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.
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.
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.
In January, Malaysia officially joined the group of countries using the ACSI methodology to create a national index of customer satisfaction. Dr. Forrest Morgeson of ACSI traveled to Kuala Lumpur in late January and early February to work with the Malaysian Productivity Corporation, the group in Malaysia that has licensed the ACSI. Inaugural results for the Malaysian Index are planned for release later this year.
In addition to Malaysia, ACSI-sponsored projects are ongoing in Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
The new study, titled “An Investigation of the Cross-National Determinants of Customer Satisfaction” and forthcoming in Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, examines a very large sample of customer satisfaction data across 19 nations to determine which factors are most responsible for differences in satisfaction scores across countries. The findings, detailed in the article, should prove useful to market researchers, academic researchers, and those generally interested in how competitiveness impacts economic success in the global economy.
Study abstract: “Many multinational corporations have implemented cross-national satisfaction measurement programs for tracking and benchmarking the satisfaction of their customers across their various markets. These companies measure satisfaction with the goal of maximizing customer loyalty and the financial benefits associated with loyalty. However, existing research comparing consumer satisfaction across nations is limited, with the few existing studies examining only a small number of countries or predictors of satisfaction, or a small group of consumers within a particular economic sector. To expand our knowledge of the determinants of cross-national variation in customer satisfaction, we study three sets of factors: cultural, socioeconomic and political-economic. We utilize a unique sample of cross-industry satisfaction data from 19 nations, including nearly 257,000 interviews of consumers. Consistent with our hypotheses, we find that culture does impact satisfaction. We also find a negative relationship between per capita gross domestic product and satisfaction, but a positive relationship between satisfaction and literacy rate, trade freedom, and business freedom. We discuss the implications of these findings for policymakers, multinational corporations, and researchers.”
See the “Online First” version of the article here (via SpringerLink): An Investigation of the Cross-National Determinants of Customer Satisfaction