Facebook bombs on customer satisfaction, says ACSI; On par with airlines

What does Facebook have in common with airlines, the IRS and cable companies? Dreadful customer satisfaction scores, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Facebook may be the most popular Web site in America, but its customer satisfaction score is in the dumps. In fact, Facebook's customer satisfaction rating is below IRS e-file and in the same ballpark as airlines and cable companies, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The ACSI gives Facebook a score of 64 on a 100 point scale. That tally puts Facebook in the bottom 5 percent of all measured private sector companies. For context, Facebook is right down there with airlines and cable companies, two sectors with an average score of 66. At least Facebook isn't alone. MySpace had a score of 63.

ACSI is a national economic indicator of customer satisfaction and was founded by the Michigan Ross School of Business. This is the first time ACSI ranked social media sites in its e-business ratings.

The ACSI didn't measure Twitter---largely because the service is often accessed through third party apps---but Wikipedia led the social media category with a score of 77. YouTube checked in with a score of 73 and MySpace had 63.

Why the poor results for social media sites? For Facebook, it's possible that its recent privacy problems and frequent policy and site changes have hurt customer satisfaction. MySpace may have similar issues or be viewed as too cluttered. Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results, which conducts the rankings, attributed Facebook's scores to the following:

  • Frequent changes to the site;
  • Advertising intruding on customer satisfaction;
  • And privacy concerns.

University of Michigan business professor Claes Fornell said:

Facebook, which boasts approximately 500 million registered users worldwide, was the upstart to MySpace’s market leader just 5 years ago, but these roles now have been reversed. Still, controversies over privacy issues, frequent changes to user interfaces, and increasing commercialization have positioned the big social networking sites at satisfaction levels well below other websites and similar to poor-performing industries like airlines and subscription TV service (both 66). While privately-held Facebook continues to attract new members from virtually all age groups, MySpace’s dwindling traffic and page views may soon cost the website (owned by media giant News Corp.) its once-lucrative advertising partnership with Google.

In this ranking, the ACSI also rated portals and search engines with a score of 80, down from 86 a year ago. Microsoft's Bing had a score of 77 followed by Yahoo at 76 and AOL and Ask.com at 74 and 73, respectively.

Regarding Google, Fornell said:

The drop for Google may be related to efforts to expand well beyond its core search engine business. With the introduction in recent years of services like email (Gmail), instant messaging (Google Talk), social networking (Google Buzz), and even a Web browser (Google Chrome), Google now offers a full range of Internet services. But in trying to become all things to all people, Google seems to have encountered some of the pitfalls that portals and social media sites face including concerns about privacy, which have led to an upswing in complaints about Google’s policies and practices in the past year.

And the rankings for news properties.

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