Computer Brands Get High Votes From Satisfied Customers

American consumers seem to be generally happier with their recent computer purchases lately than in years past, but it appears buyers of some brands are happier than others.

The spring launch of Apple’s iPad helped the Cuptertino company boost its already formidable customer satisfaction rating in the 2010 edition of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which was delivered this week.

The wildly successful April launch closely preceded May and June data collection for the annual survey, which covered durable household purchases such as computers, televisions and appliances and helped boost Apple to an overall 86 rating, out of a possible 100.

“When you release a new product that’s perceived to be high-quality and is enormously successful, that’s going to have a positive effect overall on satisfaction,” ACSI managing director David VanAmburg told CRM Buyer.

Eliminating Vista Odor

That explanation might also cover the rising scores seen by Apple’s rivals. The effect extended to Windows-based PC manufacturers as well, with the popularity of Windows 7 helping improve the scores of PC manufacturers to such an extent that it largely wiped out declines in satisfaction wrought by the notoriously unpopular Windows Vista, according to ACSI.

Acer, Dell and HP led the pack in a three-way tie at 77, up two or three points for each company from their 2009 rankings. For most, the rankings were near record highs. HP’s Compaq brand was the only laggard, coming in with a score of 74, unchanged from the year before.

The survey did not capture potential discontent with Apple over the rocky but still successful launch of its latest version of the iPhone. Soon after the device was launched, users complained about antenna and proximity sensor problems, and the issue reached a high enough profile that Apple was compelled to give its customers free phone cases, the use of which generally solved the problem.

Nor was the survey affected by rising tensions in some quarters over Apple’s tight-fisted control over access to its iOS mobile operating system. That’s because the survey focuses on customer experience with recent purchases of goods, not overall brand perceptions, VanAmburg said.

Appliances Gaining Ground

Manufacturers of big-ticket consumer appliances also gained ground in the study, a possible show of increased confidence among consumers hopeful the national recession was beginning to fade, ACSI said.

Whirpool led the way in that category with a score of 83.

Wednesday’s release covered only durable consumer goods and doesn’t necessarily show that Apple is the most well-regarded of all U.S. companies, VanAmburg said.

Some auto nameplates, retail websites and non-durable consumer brands rival or exceed Apple’s rankings, he said.

The ACSI surveys on durable household goods were conducted in May and June 2010 by a combination of randomized telephone and email contacts to produce a statistically valid sample. Scores for each company are based on 250 customer interviews. ACSI surveyors conduct 70,000 interviews annually, according to the organization.

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