The Social Media Experience: Dislike

With no end in sight to the social media explosion, high-profile players in the industry are counting their user bases—and their revenue streams—looking for a ways to increase both. ACSI’s July 2012 results show that the industry as a whole is missing the boat on one critical factor: the customer experience.

Social media earns an ACSI score of 69 in 2012—the lowest score among three e-business categories and near the bottom of the Index overall. In contrast, user satisfaction with portals & search engines is 79, while the news & information category scores 73.

Generally speaking, the road to higher user satisfaction for social media may never be that smooth considering challenges like privacy concerns or the sheer volume of advertising that comes with the territory for these sites. But ACSI data reveal just how poorly social media websites perform when it comes to their user interfaces.

The ACSI model for e-business includes a measure of “homepage” that is based on questions about completeness, accessibility, and organization. The three e-business categories line up in the same order as they do for user satisfaction, with portals & search engines showing a strong advantage over social media. While reducing advertising may not always be an option, improving user interfaces certainly would help make social media more appealing in the long run.

In the ACSI model, perceived quality is the key driver of customer satisfaction for most industries. Quality includes a measure of customization, which is how well the product or service meets an individual’s needs, and reliability, or how often things go wrong.

No surprises here: social media rates lowest in e-business for both customization and reliability. The sharpest contrast is for customization—an area where portals & search engines clearly excel with a score of 83 (compared to 72 for social media and 77 for news & information).

The happier users are with their online experiences, the more likely it is that they will continue to visit a particular site or recommend it to a friend. But simply adding more and more users is not necessarily the formula for success in social media, as Facebook’s weak IPO—and its stock’s failure to rebound in the weeks following—has shown. If a social media site could meet the needs of its users at the same level as the portal and search engine business does now, it would likely garner much greater user satisfaction as well.

Social Media Explosion: ACSI Adds Four Companies

Coming up on July 17, the ACSI will release 2012 results for e-business, including expanded coverage of Internet social media sites. This year, the industry roster more than doubles with the addition of four websites: Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Since 2010, the ACSI has measured three companies within the social media category: Facebook, Google-owned YouTube, and user-generated Wikipedia.

According to a recent survey, two-thirds of major corporations now use Web 2.0 tools such as social networks or blogs. While businesses scramble to make the most of their online resources, competition heats up among the social media sites themselves, whose revenue often depends on advertising dollars.

One year ago, ACSI results showed that social media overall had a long way to go to satisfy its users. Flat at 70 for a second straight year, social media was a below-average performer compared with all sectors and industries in the ACSI.

Among individual sites last year, Wikipedia alone beat the national ACSI average at 78, while Facebook lagged far behind at 66 in the bottom quartile of 225+ companies. Fresh off of its initial public offering, will Facebook improve user satisfaction in 2012?

Crave More Cell Phone Features? You May End Up Being Less Satisfied.

Smartphones have radically altered the landscape of the cellular telephone industry, offering a startling array of apps that reach well beyond sending and receiving phone calls. But, more functionality makes for increasingly complex devices. With smartphones, it’s like you’re carrying a pocket-sized personal computer, and ACSI results show that PCs earn lower customer satisfaction scores than other types of durable goods, in part because of their complexity.

So, how happy are customers who use their phone as a mobile computing device versus those who use their phone as—simply put—a phone? ACSI results released in May 2012 show that the more complex the use, the less satisfied the user is overall with their chosen cell phone.

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Respondents to the survey were asked “other than making or receiving phone calls, what do you use your cell phone service for the most?” For phone-only users, satisfaction is 74 (on a 0 to 100 scale). But, when users do more than phone calling, satisfaction tapers off—from 70 for text messaging all the way down to 65 for multimedia use (such as gaming and video streaming).

While all cell phone users expect about the same level of quality from their phone (77 for phone only versus 76 for multimedia), differences emerge when they consider their actual experiences. The ACSI measures quality as a combination of customization (meeting personal requirements) and reliability (how often things go wrong). Both measures decrease as complexity of use increases, especially reliability.

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According to ACSI research, satisfaction tends to decrease as the number of customer touchpoints increases. This is because there are more opportunities for customers to be disappointed. To put this in context for cell phones: The more functionality the phone has—and that the customer makes use of—the greater the chance that something will go wrong. This can be anything from data upload speed to hardware and software problems.

Indeed, the percentage of customers who have complained to the manufacturer or wireless provider about their cell phone is dramatically lower for phone-only users versus any of the other categories.

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ACSI Releases 2011 Citizen Satisfaction Results

On January 19th, 2012, the ACSI released the results of its 2011 Citizen Satisfaction study. The study focuses on the satisfaction of users of U.S. federal government services. More than 50 high-impact federal departments, agencies and programs experienced by citizens are represented in the annual ACSI sample. For 2011, the federal government ACSI score increased significantly, up 1.5 points from 2010 to 66.9, a gain of 2.3%. This gain erased almost half of the large 3.3-point decline between 2009 and 2010, a positive development for government.

