Apple prides itself on offering award-winning customer service, with the iPhone alone having received nine straight J. D. Power and Associates awards for customer satisfaction. In a rather shocking turn of events, although, a new study shows that Apple has been dethroned from its position as number one in customer service.
The latest smartphone brand study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) shows that Samsung has topped Apple, with strong performances from its Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II handsets. The aforementioned devices each received a score of 84 out of 100, while the iPhone 5 trailed closely behind at 82.
ACSI Director David VanAmburg perceives this as a threat to Apple:
“Not only does Samsung edge ahead of all iPhones, Apple customers themselves don’t see much difference between the iPhone 4, 4S or 5,” says ACSI Director David VanAmburg. “The latest earnings report from Apple was better than expected, but the name of the game for Apple has always been innovation. Samsung, on the other hand, shows a strong upward ACSI trend from the Galaxy S II to the Galaxy S III. If the S4 performs as well—or even better—in the eyes of customers, Samsung could threaten Apple’s dominance in overall customer satisfaction.”
Ironically, Apple maintains a higher customer satisfaction score in Korea, the home turf of rival Samsung. According to the National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) of South Korea, which uses similar methodologies as the ASCI, iPhone customers are more satisfied than Galaxy S III users.
Meanwhile, the Droid Razr and Droid Razr Maxx HD scored 77 and 80 on the ASCI scale respectively. BlackBerry devices finished much lower than competition, with the Curve scoring 67 and the Bold scoring 64. Overall, smartphone users were much more satisfied than those with feature phones.
“While feature phones are cheaper, and therefore viewed by many customers as better value, smartphones excel in quality,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and Chairman. “Smartphones receive strong marks for feature variety, design and ease of use, with battery life as their only real shortcoming.”
While these studies are useful to some degree, they are also limited in scope. The ASCI only surveys some 80,000 consumers in the United States per year, and those respondents are likely scattered across several studies. For that reason, I don’t think Apple has any reason to be concerned. But the company does need to remain one step ahead of competition if it wishes to remain the best in business.
In the second half of this year, we’ll see if that proves to be true.