There are two major stories in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), released May 20. The first is that smartphone owners have for the first time given Samsung a higher satisfaction rating than Apple.
The second, particularly notable as the number of merger proposals in the federal government's inbox increases, is that customer satisfaction with subscription TV and Internet service providers (ISPs) has sunk to a new low. So low, said the report, that these industries are the worst performing of the 43 industries the ACSI tracks.
Samsung Tops Apple in Customer Satisfaction
That first story is more happy news for the company that sells more smartphones and mobile phones worldwide than any of its competitors. The ACSI points out that while in the United States Apple sells "nearly twice the number of smartphones" as its nearest competitor, "Samsung now comes out on top in one critical metric—customer satisfaction."
While last year customers gave Samsung a 76 out of 100 to Apple's 81, this year Samsung's score rose to an 81, while Apple's fell to 79.
"This is the second year of improvement for Samsung, which was near the bottom of the industry at 71 in 2012, but now leads all manufacturers," said the report. "By contrast, Apple declines for a second straight year, slipping 2% to 79, but still maintaining a slim lead over Motorola Mobility and Nokia (now Microsoft), both at 77."
Nokia's score of 77 was up 1 point from last year, HTC grew its score by 3 points to 75, and BlackBerry improved its score, jumping from a 69 in 2013 to 74 in 2014. BlackBerry tied with Samsung's 7 percent improvement, the highest increase among those tracked.
Overall, customer satisfaction with the mobile phone experience increased—sentiment around the ease of sending or receiving messages, the size of displays, the quality of audio and video, and the ease of navigation all improved. Scoring around actually talking on a mobile phone was static, while ratings around battery life were rather poor, which the ACSI chalks up to people now using intense amounts of data, which uses battery life more quickly than talking and texting.
ISPs and Pay TV
Customer satisfaction with ISPs fell by 3.1 percent year over year, the ACSI found, while subscription TV scores fell by 4.4 percent.
Specifically, Time Warner Cable (TWC) received the lowest score of any subscription television service, falling by 7 percent to 56 out of 100.
Comcast and Charter Communications, falling 5 and 6 percent, respectively, each scored a 60. Dish, down 4 percent, received a score of 67. Verizon FiOS, down 7 percent, scored a 68. And AT&T U-Verse, down 3 percent, scored a 69, tying it with DirecTV, which was down 4 percent from last year.