According to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) study, ebusinesses are getting better overall in the view of their customers, but performance varies widely from company to company. The report, which includes measurements of search engines, portals, and online news and information Web sites as part of the ebusiness category, identifies a few outstanding performers and shows that Google, Yahoo!, and others are changing their business models without losing customer satisfaction and loyalty, while other companies lag behind.
According to the study, Google and Yahoo! have scores that place them among the best performers of any of the roughly 200 top companies the ACSI measures on an annual basis. The new report revealed that AOL, though still a weak performer, has made a dramatic improvement in the past year. News and information Web sites maintain a solid showing but demonstrate none of the signs that they dramatically impress their customers like the best Internet companies.
Overall, the ACSI ebusiness industry score improved over last year, up to 71.4 from 68.7 in 2002 (on a scale from 0-100). The ebusiness industry score trails the national ACSI score (73.8), which aggregates all industries measured by the Index, both online and traditional. Both the ebusiness score and the national average are dramatically below the rating consumers gave ecommerce (77.6) in a report released in February 2003.
Search Engines: Google has consistently been far and away the best performer in this category (82), and one of the best in any category measured by the ACSI. Ask Jeeves improved its performance seven points, up to 69, but nowhere near enough to make a dent in Google's lead. The other company named in the report, Alta Vista, trailed badly, earning only a 63. Both search engines lag "all others" in the category, mostly niche players who collectively earned a 78.
Portals: According to the study, AOL is the most surprising story this quarter with a dramatic six-point jump in performance. The increase brings AOL's score to 65. Yahoo! remains the dominant player in the category (78), with a two-point improvement over last year. MSN also moved up two points to 74, staying in the game but making no net headway. The score to beat among portals is 79, the average of other, smaller players measured as part of the ACSI sample.
News and Information: News and information sites proved to be solid, if unexciting, performers. MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com tied at 74, followed closely by CNN.com and USAToday.com, which tied at 72. There was little change upward or downward in the category. NYTimes.com brings up the rear again this year with a score of 70, down one point from last year.
All categories are measured once per year. The e-business portion of this report from the University of Michigan was co-sponsored by ForeSee Results. Michigan produces the ACSI in partnership with ASQ and the CFI Group each quarter.