Apple’s satisfied customers
For the seventh straight year, Apple has beaten out its competitors in the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index
(ACSI). In fact, with a 2010 score of 86 out of a possible 100, Apple
managed to achieve its highest ranking since the annual survey began in
The ACSI arrives at its results using a complex model
which evaluates customer expectations, perceived quality and value,
overall satisfaction with a company’s products, and ensuing customer
loyalty. Apple’s record-breaking score puts it a full nine points ahead
of its nearest rivals, which include Acer, Dell, HP and others. That’s
the largest lead of any company over its competitors in any of the
ACSI’s 45 different categories.
A number of special factors
contribute to Apple’s stellar performance. It has a broad line-up of
products that are unique but related, allowing the success of one
product to confer a halo effect on the rest. It has a meticulously
controlled retail environment, which means that customers can expect the
same knowledgeable and enthusiastic service wherever they go. And the
company has a high-profile, charismatic leader, who goes out of his way
to instill confidence in the buying public.
Apple is also helped
by controlling its own software. So many IT products fail because of
poor software, but Apple, with iOS for the iPhone, iTunes, and Mac OS X,
has total control over the customer experience. It also allows Apple to
control the upgrade cycle, bringing products to market only when they
are completely ready.
Although a number of hardware manufacturers
have tried to imitate Apple’s products, particularly its success with
the iPhone, none of its competitors have all the other customer-facing
pieces in place. Perhaps Sony with its Sony Style stores comes closest
on the retail side; and HP with its recent acquisition of Palm may look
to offer a more integrated line of products.
But Apple shows no
sign of slowing down. It has a big lead in the exploding tablet computer
market with the iPad, and its new line-up of iPods will continue to
crush the competition. Even its recent hiccup over the antenna problems
associated with the new iPhone 4 might turn out to be a blessing in
disguise, ensuring complacency is never an issue as it enjoys life at
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