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Facebook Flounders in Customer Satisfaction
American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report '10: FoxNews.com and Google take top honors, while popular social networking sites leave members wanting more.
Posted Nov 16, 2010
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Angry status updates may not be the only sign of unrest within the Facebook community.

For the first time ever, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) E-Business Report included social media Web sites in its annual survey, and the results indicate customers aren't exactly thrilled with Facebook's activities. With 500 million members, the company is by far the largest social network, but despite that level of popularity Facebook received a customer satisfaction score resembling that of the much-reviled Internal Revenue Service. 

The ACSI report, produced annually by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business in partnership with ForeSee Results, represents the responses of more than 70,000 customers about more than 225 companies. ASCI data has historically shown strong correlations to financial performance. "What we see time and time again is that customer satisfaction today is a great indicator for a company's financial success," says Larry Freed, the chief executive officer of ForeSee Results.

Typically, Freed notes, companies should hope for a score of 80 or above — and Facebook came in at a mere 64. Any company scoring that poorly on the Index, Freed says, should consider the result a reality check. "While they're doing great [financially]," he says, "they need to fix this and get consumers satisfied — or it will start to have an impact on future successes."

The E-Business report is broken down into three categories:

News and Information

"In the past, news and information had a hard time differentiating themselves and taking the personality of print and bringing it to the Web," Freed says. Several players are doing an increasingly good job at it, though.

  • FoxNews.com received an 82 in its first year on the index — the highest overall ranking in this year's report — which Freed credits to the loyalty of the News Corp. division's offline fan base. "Fox has done a good job of taking what's made [it] strong in broadcast and bringing that to the Web."
  • USAToday.com gets a 77 this year (a 4.1 percent climb from 2009).
  • NYTimes.com comes in with a 76.
  • Others on the list include ABCNews.com, MSNBC.com, and CNN.com, all with scores in the low 70s.

Portals and Search Engines

"Search is a challenge that keeps getting harder and harder," Freed says. "The amount of information for us to look for gets bigger every minute. Also we have this explosion of social sites and user-generated content, so the ability to find what you are looking for in search keeps getting tougher."

  • Despite a score of 80 -- one of the highest on the index, and best in its category -- Google dropped a whopping six points in customer satisfaction compared to 2009, a slide that Freed attributes to the company's stumbles in privacy, security, and the recently shuttered Google Buzz.
  • Microsoft's Bing earned a 77 in its first-ever appearance in the ACSI report. "Bing has done a good job of marketing [its] release and also in innovating," Freed says. "Bing has done a few things that Google is now playing catch-up on."
  • Yahoo! remained third in the category this year, with a score of 76. The company's score has been declining since 2005, when it peaked at 80.
  • MSN earned a 75.
  • AOL climbed 5.7 percent to a score of 74 this year. "AOL Mail is still a strong player," Freed states. "The portal is much improved and has a clean design and is competing with Yahoo! and MSN, and its scores are starting to reflect that."
  • Other notable placements include Ask.com at 73.

Social Media

Freed says he wasn't sure how social media companies might fare in their first year of inclusion in the report. As it turns out, no social media company broke the critical threshold of scoring 80 or above, which Freed says all companies should be aiming for. 

  • Wikipedia took top honors in this segment with a score of 77.
  • YouTube scored a 73.
  • Facebook only managed a lowly 64. "If people had a viable alternative to Facebook, they would look to that," Freed says, "but to a great extent, there aren't a lot of alternatives."
  • MySpace fared even less well, coming in with a 63.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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