth straight year, falls 2% to an ACSI score of 82 – its lowest score ever.

Mercedes Benz (80) and Infiniti (79) each slip 4%. BMW and Volvo both take significant knocks as well, dropping 5% each to 78, while last-place Lincoln falters 6% to an all-time low score of 77.

What’s even more interesting is that the gap between luxury and mass-market vehicles has all but disappeared.

Advantage over mass-market vehicles is shrinking

The luxury segment’s customer satisfaction long-time advantage over mass-market vehicles has narrowed considerably.

From 2008 to 2012, luxury cars led mass-market vehicles by an average of 4 points for driver satisfaction. That gap has shrunk to just 2 points in 2020, as customer satisfaction with mass-market vehicles dips just 1% to a score of 77.

In terms of the overall driver experience, the luxury segment sees declines pretty much across the board. And in many instances, the luxury vehicles benchmarks are now just above – or even equal to – those in the mass-market segment.

For example, in dropping 3% to 83 for driving performance, luxury vehicles now hold just a 1-point advantage over mass-market cars (82). The same goes for vehicle safety, with luxury vehicles down 2% to 83, just a single point ahead of the mass-market segment (82). Mass-market vehicles are also just 1 point behind luxury vehicles for mobile app quality (81 to 82), mobile app reliability (80 to 81), website satisfaction (81 to 82), and gas mileage (76 to 77).

Furthermore, luxury cars are no longer considered as dependable as they once were. Thanks to a 2% slide to 82, that benchmark is now the same as mass-market vehicles.

Problematic pattern of declines

Following the arrival of COVID-19, U.S. automobile industry sales took a huge hit in Q2 of 2020. While they rebounded a bit in July as the country started reopening, it doesn’t change the fact that the industry was hit hard and must still contend with a problematic, pre-existing period of customer satisfaction declines.

Although the luxury vehicle segment still outpaces its mass-market counterpart by wide margins in areas like comfort (84 to 81), interior (84 to 81), technology (82 to 78), and warranties (80 to 76), the overall gap in driver satisfaction is the smallest it’s been in years. Luxury doesn’t have the same luster it once did.

Social Media Spotlight: Why Facebook continues to miss the mark with users

The social media industry mirrored the overall e-business segment during COVID-19, experiencing foundering customer satisfaction despite surges in usage.

This continues a long-running trend.

Despite 79% of the American population having a social media profile as of 2019 – up 2% from the year before – customer satisfaction with social media slides 2.8% overall to a score of 70, according to our most recent E-Business Report. That mark puts social media among the bottom five of all ACSI-measured industries.

If this weren’t bad enough, social media has another problem: the sizeable gap between the first and last place individual platforms. Even with a 4% dip year over year, Pinterest (77) remains 13 points ahead of Facebook (up 2% to 64).

Facebook has its problems with privacy and advertising, among many controversies. But those aren’t the only reasons it continuously lags at the bottom of the social media industry. There are plenty of other reasons why customers aren’t satisfied.

Advertisements and privacy: An ongoing struggle

Users feel that the amount of advertising on social media sites improved slightly over the past year, rising 1.5% to 69. They also feel that privacy has gotten a tad worse, dipping 1.4% to the same score of 69.

Although these two customer experience benchmarks have inched in opposite directions lately, they remain the most dissatisfying aspects of social media overall. And Facebook scores the worst in both areas – by a wide margin.

With a score of 60 for advertisements, Facebook is six points worse than the next closet platform, Tumblr. It trails leaders Wikipedia and Pinterest by 15 points.

Facebook scores even worse in privacy, at 58. That’s 11 points below the industry average and 20 points less than top scoring Pinterest. Its closest competition is Twitter. However, there’s a 10-point gap between the two.

A content crisis

While not on the same level as advertisements and privacy, the freshness (73) and relevance (71) of content are also growing concerns among social media users. Facebook struggled mightily in these areas as well.

For content freshness, the social media site scored 66, seven points below the industry average. The next closet platform was Tumblr with a score of 69. Pinterest topped the category once again a full 10 points higher.

