Yahoo over Google in consumer satisfaction

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In a couple of firsts, Yahoo overtook Google and the entire e-business sector took a hit in terms of consumer satisfaction, according to an annual report released Tuesday.

Other nuggets from the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index, known as ACSI, include a decline for AOL and a boost for Ask.com.

According to the ACSI, Yahoo gained 3 points from last year to this year, on a scale of 0-100, in customer satisfaction, scoring 79, while Google dropped 3 points to 78, the lowest Google has scored since ACSI began collecting e-business data in 2000.

ACSI is based on data from ForeSee Results, which interviews 70,000 customers annually. Its e-business report polled 250 Internet users.

According to the report, AOL saw the biggest decline in customer satisfaction, dropping from 74 to 67 and putting it just two points higher than the Internal Revenue Service.

"AOL could be in big trouble," the report says. "Its search function clearly loses to Google's. Its portal is inferior to Yahoo's."

That being said, it's too early to count AOL out, as its transition from a subscription-based service to an ad-based service is still quite young.

"AOL has proven to be incredibly tenacious as it has gone through a transition that no other compay has made and survived," the report says.

Ask.com, gaining 4 points to 75, saw the biggest gain in customer satisfaction.

On whole, e-business, which includes online news, e-commerce, search and portals, saw a drop in score to 75.2 from 76.5 last year, its first ever decline.

Portals and search engines as a group lost 2 points to 75, its first drop.

Comparing 2000 with 2007, Ask.com is the victor when it comes to gaining ground quickly while Yahoo takes the crown for highest satisfaction score, displacing Google.

Ask.com's score has risen 21% from 2000 and AOL's has risen 19.6% since then. Yahoo is up 6.8% and MSN is up 5.6%, while Google, which started in 2002 at a higher score than the others, has lost 2.5%.

According to ACSI, its data is forward looking and is an accurate predictor of both growth and stock prices, which could be good news for long-suffering Yahoo shareholders.

"Yahoo's fortunes may again be on the rise, even as it suffers a beating in the financial press," the ACSI study says.
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