Dell, which grew into the world's largest PC maker in part because of a reputation for good service, is facing slipping customer satisfaction, a new report says.
Released today, the latest University of Michigan ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index)
found that while overall customer satisfaction ratings within the PC industry are unchanged from a year ago, Dell suffered a sharp drop in customer satisfaction, and top-ranked Apple maintained its position.
Dell Inc., of Round Rock, Texas, which a few years ago had been ranked tops in the survey garnering a score of 80 points in 2000, slipped this year, from 79 percent to 74 percent.
The survey showed customer service from the company, and not its products, as respondents primary area of complaint.
"Customer service is absolutely a strategic priority to Dell. We do recognize that weve experienced some challenges and are working to reverse them," said Jennifer Davis, spokesperson for Dell.
"We know that hold time is a frustration and have added four more global call centers this year. In addition, we have added an outbound calling program: If you have called three times in seven days, you obviously have an unresolved issue. We then call you back to find out if there is something more we can do."
Dell, which says it places much of its emphasis on sales to businesses, has seen its satisfaction levels on that front improve lately.
A study by Technology Business Research Inc., released in June of this year, showed Dell to be tied with HP in the area of customer service,
both in second place behind IBM.
Meanwhile, shares of Dell fell nearly 8 percent after it forecasted quarterly revenue below expectations this week.
However, Dell had a 28 percent rise in second-quarter profits, helped along by its notebook sales.
Read more here about Dells notebook sales.
This quarters ACSI report also revealed lower ratings for Hewlett-Packard Co., Dells chief rival.
Three years after its merger with Compaq Computer, HPs customer satisfaction is at an all time low, according to the report, scoring only 67 points.
Apple Computer Inc., which gained the top rank this year, continued as the computer markets standards bearer and has grown unit shipments of three to four times faster than the rest of the PC industry. Apple saw its customer satisfaction rating remain the same as last year, at 81 points.
Established in 1994, the ACSI report is a national indicator of consumer spending, tracking trends in customer satisfaction.
While it updates each quarter, reports from specific sectors of the economy are updated once per year.
After six months of decline, the current quarters report focusing on Manufacturing and Durable Goodsencompassing automobiles, appliances, e-businesses, as well as personal computersfound consumer satisfaction holding steady this quarter, a promising sign for the economy.
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