updated 12:40 am EDT, Thu May 17, 2012
Samsung, RIM least liked by US consumers
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has released its latest findings on the state of US consumer satisfaction in the areas of cellphone manufacturers and wireless carriers. For the former, there was one runaway winner -- Apple. For the latter, Sprint was able to score a win among a tight field. Overall satisfaction was up an incremental 0.1 percent to a 75.9 score out of a possible 100.
More remarkable was the slide in customer satisfaction with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM), which came in last on the list with a rating of 69 percent satisfaction. This is the first year that Apple, RIM, HTC and LG were included in the cellphone makers' survey, with the iPhone maker topping the list with 83 percent satisfaction, nine points higher than the industry average.
Interestingly, the 83 rating for the iPhone is actually lower than Apple's satisfaction rating for its computers (which for ACSI's purposes include the iPad), which garnered an 87 percent satisfaction rating (again the highest among rated makers) in September of last year. Apple has enjoyed an eight-year run as the highest-rated computer manufacturer in the ACSI survey, and is the first cellphone maker to crack the 80 barrier in customer satisfaction.
The iPhone scored eight points higher than its nearest rivals in terms of satisfaction, Nokia, LG and HTC. All three of the companies tied at 75 percent satisfaction have seen their stock suffer as profits from the handset business have gone almost entirely to Apple and Samsung. Despite the latter's success in both sales and profits, Samsung fell four points from the last survey to next-to-last place with 71 percent satisfaction.
Motorola also fell, dropping five points to 73 percent. Nokia's strong showing may indicate that what few customers are buying Windows Phone models from the company are happy with them. The results may give the company some hope of capturing disaffected Android and BlackBerry buyers who may be looking to switch, though the results do include feature phones as well as smartphones from all the companies that still sell feature phones.
Notable as part of Apple's extraordinarily high rating may be the uniformity of models and capabilities across the iPhone line. Unlike Android models with widely varying features across hundreds of models, iPhones all basically perform the same with few features differing between just three supported models.
Wireless carrier survey results also yielded some surprises, with Sprint (which is third-place in size) getting the top score among the major carriers with 71 percent -- but with all the major carries being only a point away from the next placer. Verizon got a 70 percent satisfaction rating, while AT&T and T-Mobile each scored a 69. All carriers saw a drop in satisfaction this year, and the scores are noticeably lower than those of the cellphone manufacturers.
AT&T managed the most improvement, rising four points but still not escaping a tie for last place. Smaller carriers such as Tracfone and US Cellular managed better scores, up to 76 percent satisfaction.
The ACSI draws its data from a total of 70,000 consumers interviewed across the year about their experiences with 225 companies across 47 industries and 10 economic sectors. Different industries are reported on from the aggregated data each month.