In terms of content relevance, Facebook scored much worse than its closest competitor, LinkedIn, with the former posting 63 and the latter 69. Who took top marks? You guessed it: Pinterest.

Mobile improvements aren’t enough

Social media users agree that mobile app performance remains the best aspect of the user experience. Mobile app quality ranks the highest, up 1.3% to 81. Mobile app reliability trails slightly but is still up 1.3% to 79.

Facebook progresses in both areas. However, it scores five points below the industry average and 10 points behind the leader.

Here are the facts: Customer satisfaction with Facebook climbed 2% year over year to a score of 64. But even with this jump, it can’t escape the bottom of both social media and the e-business category overall, proving that while advertisements and privacy issues are the main culprits, the social media giant has much more to fix if it hopes to turn around its customer satisfaction woes.

How do boycotts impact customer satisfaction? The answer might surprise you

Not too long ago, we were discussing how everything in our lives feels like it’s politicized. At the time, we were talking about satisfaction in federal government services. This time, the topic is different: Boycotts.

The recent call to boycott Goya Foods after the CEO’s public endorsement of President Trump has people on both ends of the political spectrum picking sides. But, while this latest call for action will likely have ramifications, what will those effects be? How do boycotts impact customer satisfaction?

We decided to look at the data and see for ourselves.

Calls for boycott vs. customer satisfaction scores

We looked at several high-profile calls for boycotting in recent years and examined the subsequent customer satisfaction scores for the companies involved.

Take Nike, for example. In 2018, the company named Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its “Just Do It” campaign to commemorate the slogan’s 30th anniversary. While many responded to this decision by burning their Nike apparel and calling for a boycott, the company’s ACSI score climbed 5% to 81 – a near record high for the brand.

The same thing happened to Home Depot. Last year when shoppers railed against the company after cofounder Bernie Marcus said he planned to donate to President Trump’s reelection campaign, Home Depot’s ACSI score didn’t drop. It climbed 2.6% to an ACSI score of 78 – the only specialty retailer to improve considerably.

Despite repeated controversies from founder John Schnatter, Papa John’s managed to weather the storm from a customer satisfaction perspective, holding steady between 2018 and 2019 with an ACSI score of 80. At the time, Papa John’s remained tied for the lead in the pizza segment.

A public outcry to boycott a company might seem like it would have an adverse effect on customer satisfaction. But that hasn’t been the case. Yet, even if it were, it’s not something that would be reflected in ACSI measurements.

Why boycotts have no bearing on ACSI scores

The reason is boycotts aren’t factored into ACSI scores isn’t complicated: ACSI only measures consumers who purchase a service or product; it’s not interested in those who don’t.

ACSI scores reflect customers’ personal experience with the products, level of quality and service, and overall experience these companies provide, not the emotional reaction associated with customers’ opinions on the political or social perspectives of the company’s leaders or spokespeople.

For instance, during the #BoycottHomeDepot movement, the company improved in nearly every customer experience benchmark, including layout, store speed, variety, courtesy, discount, and inventory. Nike’s biggest issue – from an ACSI standpoint – at the time of the Kaepernick situation was pricing. The company ranked worst in class for value.

In both cases, ACSI scores were directly tied to the quality and value of services and products being experienced, not the feelings of individuals who didn’t use the services and goods for social reasons.

However, while boycotts might not be reflected in ACSI scores, companies can feel the effects just the same.

Brand reputation and the bottom line

Nike’s position turned out to be fruitful for the company’s bottom line. According to data from Edison Trends, online sales jumped 31% in the immediate period following the Kaepernick announcement.

With Home Depot, any potential boycott that may have occurred had seemingly no effect on the company’s revenue.

On the other hand, Papa John’s experienced the opposite. In July 2019, same-store sales fell 10.5% in North America. On the earnings call, executives blamed Schnatter’s controversial comments, and CEO Steve Richie noted that the company needed to move away from a “founder-centric marketing plan.”

Customer satisfaction might not be impacted by social stance, but an organization’s revenue, loyalty, and public perception certainly can be.

What’s important to your customer?

