July 20, 2011

Facebook Scores Low On Customer Satisfaction

Among social media websites, Facebook still ranks low on customer satisfaction despite a small improvement this year, according to the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report and ForeSee Results.

Results for the ranking comes from data gathered through interviews with about 70,000 customers annually to measure satisfaction with more than 225 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, as well as more than 130 federal government departments, agencies and websites.

The report released on Tuesday covers three categories of e-business: social media, portals and search engines, and online news. Sixteen websites were evaluated and included Facebook, Google, Wikipedia and CNN.

Results from the survey showed an unchanged overall customer satisfaction with social media sites compared to last year's results, at an aggregate score of 70 out of 100. Any number above an 80 is considered to be excellent.

When compared with other industries, social media is a low-scoring category, with airlines, cable television and print newspapers ranking lower.

Wikipedia takes the lead at the top of the social media category with a score of 78, followed by YouTube at second with a score of 74. MySpace was dropped from the index this year due to not enough users to create a statistically significant sample.

With a score of 66, Facebook was the lowest-scoring social media site, even as it gained 2 points from last year's index.

"We take user feedback seriously and strive to create a simple, fast and innovative service that enables people to connect with their friends in a safe environment," Facebook said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.

"More than half of our users visit Facebook every day, and we're constantly enhancing our products to offer people the best possible experience."

ForeSee Results Chief Executive Larry Freed noted that Facebook is still the social network of choice for most with at least 750 million active users, and highlights the company's slight increase on the index from last year.

"It shows that the social media giant may be moving in the right direction, albeit very slowly," Freed told the Tribune.

"Facebook is clearly king right now, but if anyone can knock it off its throne, it would be Google."

The ACSI categorized Google under search engines and portals instead of social media, since data for the 2011 study were collected before Google+, the search giant's suite of social networking features, was launched. Nonetheless, Google leads its category with a score of 83.

"If Google can carry over their customer-centric ethos to Google+, Facebook could have serious competition that has the potential to very quickly erode its market share," Freed wrote.

Bing follows closely behind Google in the search engines and portals category, with a score of 82, an impressive 7% jump from last year.

"While Google+ is the challenger to Facebook's established dominance in the social media sphere, in the search engine wars, Google is king and Bing is hoping to be a contender," added Freed.

"Last year, Google's customer satisfaction score was three points higher than Bing's. This year, that gap narrows to one point. Bing is showing it can challenge Google in terms of revenue, market share, and the customer experience."

Meanwhile, FoxNews.com leads the news website pack with a score of 82, with ABCNews.com trailing five points behind at 77. HuffingtonPost.com debuts at the bottom of the index at 69, and NYTimes drops 4% to 73.

"E-business is still relatively immature in many ways, often more interested in technology than in satisfying customers," says Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer.

"As competition gets tougher, this is likely to change, and the successful companies are going to have powerful cause-and-effect customer satisfaction measurement systems. The losers will be the companies that underestimate the power of a dissatisfied customer and fail to upgrade their current measurement systems."


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