Customer satisfaction with e-business tumbles to its lowest score since 2003 according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report released today in partnership with customer experience analytics firm ForeSee. E-business - which includes portals and search engines, social media, and online news and information websites - drops 3.9% to 71.3 on ACSI's 100-point scale. Research suggests that the proliferation of advertising is diminishing the customer experience, especially among search engines.
Twenty-two percent of search engine visitors cited advertisements as what they liked least about the site. Three out of five social media site visitors surveyed said they do not pay attention to ads on the site, and one in five said ads interfere with their experience.
"Advertising may be the necessary evil of e-business," said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. "Most e-businesses begin as a free service to gain traction with consumers and increase market share, but eventually they need to find a way to monetize their business. Unfortunately, consumers generally perceive the increase in advertising as detracting from their online experience."
"From 10,000 feet, the erosion of customer satisfaction with e-business suggests that the sector will have a bumpy road ahead. But the battle for customer preference is playing out at the customer-level," said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and chairman. "Companies that can find a way to make money without compromising the customer experience will please both its users and investors."
Portals & Search Engines The decline in e-business is largely due to falling customer satisfaction with search engines and portals, the largest category of the sector. A 3.8% drop to 76 makes it the lowest score for the category since 2007 as every measured website drops in satisfaction. Google remains the most satisfying search engine, despite a 6% slide to 77. But its primary rivals Bing (-6%) and Yahoo! (-3%) also decline and tie for second at 76. MSN and AOL are also-rans with scores of 74 and 71, while the aggregate of smaller portals and search engines like GoodSearch and MetaCrawler dive 13% to 70.
"The satisfaction scores make it appear to be a closer race, but it is still only a battle for second when it comes to search engines," said Freed. "Nearly half of Google visitors use the site for most of their searches, while no other search engine comes even close to that kind of loyalty. Lower satisfaction across the board is leading more consumers to use multiple search engines or try a vertical search approach to get the information they're looking for, though this is less true for Google."
Social Media Despite its popularity and widespread adoption, social media continues to provide one of the least satisfying experiences in all of the ACSI. The category dips 1.4% to 68, putting social media on par with subscription TV service and rating better than only ISPs. Wikipedia retains its top position with an unchanged score of 78. Pinterest climbs 4% to 72, four points behind the industry leader but enough to give it second place. Google+ loses its "newness" and settles at 71 from its debut at the top of the industry last year, tying YouTube which is down 3%. Twitter (+2% to 65), Facebook (+2% to 62) and LinkedIn (-2% to 62) are the poorest performers of the category and also some of the
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