Boycotts don’t negatively impact customer satisfaction; customer-facing elements like product quality, variety, store speed, mobile app reliability, and customer service do. But that doesn’t mean companies can afford to look past calls for boycotts, either.

Organizations must keep customers top of mind — what they want from a product or service, and their expectations for the social positions of companies they buy from.

Both areas influence company reputation, both play a role in public perception, and both can impact whether a customer buys from a brand in the future.

ACSI partners with Microsoft to provide customer satisfaction analysis via Customer Voice and Microsoft Dynamics 365

During yesterday’s Microsoft Inspire partner network event, we unveiled new ACSI do-it-yourself CX tools, called ACSI Analytics, developed for Microsoft Dynamics 365. This offering will enable companies to access Microsoft’s powerful new Customer Voice templates and capture the customer experience at any level of the organization.

With ACSI Analytics, companies will be able to benchmark their performance – and identify competitive advantages and disadvantages – on a full array of customer experience metrics against the most competitive companies in the United States across dozens of industries and economic sectors.

The ACSI simulator will also allow users to obtain real-time outputs from ACSI’s dynamic cause-and-effect analytics, utilizing a continuously updated simulator to identify what customers like and dislike. This information provides intelligence on the kind of improvements that will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction, customer retention, and a company’s financial results.

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How you can use ACSI Analytics on Microsoft’s Customer Voice and Microsoft Dynamics 365

ACSI Analytics utilizes insightful survey questions to glean information from the most important judge of every company’s products and services – the customer – through Microsoft’s easy-to-use Customer Voice survey platform templates. Once the Microsoft Dynamics 365 user chooses to complete their project through the Customer Voice platform using ACSI Analytics, the journey to gaining an unrivaled understanding of your customer relationships begins.

Engaging with the ACSI via Microsoft’s Customer Voice and ACSI Analytics will allow the user to access a database of rigorously tested and widely adopted survey items, including ACSI’s world-leading framework of customer satisfaction questions. Additional metrics tap into customer expectations and experiences throughout the various stages of the customer journey, letting Microsoft Dynamics 365 users select those most relevant to their unique customer base.

The ACSI data collected in Customer Voice are integrated into ACSI Analytics metrics, constructs that combine multiple survey items to measure customer experiences and performance accurately and reliably, determining if customers’ wants and needs are met throughout their journey. The patented ACSI prediction simulator provides a snapshot of the lifetime value of a company’s customer assets, the profits the company can expect to reap from customers with current levels of performance on the CX metrics, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.

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Beyond benchmarking and obtaining ACSI data

But benchmarking and comparison alone are not enough. With ACSI Analytics, a company can take the critical next steps from identifying how it’s performing relative to industry leaders, to deciding where to focus its improvement efforts. What changes will have the biggest impact on improving customer satisfaction, and through it, customer loyalty?

Most importantly, what impact will these improvements have on the value of customer assets? The ACSI Analytics prediction simulator can answer these questions and more, helping to launch a company’s business into a new phase of customer-centric growth.

While billions have been invested in do-it-yourself CX platforms and Artificial Intelligence over the past decade, the complexity and inaccessibility of these systems have led to inconsistent results for many companies. With ACSI Analytics and Microsoft Dynamics 365, the promise of better customer relationships and improved financial performance can become reality for every company.

To learn more about ACSI Analytics on the Microsoft Customer Voice and Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform and how you can get started, visit www.theacsi.org/acsi-analytics-solution.

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Here’s why customer satisfaction needs to be on the top of every business’ to-do list

How do you meet normal customer expectations when the world’s been reduced to anything but normal? Companies have been searching for the answer to this question (among others) since the arrival of COVID-19.

But the answer is the same as it’s always been. You can have an incredible product, the best employees, stand-out marketing, few competitors, and still fail if you lose sight of the most important part of your business: your customer.

Customer satisfaction must be the target you aim for. You can make a lot of mistakes and face a lot of hardship and still emerge successful as long as you’re devoted to meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

Even in a global pandemic, customer satisfaction should be at the heart of your strategy. Here’s why now is the perfect time to reassess and prioritize customer satisfaction.

