Google+ Could Boost Customer Satisfaction vs. Facebook: ACSI Report

Google sported an 83 percent customer satisfaction rating, followed closely by Bing. At the bottom of the ACSI survey was Facebook with 66 percent share. Google+ may help Google gain on Facebook.

Google+ could help the search engine boost its already leading customer satisfaction score versus the likes of Facebook, Microsoft Bing and other Internet companies, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report.

With an 83 percent score, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) remains the most popular search engine in customer satisfaction, growing 4 points from a year ago, found the ACSI report, created with customer analytics firm ForeSee Results. ACSI solicits data from interviews with some 70,000 business customers each year.

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing search engine was hot on Google's tail with an 82 percent customer satisfaction rating, up 7 percent from a year ago. ACSI and ForeSee rate anything above 80 percent as an excellent score.

Facebook, which has more than 750 million users, scored 66 percent. That was the lowest-scoring Website in the social media, behind both Wikipedia (78 percent) and YouTube (74 percent).

Worse, only 14 other sites of the 226 private-sector companies measured by the ACSI have scores equal to or less than Facebook's, putting the social network in the bottom percent of the survey.

That means Facebook is ranked with cable companies and airlines, industries for which customers seem to reserve the most pernicious ire.

The social network's low score potentially presents an interesting theme to watch. Facebook is the dominant social platform, largely because most of their friends patronize the platform.

The advent of Google+, which has amassed 10 million-plus users in the three weeks since its inception, may provide such an alternative if the company lets enough users in to try it.

Noting that the survey was conducted in June before Google+ launched, ForeSee President and CEO Larry Freed said it's possible Google could gain more customer satisfaction share at Facebook's expense if the service continues to prove popular. Google+ is, after all, only in a limited field test.

"An existing dominance of market share like Facebook has is no longer a safety net for a company that is not providing a superior customer experience," Freed said.

Perhaps, but 10 million users to 750 million users is likely an impossibly large gulf for Google to close versus Facebook.

The trend will be interesting to watch because if Facebook's satisfaction scores continue to be low and more users jump to Google+ as an alternative, it might make for more interesting competition in the very lopsided social network arms race.

One way Google is dinging Facebook in the customer approval segment is through its Data Liberation Front, a group of Google engineers who work on software tools to let users freely export their data from Google to other Web services.

The group has taken an "open" approach to data portability while strongly implying that Facebook's walled garden will turn off users and send them to the comfort of Google+.

Time will tell on that score.