The American Customer Satisfaction Index is an economic indicator that measures the satisfaction of consumers across the US economy. This is done through survey interviews of random customers based in the US, asking them to evaluate their recent experiences with various products.
The survey data is then used as input to ACSI’s cause-and-effect econometric model, which estimates customer satisfaction as the result of the survey-measured inputs of customer expectations, perceptions of quality and perceptions of value. For the ACSI Telecommunications and Information Report 2017, the results are based on interviews with 36,194 customers over 12 months who were chosen at random but ensured to be actual customers as ASCI practice dictates.
The results for customer satisfaction, and not to be confused with product popularity or sales, are surprising.
Customer satisfaction with cell phones in general is stable at an ACSI score of 79, which is unchanged Year-on-Year. The relatively lower ACSI for the industry compared to other durable goods and consumer electronics is said to be a result of high consumer expectations for mobile devices.
OEM-wise, Apple maintains the lead with an overall ACSI score of 81, unchanged since last year. Microsoft actually went up in ACSI score to tie in with Samsung at 80, which is surprising when you consider that Microsoft has not released any new smartphones in a while. This means that the Windows smartphones in existence continue to meet the expectations of the customer despite their age. Samsung’s second place tie also exists despite the confidence issues that it faced after the Note 7 debacle, though ASCI notes that Note 7 devices were not captured in this data, and neither where the S8 and S8+ as they were released at the end of data collection.
Narrowing down to individual smartphones, the very surprising winner as far as consumer satisfaction is concerned is the iPhone SE. The 4″ iPhone SE ranks in at the top with a score of 87, above smartphones which have displays far larger than the iPhone SE.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ ties in with the iPhone 7 Plus for second place at 86, while the S6 Edge takes the next place with a score of 85. Apple and Samsung continue to dominate this category, which is not surprising considering their popularity, with smartphones from other manufacturers trailing behind.
The table below shows the changes with the core smartphone experience and how satisfied consumers are with them when compared to the past year:
The report then moves onto wireless telephone services: overall, customer satisfaction with wireless telephone service climbed up by 2.8% to 73 as American carriers engaged in increasingly competitive price wars. ACSI states that the wireless industry is a good example of how competition impacts consumer choice as customers have wider in this industry at this point in time.
Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, smaller carriers are in the lead with an ACSI score of 79. TracFone Wireless comes in at second position with a score of 75, riding on its acquisition of Walmart Family Mobile from T-Mobile last year. US Cellular comes in third (if you count the smaller carriers as one single entity, which they are not), and it is only then do the big four of US carriers come in with regards customer satisfaction. AT&T even down to score which is slightly lower than the industry average!
When looking at the overall wireless experience, the telecom industry improved on its score for website satisfaction as well as call reliability. The regression is seen in the areas of store and service center staff, speed of store transactions and the difficulty in reading bills.
What are your thoughts on the trends seen in this report? How do you see consumer satisfaction correlating with brand popularity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!