The virtuous cycle of customer satisfaction

If your customers are happy, they’re often more loyal. If they’re more loyal, they’re more likely to continue using your products or services. This is the virtuous cycle customer satisfaction sets in motion and why it’s so important to your strategy.

Even when service can’t function as it usually does. We saw this as the pandemic began and many restaurants had to close their doors, limiting their service to takeout. Yet loyal customers kept showing up to support their favorite businesses.

Still, these are trying times for many businesses, and while you might have been focused on the customer before the pandemic, now many organizations are struggling to keep the lights on and their team employed. Some may argue they don’t have the time or resources to put into customer satisfaction initiatives or campaigns. Not to mention that the way they previously served customers has been transformed.

The way you achieve customer satisfaction today might not be the way you achieved it last year. But customer satisfaction should still be the north star of your strategy and guide any pivot or transformation you need to get there.

Listen, learn, and prioritize the right things

Prioritizing customer satisfaction means understanding, meeting, and exceeding customer needs. Start by listening. Survey your customers, talk to them. Encourage direct customer feedback and monitor social media chatter. Find out what they’re really interested in and why. Show your customers that you care about their needs. Let them know that you’re there for them now and after the pandemic.

The insights gleaned from these conversations will leave you in a better position to incorporate changes into your overall business strategy. That could be improving the functionality and reliability of your website and mobile app. It might be reassessing customer service, especially for critical services right now like broadband internet. It could mean enhancing the quality of a product or offering more variety, without raising the price.

In addition to making sure your customers’ needs are met, don’t forget about your own employees. You must take care of them as well. Offer them support, provide them with a safe work environment, give them reasons to want to come to work. If your employees have a better experience, your customers will too.

Which companies are prioritizing customer satisfaction?

The current economic situation, for all its hardships, is also an opportunity. Some organizations – and industries – are seizing it, driven by their pursuit of customer satisfaction.

Since the onset of stay-at-home orders, there’s been a major uptick in the use of streaming services. And while Netflix has been dominating this arena for quite some time, Disney+ appealed to consumers’ desire for original content by debuting “Hamilton.” This resulted in a 74% increase in Disney+ app downloads in the United States compared to the average four weekends in June, according to Apptopia.

After online grocery sales grew as much as fivefold during the height of the pandemic lockdowns, retailers are responding. Walmart is taking aim at Amazon Prime’s delivery empire by announcing it will launch its own membership service, Walmart+, in July. While there’s an annual membership fee, the perks are expected to directly address customer needs, from reserved grocery delivery slots and unlimited same-day grocery delivery to gas discounts and allowing in-store customers to check out without waiting in line.

CVS is also getting into the delivery game by partnering with DoorDash to deliver non-prescription items in select cities. The expansion of no-contact deliveries and as well as not requiring pre-scheduled delivery slots alleviate customer concerns about in-store shopping and frustrations with overbooked grocery delivery services.

And, of course, even as more and more restaurants begin welcoming customers back to the storefront, they refuse to turn their backs on services that have become even more prevalent during the pandemic. Contactless delivery and curbside pickup won’t just disappear.

These are just a few examples. However, they’re an indication that many companies are pivoting to meet the needs of their customers despite a pandemic that changed business models practically overnight.

Putting the customer first

At some point – who knows when – we’re going to come out on the other side of COVID-19. And when that time comes, the companies that figure out how to put the customer first are going to thrive.

Even in trying times, customer satisfaction should be a guiding benchmark. By measuring, monitoring, and listening to what consumers want, then implementing improvements to fit those needs, businesses can find new life and jump start the cycle of satisfaction and loyalty that drives the most successful businesses.

Why limited-service chains were better positioned for the pandemic than full-service restaurants

The restaurant industry is facing unsettling times.

Customer satisfaction with full-service and limited-service restaurants dropped 2.5% and 1.3% respectively this year, and the Accommodation and Food Services sector overall diminished 1.3% to a score of 77.9 (out of 100), per our most recent Restaurant Report.

This was all before COVID-19. Now, the situation is even more dire.

From March to May 2020, the industry lost $120 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association. This figure could double by the end of the year.

