For the seventh straight year, Apple has topped its competitors in the PC industry in the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), achieving a score of 86 out of 100. This is Apple’s highest ranking since the survey began in the mid ninety’s.
Some of the other major PC manufacturers score ranking were as follows:
Acer, Dell, HP – 77 out of 100
HP’s Compaq – 74 out of 100
This lead can be attributed to a few things such as a lineup of products that is broad yet connected, a meticulously controlled retail experience. Every Apple store is a virtual clone. There are 300 Apple stores worldwide right now, mostly in the U.S., but growing in major world capitals such as London, Paris, and Shanghai. Everything about the store is intended to represent what it is like to own and use an Apple product. Apple controls the whole visitor experience, from the limited range of products on the shelves, to the training of the young, intentionally geeky/hip employees, to the tech support received at the Genius Bar and the educational classes offered in stores for using Apple products.
It’s not just great good customer service, though that certainly helps!
“Apple’s competitors are much more technically oriented than customer oriented, which has a sizable effect on how they prioritize”, said Ira Kalb, clinical marketing professor at the USC Marshall School of Business. “The reason that a lot of these companies don’t copy Apple’s customer service is they don’t realize how important it is, that’s the big one,” Kalb said. “They look at it as a cost rather than a return on investment item.”
Though it sounds obvious that the customer being taken care of should be a primary concern for any company dealing in consumer goods, it’s not always followed, Kalb said. “A lot of these computer companies in particular were started and run by technical people, who are notorious for caring about technology over customers.”
Things like customer service, marketing, and making technology easier to understand for nontechnical people can make or break a customer’s perception of a company. Apple’s customer service, which is perennially ranked highly, is illustrative of the differences.