RealTime IT News

What Gives, Google?

Nobody satisfies its customers more than Yahoo. Not even Google.

The University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, released today, reveals Yahoo beat Google in customer satisfaction 79 to 78. and Google dropped 3.7 percent.

Larry Freed, online satisfaction expert and president and CEO of ForeSee Results, which sponsors the ACSI e-business report, attributed Yahoo's gains to a successful update to its homepage.

Yahoo, whose score was a 4 percent increase over last year's, also introduced a new advertising platform in 2007, which might have helped its results.

Google's score is down 3.7 percent from last year, the second decline in a row, which Freed blamed on high customer expectations for Google's services.

"Satisfaction is a combination of what you get and what you expect," Freed told internetnews.com. "You may have a better experience at a corner diner because your expectations for the service were less than they would be for a five-star restaurant. But on an even playing field, the five-star restaurant would win every time."

A Google spokesperson told internetnews.com that the company is all for competition, as it forces it to work on providing the best online experience for its users and helps drive market innovation.

Still, Freed said, Google needs to do a better job of making customers aware of its product offerings. Many customers go to Google.com and see the same search box they did five years ago and don't realize the company has more to offer, Freed said.

"Google has done a great job in the background. Their systems are great. AdWords is phenomenal. But the average consumer is looking at it and going, 'Hm. It's kind of the same. There's nothing different.'"

Some Google customers complain the company is too quick to experiment with new products it won't sustain. When Google shuttered its Google Video sales and rental business on Friday, users posted angry reactions to the company's discussion boards.

"This is really upsetting," one user wrote. "I have personally 'sold' Google products to my friends and family because I trusted you to make smart, fair and honest decisions."

But if customers are in fact dissatisfied with Google, it hasn't kept them from using the site's search engine. According to comScore, 49.5 percent of online searches in June went through Google. The next highest figure was 25.1 percent for Yahoo.

Search engine Ask.com, which was the biggest gainer of all on the ASCI, saw 5 percent of June Internet searches.

The ASCI also measures customer satisfaction for news on information sites ABCNews.com (74), MSNBC.com (74), CNN.com (73), NYTimes.com (73) and USAToday.com (72).

Customer satisfaction with the e-business category overall slipped for the first time this year, falling more than a point to 75.2, lower than the ACSI national average across all industries (75.3) and the latest ACSI average score for e-commerce companies (80).