Yet, while sit-down chains remain slightly ahead of fast food restaurants (79 to 78) from a customer satisfaction standpoint, this might not be the case next year.

The delivery paradox

Since COVID-19, takeout and delivery options have become a full-blown necessity. But customers were turning to delivery even before the pandemic arrived, and full-service restaurants have been trying to adapt. By mid-2019, nearly four in five brands used an online ordering platform.

Unfortunately, online ordering from full-service restaurants hadn’t caught on before the pandemic hit.

According to our survey, completed between April 2019 and March 2020, 92% of respondents reported dining in at sit-down establishments, compared to 6% ordering carryout and 2% choosing delivery. Furthermore, customers are more satisfied when dining in (78) at full-service restaurants than getting takeout (75) or delivery (77).

When customers were forced to choose between takeout and delivery, full-service restaurants’ apps might not have lived up to expectations. While diners agree that overall quality of mobile apps from full-service restaurants is better than those of fast-food chains (85 to 81), the reliability of those apps tells a different story.

Although the segments share the same score for mobile app reliability (81), full-service chains plummeted 6% while fast-food chains improved. As our data consistently show, the more satisfied customers are, the more willing they are to increase their restaurant spending in the future.

Many fast food restaurants had the technology and the habits in place before the pandemic. Subway, whose overall score remained unchanged overall, had the top-rated mobile app for quality. This is good news in its efforts to adapt to consumer preferences, especially after the company closed more than 1,000 U.S. locations in 2019.

Domino’s is reaping the rewards of having its own digital platform for ordering and delivery. The new pizza segment leader, at an ACSI score of 79, earned 70% of its total U.S. sales in 2019 via digital. It also boasts a database of over 85 million customers.

If full-service restaurants can’t follow suit to fulfill customer’s delivery needs during the pandemic, they may struggle to regain trust down the road.

Takeout troubles

Takeout is the bread and butter for fast-food chains. Nearly 70% of their business comes from drive-thru lanes, which are built for quick, contactless meal distribution.

Without drive-thru in their arsenal, full-service restaurants have been trying alternative takeout methods. Unfortunately, save for Applebee’s, many full-service restaurants didn’t have designated curbside pickup programs in place prior to the pandemic.

Some were unprepared for the influx of orders. TGI Friday’s had to convert its headquarters into a call center because it lacked a sufficient number of phone lines to handle demand.

On top of that, many customers have been less satisfied with full-service restaurants in many of the customer experience benchmarks that apply to both dining in and takeout. The courtesy and helpfulness of staff was down 3.4% to 84, and the speed in which food is received was down 2.4% to 80.

Full-service has no time to waste

The full-service restaurant industry was having trouble before COVID-19. But the pandemic may have exacerbated the segment’s shortcomings, from its falling mobile app reliability to its relative lack of experience with takeout and delivery.

Customer satisfaction with limited-service chains was also deteriorating, but these chains are built for contactless delivery and pickup.

Even as restaurants open for in-person dining, the need to adhere to social distancing guidelines and other safety precautions will make it so the dining-in experience will never be the same. This will make efficient delivery and takeout even more critical.

The writing’s been on the wall for the restaurant industry for a while now. Those that truly embrace the power of digital for delivery and takeout are more likely to weather the storm.

Securing better in-home Wi-Fi: Why ISPs have an opportunity in the hardware department

Internet service providers (ISPs) are at the bottom no more.

A year after tying for the lowest score in the American Customer Satisfaction (ACSI) rankings, customer satisfaction with ISPs soared 4.8% to a score of 65 (on a scale of 0 to 100), according to our most recent Telecommunications Report.

Eight of 11 providers improved. Verizon’s Fios led the industry with a 4% jump to 73, while Comcast’s Xfinity made the biggest leap, moving into third place with an 8% surge to 66 – and almost every facet of the customer experience improved compared to last year.

That’s the good news. The bad news?

ISPs, which have historically ranked low on the ACSI scale, only climbed into second-to-last place, and except for mobile app quality (79) and reliability (77), most benchmark scores remain low, ranging from the upper 60s to the lower 70s.

The data are a blueprint for how ISPs can address a pressing customer need right now. The question is, will they use it?

