Customers are generally happier than ever with the quality of their PCs, according to the newest yearly update of the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The Index relies on customer interviews, with the resulting data inputted into a model originally developed by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
The Index evaluates customer satisfaction with PCs alongside other manufacturing/durable goods such as major household appliances and consumer electronics.
Of the various PC manufacturers listed on the Index, Apple scored highest with 86 points out of a possible 100, a 2-point rise from 2009. Acer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard each scored 77 points, while Compaq (which merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002) placed lower with 74 points. An "All Others" category, featuring a handful of smaller brands, scored 77 points.
Except for HP-owned Compaq, which also posted a 74 on the Index in 2009, all manufacturers experienced a rise in consumer satisfaction. Overall, customer satisfaction in PCs has risen 4 percent since 2009, to 78 points.
"Lower prices, better service, and an emphasis on new, smaller systems and a variety of portable PCs helped drive the improvement," Claes Fornell, director of the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan, wrote in a Sept. 21 research note accompanying the data. "Windows-based manufacturers made large gains in the second year of Microsoft's release of Windows 7, marking a recovery from the problems associated with the Windows Vista software."
However, Fornell added, "customer service for personal computers continues to lag far behind other durables. Owners who had reason to contact customer care or technical help lines were 8 [percent] less satisfied than those who had no post-purchase contract with the manufacturer or retailer."
ACSI, founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business before being spun off as a private company, measures customer satisfaction scores for more than 200 companies in 44 industries, as well as government agencies. In addition to hardware, the Index also evaluates software companies such as Microsoft.
Recent data from surveys and analysts indicates that both consumers and businesses are beginning to spend again in the wake of the global recession. A Sept. 20 research note by Gartner suggested that worldwide enterprise-software spending will increase over the next few years, eventually reaching $297 billion by 2014. At the same time, however, Gartner predicted that spending in North America would slow in the latter half of 2010, indicating that the economic recovery in this country will be a somewhat drawn-out affair.
Customer spending on PCs and hardware has experienced an uptick, as evidenced by recent sales numbers by Apple. Microsoft has also reported sales of more than 175 million Windows 7 licenses, indicating a substantial tech refresh by customers and businesses is indeed underway.