Yahoo Gains on Google in Satisfaction Index Study

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Google's lead over Yahoo is dwindling, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index released yesterday by the University of Michigan and analyzed by Web customer satisfaction firm ForeSee Results.


The index awarded Google 82 points on a scale of 100 versus 80 for Yahoo. But both companies compete in each other's space as search and portals converge, leading to increased pressure to become the starting point for the user's online experience.


"I think customers have high expectations, but these expectations have been set by the leading companies," ForeSee president/CEO Larry Freed said. "Google has done a phenomenal job as a search engine, but they now compete across many fronts with Yahoo, MSN and many others. And consumer expectations are that they'll get the same level of service from Google Maps to Gmail to Google Desktop Search."


Google and Yahoo were in the top-scoring tier of the index, which measures customer satisfaction of more than 200 firms across 41 industries.


The index found that customer satisfaction with e-business rose 4.7 percent since 2004 to 75.9 on the 100-point scale. E-business narrowed the gap with the index's e-commerce measure at 78.6 and, for the first time, exceeded the national index average of 73.1.


Other portals and search engines were close behind. AOL scored 71, up from 56 in 2000. The site is moving from its walled-garden portal/Internet service provider position to throwing content open to all, leveraging material from parent Time Warner Inc.


MSN, meanwhile, scores higher than AOL -- 75 -- but still has a way to go to catch Yahoo or Google. The brand has shown minimal growth in customer satisfaction since 2003, according to the index.


Ask Jeeves, however, moved from 62 points for customer satisfaction in 2002 to 72 this year, a 16 percent increase. It also has seen its search queries rise by the same percentage. The key to Ask Jeeves' success is being able to leverage the Ticketmaster and HSN assets of common parent IAC Corp.


Most of the results were expected, but one intrigued Ann Arbor, MI-based Freed.


"What surprised me was the fact that AOL continues to make great strides forward," he said. "They're the one out of this whole group that has seen the biggest increase in satisfaction, yet they still trail the leaders by a significant margin … it's a bit of the glass-half-full, glass-half-empty [situation]. They need to close the gap quickly in terms of meeting customers' needs, exceeding their expectations."


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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