Apple clobbers Windows PC makers in customer service survey

But its 'not fair' to blame Microsoft, says analyst

Apple beat rival computer makers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell by wide margins in a recent customers satisfaction survey, an analyst said Monday.

Of the five computer manufacturers that made it into Forrester Research's Customer Experience Index top 114 firms, Apple scored 80%, enough for a label of "good" and 23rd place.

Gateway, HP and Compaq, meanwhile, scored 66%, 64% and 63%, respectively, taking places 64, 72 and 78. Only Gateway did well enough to sneak into the "okay" category; HP and Compaq dropped into the "poor" pigeonhole.

Dell was the lowest-scoring computer maker in the index, getting just 58% -- "poor" by Forrester's standards -- and holding down 93rd place.

The report, based on a survey of 4,500 U.S. consumers, points to Apple's strengths, said Bruce Temkin, the Forrester analyst who authored the poll and collated the results. "The largest gap between its scores and those of its competitors was in being 'easy to use,'" Temkin said. "In this component, Apple's lead ranged from 17 points over Gateway to 28 points over Dell."

Apple's lead was less dramatic in the other elements that combined to make the final score -- "useful" and "enjoyable" -- noted Temkin. Apple beat its competitors in the former by 11 to 14 points, and outscored them by 15 to 25 points in the latter.

While Apple whipped the country's biggest PC makers -- which equip nearly all their machines with one version of Microsoft's Windows or another -- Temkin didn't think it was right to point the finger at only Redmond.

"It's impossible to isolate the impact of the operating system on the overall scores," he said. "It's clear, however, that consumers' interaction with Windows plays a critical role in how they view the overall experience of the PC makers. But it wouldn't be fair to blame Microsoft for the low scores. The PC firms just haven't kept up with Apple."

Temkin, like other analysts, pointed to Apple's retail stores as one major advantage it has over its U.S. rivals, which sell direct to customers or through third-party retail chains like Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart. "The Apple store definitely helps," said Temkin. "It creates a compelling retail experience and the immediate, free access to an Apple Genius has revolutionized technical service in the electronics industry."

He also cited other recent research he's conducted that measured how satisfied consumers were with store interactions. "It turns out that Apple's satisfaction rate was well ahead of Best Buy's," Temkin said.

But high satisfaction levels -- at 80%, Apple's would be equivalent to a solid B -- don't necessarily translate into higher sales. According to rival research firm IDC, Apple's U.S. sales slipped during 2009's first quarter, falling 1.1% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, IDC estimated that HP boosted its unit sales by 12.2% year-over-year.

Although Temkin said that customer experience is "an important driver for sales," he said that the strongest correlation is between satisfaction and "the likelihood that a consumer would buy more from the PC maker."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags compaqHPDellAppleforrester

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?