ISP-provided equipment is no match for hardware from third parties

For the first time, we measured the in-home Wi-Fi experience, comparing customers’ experience with ISP-provided equipment with those who use third-party equipment.

For the most part, it was no contest.

While ACSI scores for Wi-Fi security were comparable (75 for third parties versus 74 for ISPs), customers using third-party equipment were far more satisfied across the board.

They were happier with the range (75 versus 72 for ISPs), reliability of service (75 versus 71 for ISPs), how quickly equipment restarted (74 versus 69 for ISPs), and most notably, cost (72 versus 66 for ISPs).

This is hardly unexpected. After all, equipment is the bread and butter for these third-party companies.

However, if there was ever a time for ISPs to put resources into improving in-home equipment, it’s now.

Quality in-home Wi-Fi has never been more important

In-home high-speed internet service, once deemed a luxury, is now in nearly three-quarters of American households. But it’s often taken for granted.

That changed when COVID-19 relegated workers and students to their homes, switching quality high-speed in-home internet from a luxury to a necessity. ISPs have room to grow in this area as well.

This year, we also measured overall Wi-Fi quality for the first time. We based the scores on seven benchmarks: security, multiple device connections, range, avoiding service loss, service restart, upload/download speed, and price paid.

Verizon Fios had the highest score overall (77) but was the only ISP to outperform the top third-party leaders, Netgear and TP-Link, both at 75. LinkSys (73) outpaced the remaining ISPs as well, while Xfinity (72) was the only other ISP to beat a third-party company, narrowly besting ASUS (71).

Although the numbers don’t bode well for ISPs, there are bright spots. For example, ISP customers were happier with the variety of available internet plans this year, and they found internet service more reliable.

If ISPs can make progress in those areas, then there’s no reason why they can’t make similar gains in the hardware department by offering more reasonable equipment rental prices and improving the reliability of in-home Wi-Fi.

It starts at home

ISPs are no longer resigned to the cellar of the ACSI rankings. They’re not exactly a fan favorite, either.

But, with more people working from home, more students studying from home, and more people simply forced to be home, they’re going to require – and expect – a reliable in-home connection like never before.

ISPs shouldn’t expect to wipe away years of customer satisfaction woes overnight by solely improving the equipment they provide. But it’s an opening that could slowly bridge the gap. Will they take it?

Cell phone manufacturers hit all-time high for customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction with cell phones has grown steadily over the past 15 years. During that time, the industry’s made a 16% net gain.

That upward trend continued throughout 2019 and in the early parts of 2020. Although global cell phone sales dropped 1% in 2019 and the pandemic hasn’t helped in 2020, customers have never been more pleased with their cellphones.

Per our most recent Wireless Service and Cellular Telephone Report, customer satisfaction with the industry improved 1.3% to an all-time high of 80, and most of the manufacturers showed gains.

Apple surged to the top spot in the category with a 1% jump to 82. LG also improved, climbing 1% to 79. Even the group of smaller manufacturers rose 4% to a score of 75.

The key to this success? Making incremental improvements across the board.

Focusing on multiple areas pays off

The industry scored well across almost every element of the customer experience last year, but this year it did even better.

Cell phone users agreed that their devices were better in most ways. While the ease of texting (85) and calling (84), and phone design (84) remained steady and enjoyable for customers, websites climbed 2% to 84.

And it didn’t stop there. Customers were increasingly pleased with the operating systems and software (up 2% to 83) and found navigating menus and settings much easier (up 2% to 83). Phone features (up 1% to 83), video quality (up 1% to 83), and audio quality (up 2% to 82) were all better. And, while battery life still sits at the bottom of the customer experience benchmarks, it’s no longer a glaring weakness after climbing 3% to a score of 80.

Cell phone manufacturers showed the power of improving multiple areas. Apple, which consistently gets chastised for poor battery life, took that criticism to heart and made serious improvements with the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. But Apple didn’t stop with the battery – it also enhanced the camera system, displays, and processors. And folks took notice.

Apple customers were happier with their device’s battery life, audio quality, and video quality, as well as ease of using the operating system and navigating menus and settings.

