Apple Beats Windows Competitors by 12% in American Customers Satisfaction Index

Apple is crushing its Windows-based competition in consumer satisfaction according to the latest American Customers Satisfaction Index (ACSI) results for the June quarter released Tuesday. Apple had a customer satisfaction grade of 84 (out of 100), which compares to 75 for #2 Dell, a 12% difference that the ACSI characterized as, "one of the largest gaps between first and second place for any industry."

The ACSI is a project of the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and CFI Group, and its quarterly reports are based on lengthy surveys of customers in different industries throughout the year.

Apple's score of 84 represents a decline of 1 point, but, according to the ACSI, "the decline has done little to hurt the large lead Apple has enjoyed for six straight years over the Windows-based manufacturers."

The overall satisfaction score in the computer industry was 75, thank in part to gains from Gateway (up three points to 74), HP (up one point to 74), and Compaq (up six points to 74). Dell's 75 was unchanged from the previous ACSI computer survey results.

Apple has long lead most customer satisfaction surveys amongst its PC brethren, but the ACSI results have consistently shown Apple to have the most satisfied customers in the industry.

Still, other industries see higher results. For instance, the auto industry rose two points to get a satisfaction score of 86, much higher than the PC industry's, and the average is higher than even PC-leading Apple's score of 84. Interestingly, American auto makers all posted significant gains in customer satisfaction even while sales plummeted.

Cadillac and Lexus both lead the auto industries with scores of 89, while Buick, Honda and Lincoln Mercury tied for second at 88. Even the lowest scored automaker - Nissan, with a score of 78 - got a better score than any PC maker, other than Apple.