Samsung clearly hit a home run with its Galaxy S III and Note II. Now, news headlines are proclaiming what Samsung wants to hear -- that it beat out Apple in the customer satisfaction realm. But is the survey accurate? And even if it's not, does it send a message to Apple?
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Samsung's flagship model for 2012, the S III, received a benchmark of 84 on a 0 to 100 scale. That beats Apple's iPhone 5 at 82. Meanwhile, another Samsung model, the Note II, shares the top of the list at 84. Galaxy S IV is not included because the ACSI study was fielded just prior to its launch.
The iPhone 4S matches its successor -- iPhone 5 -- with an ACSI score of 82. Apple's iPhone 4 is just a point below at 81. On the other hand, at a score of 78, customer satisfaction with the Galaxy S II, precursor to the S III, is lower.
A Wake Up Call for Apple
"Not only does Samsung edge ahead of all iPhones, Apple customers themselves don't see much difference between the iPhone 4, 4S or 5," said ACSI Director David VanAmburg. "The latest earnings report from Apple was better than expected, but the name of the game for Apple has always been innovation. Samsung, on the other hand, shows a strong upward ACSI trend from the Galaxy S II to the Galaxy S III. If the S IV performs as well -- or even better -- in the eyes of customers, Samsung could threaten Apple's dominance in overall customer satisfaction."
But Roger Entner, senior analyst at Recon Analytics, has some questions about the survey. He told us if ACSI asked 1,000 people then the margin of error is 3 percent and it would be a statistical tie between Apple and Samsung. The former Nielsen analyst said ACSI would have to ask more than 5,000 people if there is a meaningful difference.
"It worked out nicely for the headline, but what is interesting is that historically the iPhone was head above shoulders compared to the rest. What this shows us is that the relative gap between the iPhone and a lot of the Samsung devices has diminished over time and Apple as a premium provider needs to up its game when the iPhone 5S or 6 comes out," Entner said. "It's a wake-up call for Apple." (continued...)
Posted: 2013-08-02 @ 1:56pm PT
"We would like to comment on the satisfaction advantage held by Samsung over Apple in our recent smartphone study. Roger Entner suggests that a sample of 5000 respondents would be needed to declare a significant difference between Apple and Samsung based on the reported satisfaction scores of 84 (Galaxy SIII) and 81 or 82 (iPhone 4, 4S and 5). Mr. Entner seems to assume that these are percentage scores and that ACSI uses a yes/no measure of satisfaction that yields imprecise estimates with large variance. In fact, ACSI uses a more precise multivariate method for estimating mean scores of satisfaction on a 0-100 scale. As such, the difference in scores between Samsung and Apple discussed in the story are indeed significantly different, in a statistical sense, with smaller samples.
Forrest V. Morgeson III, Ph.D.
Director of Research, ACSI"