LG customers were also more satisfied this year. They found texting and navigation easier compared to last year, along with more phone feature varieties, and better audio and video quality, which has become a staple of LG phones.

The smaller group of cell phone manufacturers made customers happier in nearly every aspect, including improving battery life and making texting and calling easier.

As effective as this strategy proved to be, it wasn’t adopted by everyone in the industry.

Motorola misses the mark

While cell phone users have never been happier with their devices, Lenovo’s Motorola customers were the exception.

The manufacturer fell to fourth place as satisfaction plummeted 4% to score of 77.

Not a single customer experience benchmark improved year over year. In fact, they all decreased – with significant falls in terms of battery life satisfaction and ease of calling and texting. Putting so much emphasis on the design element (flip phones, anyone?) was clearly not an ideal strategy.

Motorola has work to do in the eyes of its customers. The good news is its competitors have shown the way.

There’s no silver bullet to customer satisfaction success

Cell phone manufacturers reached an all-time customer satisfaction high score because they didn’t just focus on one element – they looked at the entire user experience. Users care about battery life and phone design, but they also care about what these products were made for in the first place (i.e., calling and texting). All of these elements need attention.

For the most part, manufacturers saw what their customers wanted — all of it — and made concerted efforts to improve. And, according to the data, they succeeded.

2 opportunities for Quibi, HBO Max, and Peacock to compete with Netflix and Hulu

There’s an insatiable appetite for streaming – especially now.

According to a recent Nielsen report, Americans streamed 85% more minutes of video in March 2020 than they did in March 2019. During the last week in March, Netflix owned the largest share of streaming minutes at 29%, followed by YouTube (20%), Hulu (10%), and Amazon (9%).

New streamers are also entering the space, even in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Quibi, the short form, mobile-only video platform, launched April 6 and had 1.7 million downloads in its first week. HBO Max remains on schedule for its May release. Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, soft launched on April 15 and is still committed to its July 15 national rollout.

These new entrants are jumping into a competitive streaming service industry, where customers are already relatively satisfied with existing options and features, according to our data.

So where are the opportunities for streaming companies – especially the new entrants – to stand out from an increasingly crowded pack? And more importantly, what do viewers want more of from their streaming services?

Here are two ways streaming services can get in with the binge watchers of the world.

More current offerings, please

Customers like what they’re getting from streaming providers. According to our data, they’re satisfied with the number of TV shows (scoring 76 on a 0-100 scale), the variety of TV shows and movies (both 75), the availability of the past season’s TV shows (74), and the number of movies (74).

So, what’s missing from the queue? Current programming.

When it comes to the availability of the current season’s TV programs and new movie titles, today’s streamers have room for improvement. The former has an Index score of 72, while the latter sits at the bottom of the industry at 70.

By offering customers the latest and greatest of film and television, new players can distinguish themselves.

Keep the original content flowing

Customers appreciate originality.

Over the last year, customer satisfaction with the quality of original content has climbed 3% to a score of 76. And no streamer offers original content like Netflix.

Not only did Netflix top all streaming services in satisfaction with its original content, but it has no intention of slowing down. Analysts predict the streaming giant will spend $17.3 billion on original content in 2020 alone.

Although other streamers like Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube are producing original work, there’s a legitimate gap between Netflix and the rest.

While Peacock’s original content may be a bit delayed due to the coronavirus, other incoming streaming services can fill the void – even Quibi, whose shorter content might be a nice change of pace if you’re looking to sneak in a quick episode before bedtime, while cooking dinner, or during a lunch break.

Are you still watching?

The current situation has accelerated a trend that’s been happening for the past two years, with more consumers cutting the cord than ever before.

This is not going to change anytime soon. In fact, analysts predict that the adverse economic and social implications brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak is only going to speed up the process.

The streaming industry is a crowded space. Established players already have a leg up on the competition, but the race isn’t over yet. There’s plenty of opportunity to make up some ground. New competitors would be wise not to let it pass them by.

Stay tuned for our newest Telecommunications Report, coming in June, for more details on how streaming industry players are faring.