The 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) “e-business report is out. Google, Bing and the entire “Internet Search Engines & Portals” category seems to have done well. In particular Bing and Ask improved significantly over last year. Facebook’s report card, on the other hand, is not as likely to make mom and dad happy.
The social network actually gained three points in this year’s survey. However, according to Foresee Results which maintains the report, it’s nothing to celebrate:
Facebook continues to register as one of the lowest-scoring companies measured by the ACSI. To put this in perspective, only 14 other sites of the 226 private-sector companies measured by the ACSI have scores that tie or fall below Facebook’s, meaning Facebook is in the bottom 6% of the whole ACSI. The companies that tend to score below Facebook are mostly airlines, cable companies, and a few electric utilities.
Below is historical data and a selection of scores from the 2011 report:
Source: ForeSee Results; NM=not measured
Scores Have Not Translated into Market Share
As the chart indicates, Google leads with Bing only a point behind in the 2011 index. Among the group represented in the graph above, Facebook is at the bottom. The big question is: does any of this matter?
Foresee Results makes a great deal out of the low Facebook scores, arguing that Facebook could be vulnerable to Google+, which is too new to have been measured in the survey:
The survey was conducted last month, before the widespread introduction of Facebook’s biggest competitor, Google+, but Facebook’s low score indicates that Google+ could easily pounce and gain market share if they can provide a superior customer experience.
Foresee Results says that the ACSI “is a proven predictor of future financial performance . . . [and] a predictive indicator of customers’ future behaviors.” However that has not been true historically in the search market. Big ACSI gains for Ask and Yahoo (including in 2007 when it beat Google) have not turned into concrete market share gains. So we should be cautious in drawing too many conclusions from the scores.
Facebook Lags YouTube, Wikipedia
The highest ranking site presented in the “social media” segment is Wikipedia with a 78. YouTube is second with 74 points. The average is 70. Facebook is four points below that, while MySpace didn’t get enough responses to generate a score this year. And, strangely, Twitter doesn’t appear to have been measured at all.
Last year Facebook didn’t score well either. Here were some of the qualitative observations from the 2010 report:
Older people are less satisfied with Facebook than are younger people, who are less impacted by the privacy concerns and changes to the interface. Young people helped to make Facebook successful, and they like it a little better. However, the fastest-growing Facebook segments are all older adults, so higher satisfaction among young people will not carry the company far.
It’s likely that some of these complaints persist, although there’s no qualitative discussion in the press materials issued this year. So what we can make of Facebook’s generally poor showing in the ACSI, and the suggestion that Google+ can “easily pounce and gain market share”?
I agree that there is some “pent up demand” for a Facebook alternative and that there is some vulnerability. The scores perhaps reflect that “opening.” But the ACSI is by no means a harbinger of doom for Facebook or a guarantee that Google+ will capture share.
We’ll get to see if that happens in real time as Google+ rolls out more broadly. Then next year, we can then look back at the ACSI and see if it correctly predicted a Facebook decline.
Stock image from Shutterstock, used under license.
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