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Satisfaction Index: Whirlpool Leading, GE Closing
Sep 27, 2010
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Customer satisfaction improved for major household appliances and is at or near all-time highs for personal computers and big-ticket consumer electronics such as televisions, according to the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). ACSI said its results may point to better future demand for these durable products.

Customer satisfaction with major appliances such as refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers improved 1.2% to 82 in this report, matching a 10-year high.

Whirlpool has the top spot in the industry rankings, with an unchanged rating of 83. 2010 is the fifteenth consecutive year that Whirlpool has had at least a share of the industry lead in the report.

GE closed the gap with Whirlpool, gaining 5% to achieve a rating of 81, and rebounding from a big drop in last years report. GE’s climb ties it with the aggregate of all smaller appliance makers, which improved 3% in the report to achieve a rating of 81. Electrolux's rating was unchanged at 79, matching a five-year low.

“In order for demand to rebound, consumers must exhibit an increased desire to spend and have the means to do so,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “ACSI data suggest that for durables, the first condition has been met in the form of higher customer satisfaction. Whether this will translate into increased consumer demand will depend on positive movement in the factors that impact the means to spend: employment, wages and access to credit.”

Satisfaction with personal computers surged 4.0% to match the all-time industry high of 78 on the ACSI’s 0-to-100-point scale. Apple gained 2% to reach its highest rating ever at 86, and putting it in the top position on the ACSI rankings for the seventh consecutive year.

Apple's 86 is also 9 points ahead of its nearest competitors, making it the biggest gap in the rankings. ACSI noted that many Windows-based machines improved their rankings and no brand saw declines.

Second place at a ranking of 77 is a three-way tie: Dell improved 3%, while Acer (Gateway and eMachines) and the HP division of Hewlett-Packard both rose 4% to reach 77.

These companies are joined by the aggregate of all smaller PC makers, such as Sony and Toshiba, which gained 4% to 77.

“Windows-based PC brands appear to have recovered from the problems associated with the Windows Vista software,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “Barely a year into the release of Windows 7, satisfaction with these brands has returned to, and in some cases even surpassed, the levels prior to the launch of Vista.”

Satisfaction with home electronics such as TVs and DVD or Blu-ray Disc players increased 2.4% to 85, the best-ever score for the category and the highest level of customer satisfaction for any ACSI industry this report.

Greater affordability has made these products more attractive, ACSI said, translating into better value for money, with a positive effect on customer satisfaction.

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