Customer Satisfaction With E-Businesses Slows

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Overall customer satisfaction with e-businesses such as Google and AOL increased for the fifth year in a row, although at a slower pace than in the previous years, according to the annual e-business report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Released Aug. 15 by the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business , Ann Arbor, MI, the national survey is part of a study of 70,000 customers who rank their experiences with more than 200 companies in 45 industries. It is updated quarterly.

"Consumers standards continue to rise," said Larry Freed, president/CEO of ForeSee Results, Ann Arbor, MI, which co-sponsored the report.

The e-business report covers search engines, portals and online news and information sites. This category continues to outpace the ACSI as a whole, although customer satisfaction with e-business lags the e-commerce category.

Satisfaction with the e-business category has improved every year since 2000, up a cumulative 21.4 percent. From 2005 to 2006, the overall category score inched up 0.8 percent for a total of 76.5 on the ACSI's 100-point scale. In the previous year, the rate of increase was 4.7 percent.

"Every year, if we do the same as we did last year, consumers are going to see us as not fulfilling their needs," Mr. Freed said in reference to this year's slower pace of growth in customer satisfaction.

Google dropped one point this year from 82 to 81 but maintains the highest score in the category. Since 2005, Yahoo's ACSI customer satisfaction score has dropped 5 percent or four points to 76, the biggest drop of all individually measured e-business companies.

AOL, on the other hand, experienced the largest jump in customer satisfaction -- 4 percent from a score of 71 to 74. Customer satisfaction for Ask, formerly Ask Jeeves, has remained relatively flat since 2004 and this year dropped one point to a score of 71. MSN's score dropped 1 point to a 74.

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