The American Customer Satisfaction Index, from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, found customer satisfaction with Microsoft fell during the past year. This is the second year the index, a broad tracker of “customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States,” has measured Microsoft and the broader computer software industry. (Microsoft is the only software company evaluated seperately from the group.)
The industry, apart from Microsoft, was flat with a index rating of 75 as measured in the first quarter of 2006 and 75 in the first quarter of this year –in line with the broader index. The index measured an all-time high of 75.2 in the first quarter, by the way.
Microsoft, however, saw its number decline from 73 to 70.
“A year ago, the world’s leading software producer was even with the rest of the industry; now it is behind in customer satisfaction,” wrote the index’s publishers. “Much of this seems to have to do with its new operating system, Windows Vista, and the new Office Suite which were both released in January.”
While we’ve heard our share of gripes about Vista, I asked University of Michigan Business Professor Claes Fornell if the index actually measured the cause of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction at specific companies. Turns out that it doesn’t, but Fornell said new product releases can drag down customer satisfaction.
“It probably had some impact, but the release of those two products probably hasn’t had their full force yet,” he said. “It is true, though, usually, when a company like this releases something new, if there are issues with it, either reliability and how it works and fits with other things, there is a backlash and customer satisfaction takes a dip. In this case, it’s too early to say what the full effect will be.”
Worth noting: Microsoft’s index score of 70 placed it below top-rated FedEx (84), Olive Garden (80), Starbucks (78) the U.S. Postal Service (77) and about 40 other companies. Consumers were more satisfied with Microsoft than with broadcast TV news (67), the newspaper industry (66), airlines (63) and, at the bottom, Comcast (56) and Charter Communications (55).