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).

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