Is there a link between Apple's strong quarter-on-quarter growth and achieving a 10-point lead over its closest rival on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)? You bet!
In the poll, which is carried out quarterly, Apple achieved a customer satisfaction score of 85 (a record in the personal computer category), a score that was 10 points ahead of Dell, 12 points ahead of HP, and 13 points ahead of Gateway.
In terms of keeping the people who are unlimbering their wallets and spending money on products, Apple is doing very well indeed. I'm not going to suggest for one moment that Apple is immune to problems (the company isn't, as fiascos such as MobileMe demonstrates), but the company is, on the whole, doing a very good job of keeping customers happy. In fact, Apple is one of the best companies when it comes to giving customers a no-quibble replacement product when things go wrong. While I've come into contact with a lot of people who have had problems with their Apple products, in almost all cases those people have had their problem dealt with and gone away feeling good. There's not one other company that I can think of that comes close to Apple in this regard.
Happy customers are one of the best ways for any company to recruit other customers.