To learn more about the 2011 Citizen Satisfaction study, visit the following links to the ACSI website:

To see a sample of the media coverage for this ACSI release, visit the links below:

Lastly, click here to view a copy of the 2011 ACSI Federal Government Presentation:

Indonesia Becomes ACSI’s Newest Global Partner

In May, Indonesia joined a growing list of countries to adopt the ACSI methodology and create a national index of customer satisfaction. ACSI’s program for international partners – Global CSI – allows these organizations to create customer satisfaction indexes for their own national economies using ACSI’s methods and software. Data collection on the Indonesian project is set to begin this summer, with inaugural results planned for release in October 2011. ACSI contracted with Mars-Indonesia, a well-respected market research firm headquartered in Jakarta and founded by Dr. Asto Subroto, to produce Indonesia’s national index of satisfaction. Dr. Forrest Morgeson of ACSI traveled to Jakarta in May to work with Dr. Subroto’s team and help plan the index.

In addition to Indonesia, versions of the ACSI are ongoing in Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. A pilot study is also set to launch in 2011 in South Africa.

ACSI Releases 2010 Citizen Satisfaction Results

On January 25th, 2011, the ACSI released results for its annual Citizen Satisfaction study. This study focuses on the satisfaction of users of U.S. federal government services, covering citizen experiences with a broad cross-section of federal departments and agencies. In 2010, satisfaction with federal government services plummeted, the study found, down 4.8% to 65.4. This drop represents the largest single-year decline in satisfaction with the federal government since ACSI measurement began.

To learn more about the 2010 Citizen Satisfaction study, visit the following links:
Federal Government Commentary
Federal Government Press Release
Federal Agency/Segment Scores
Public Administration Sector Scores

To see a sample of the media coverage for this ACSI release, visit the links below:
Federal News Radio
Federal Times
National Journal
Federal Computer Week

New ACSI Partner in the Caribbean Releases First Results!

On October 20th, ACSI’s newest partner in the Caribbean released the inaugural results for its national index of customer satisfaction. Metriqual, headquartered in Santo Domingo on the island nation of the Dominican Republic, released the first set of results for INSAC (Indice Nacional de Satisfacción de Clientes República Dominicana, or National Index of Customer Satisfaction-Dominican Republic) in several media outlets and on its website. These results covered three industries vital to the economy of DR: Credit Cards, Mobile Telephone Service, and Health Insurance. With the release, the Dominican Republic joins a rapidly growing list of countries using the ACSI methodology to create national indices of customer satisfaction, including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey. To learn more about INSAC’s first set of results, visit their website: Metriqual/INSAC. To learn more about all of ACSI’s global partnerships, visit our website: ACSI Global Leadership.

GM and Ford Make Headlines. Where’s Chrysler?

While Lincoln and Buick made headlines for snagging the top two slots in ACSI’s 2010 results released last month, the third contender of the proverbial Big Three was conspicuously absent. Of course, the headlines could have taken a different twist—Jeep, Dodge Place Last in Satisfaction. At 77 and 78, Jeep and Dodge brands are indeed the worst satisfiers this year, with the Chrysler nameplate somewhat higher, but still below the average at 80.

ACSI results at the corporate level for the Big Three show Ford and GM brands holding to an average of 86 and 85, respectively, while Chrysler overall declines 4% to an average of 78, far below their domestic competitors. ACSI also compares U.S. versus Asian nameplates (Japan and Korea) each year, and this year the U.S. nameplates edge out Asian nameplates very slightly for the first time since 2000. If Chrysler’s lower performing brands were removed from the U.S. group, Detroit’s advantage would gain considerably.

Chrysler and GM both received bailouts that were met with uneven sentiment in the popular media, while Ford alone maneuvered through the height of the recession bailout-free. Certainly that may have helped Ford’s image in recent months, but Chrysler shows a long history of lagging behind Ford and GM in ACSI. Dodge’s satisfaction peaked at 81 in 2009 (below the industry average of 84), while Jeep has never gotten past 79. The Chrysler nameplate hit 84 in 2009, but looking at all of its measures since 1994, the brand most often ends up at a middling level of 80 (10 out of 17 years).

Click here to see the complete ACSI results for the auto industry.

Media Highlights August 2010

Press Release, August 17, 2010—Detroit Tops Auto Industry for the First Time Ever
CBS News, Ford, GM Models Top Customer Satisfaction Survey.
The Wall Street Journal, Ford, GM Brands Top Customer Satisfaction – Study
Chicago Sun-Times, U.S. Car makers top satisfaction list

ACSI Releases July 2010 E-Business Results

Big drop for Google; Low first-time scores for Facebook and MySpace

On July 20th, the ACSI released results for the E-Business category, including satisfaction scores for a variety of search engines, portals, news and information websites, and for the first time, social media websites. A variety of interesting results can be found in this report, including a big drop in satisfaction for industry leader Google, low first-time scores for Facebook and MySpace, and a strong satisfaction debut for FoxNews.com.

See the commentary by Professor Claes Fornell on these results here: E-Business Commentary.  The Press Release can be found here: E-Business Press Release, and the ACSI scores here: 2010 E-Business Scores.