Google+’s strong mobile presence helps it beat Facebook in customer satisfaction
By Chantal Tode
July 18, 2012
Google + users like the experience
Google+ is outperforming Facebook when it comes to customer satisfaction and part of the reason why is because of the strong mobile presence Google provides for its social media offering, according to new research from ForeSee Results.
A new report from ForeSee Results shows that Facebook’s customer satisfaction level dropped significantly in the past year, making it the lowest scoring e-business in the report. At the same time, Google+ scored significantly higher than Facebook because users like its strong mobile experience, which is a key advantage as consumer use of social media continues to migrate to mobile.
“Mobile, both phone and tablet are playing a role in the satisfaction,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results, Ann Arbor, MI. “The consequence for those companies that do not get it right is that, as consumers have alternatives, they will go elsewhere.
“Not getting it right on any device or channel is not acceptable to consumers,” he said.
“When a consumer does not have an immediate quick and easy alternative a few things will happen. First, that pent up frustration will translate into action when they are presented with a viable alternative. And second, poor customer experience can lead to less use and potentially negative word of mouth.”
Getting mobile right
In the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report from ForeSee, Facebook’s customer satisfaction level dropped 8 percent for a total of 61 on the 100-point scale. This is a new record low score for the e-business sector and puts Facebook among the five lowest-scoring companies that are measured by the ACSI across industries.
Some of the reasons named by users for their lack of satisfaction with Facebook include frequent changes to its user interface, the appearance of intrusive ads and concerns about Facebook’s stance on privacy.
While Facebook put in a less than stellar performance, newcomer Google+, in its first appearance on the index, had a customer satisfaction score of 78.
Customer accounts suggest that Facebook has failed to capitalize fully on the mobile experience, while Google has fully integrated Google+ into its mobile apps and mobile functionalities.
Google+ is also benefitting from users’ perception that it respects privacy more than Facebook does. Additionally, there are no traditional ads on Google+.
Google+’s score puts it in a tie with Wikipedia as the highest-scoring social media e-business. Google+’s score is also well above both the e-business and social media aggregate scores.
“Google + is showing great growth in their network and doing not as a full assault on Facebook in terms of capabilities, but more of a flanked attack with different positioning and capabilities,” Mr. Freed said.
Foresee expects Google to leverage its mobile capabilities to attract users at a rapid pace.
Poor satisfaction a threat
While Facebook is clearly the leader in terms of market penetration among social networks, its low customer satisfaction score could open the door to another player if Facebook does not do anything to address the situation.
The low customer satisfaction score is another piece of bad news for Facebook, which recently had a poor initial public offering amid reports that the company is losing revenue as use increasingly migrates to mobile.
Other social media sites also did not fare so well in terms of customer satisfaction. YouTube's customer satisfaction level dropped to 73 from 74 while Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn had scores of 69, 64 and 63 respectively.
As a category, social media’s customer satisfaction level is down 1.4 percent to 69. Social media was one of the lowest-scoring categories measured by the ACSI in terms of customer satisfaction. The only industries that underperform social media are subscription television with a score of 66, print newspapers with a score of 65 and airlines with a score of 65.
“T he implications for poor satisfaction is a significant threat to Facebook’s future,” Mr. Freed said. “In the short run it can have a negative impact on consumers use, word of mouth and possibly their openness to consider (and click through) ads.
“In the longer run, when a viable competitive alternative is available, the cost of dissatisfied consumer is a lost customer,” he said. “Today, Facebook has won the ‘network race,’ that is they have built the absolute leading social network in terms of size of participants and breadth of participants.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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