Apple is ahead of the pack when it comes to computer happiness, but Windows 7 has done much to help the PC camps.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has released its report on customer satisfaction ratings over the past year, showing that people are generally happier than ever with their goods.
“In order for demand to rebound, consumers must exhibit an increased desire to spend and have the means to do so,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “ACSI data suggest that for durables, the first condition has been met in the form of higher customer satisfaction. Whether this will translate into increased consumer demand will depend on positive movement in the factors that impact the means to spend: employment, wages and access to credit.”
For satisfaction of personal computers, the rating surged up 4 percent to match the all-time industry high of 78 on the ACSI’s 0 to 100-point scale. Apple gains 2 percent to 86, its highest score ever. This marks the seventh straight year that Apple leads all other PC makers, and the 9-point gap between Apple and its nearest competitor is the largest in ACSI. Potentially skewing Apple's rating upward is the ASCI's inclusion of the iPad, which is the highest ranked product that the ASCI has ever tracked.
Despite that gap between Apple and the rest, Windows-based machines also improved and no brand declined. Dell improves 3 percent, while Acer (Gateway and eMachines) and the HP division of Hewlett-Packard both rise 4 percent, forming a three-way tie at 77. These companies are joined by the aggregate of all smaller PC makers, such as Sony and Toshiba, which gained 4 percent to 77.
“Windows-based PC brands appear to have recovered from the problems associated with the Windows Vista software,” said Fornell. “Barely a year into the release of Windows 7, satisfaction with these brands has returned to, and in some cases even surpassed, the levels prior to the launch of Vista.”
ACSI said that PC makers have benefited overall from better customer service, although this service continues to lag far behind other durable goods industries. PC owners who had reason to contact customer support are 8 percent less satisfied than those with no post-purchase contact with the manufacturer or retailer.