Which IT vendors offer the best and worst customer service?

Survey of IT professionals says Microsoft, Cisco offer best customer service; SAS, Apple can expect most repeat business

Tech vendors looking to bounce back from the recession might consider investing a few more dollars in improving customer service. According to a survey of IT professionals, most tech companies are offering merely an adequate customer service experience. Yet IT shops tend to steer their limited budget dollars toward vendors that offer not just the best products, but also the best customer service experiences. Even as large enterprise providers consolidate, IT still has clout -- and is using it.

The new report from Temkin Group found that only Microsoft's business application division, Microsoft's server division, Cisco, and IBM SPSS earned rankings of Excellent for customer experience they provided (a score of 71 percent of higher). Twenty companies came away with Okay ratings (a range of 61 percent to 70, including Intel, Oracle, Apple, EMC, Dell, Citrix, and Red Hat); 36 were slapped with Poor (51 percent through 60, including Salesforce.com, McAfee, Adobe, and Symantec) or Very Poor customer-experience ratings (including Capgemini, Fujitsu, Novell, ACS, Software AG, Hitachi, Alcatel-Lucent, and Open Text).

Each company's customer experience ranking (referred to as the Temkin Experience Ranking in the report) was based on customers' ratings of three things: Functional experience (i.e. "did you accomplish what you wanted to?"), accessible experience (i.e. "how easy was it to interact with the company?"), and emotional experience (i.e. "how did you feel about the interactions?")

Temkin also asked respondents whether or not they planned to do repeat business with the tech vendors they rated. For the most part, Temkin found a correlation between customer experience scores and purchase momentum scores, which was calculated by taking the percentage of respondents who planned to spend more with a company, then subtract the percentage who planned to spend less.

For example, Microsoft's business applications division and Cisco both earned customer experience scores of 72 percent. Cisco earned the second-highest customer momentum score (39 percent), and Microsoft's business apps division tied for the third highest with 37 percent. IBM SPSS, which earned an Excellent customer experience rating, secured a momentum score of 34 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, Compuware had a customer experience score of 43 percent, putting it in dead last, and customer momentum score of -4 percent (25 percent of respondents planned to spend more with the company but 29 percent planned to spend less). Alcatel-Lucent's customer experience rating was also 49 percent, but its customer momentum score was six percent.

The results held some interesting outliers as well. Three companies had higher purchase momentum than their customer experience would suggest, according to Temkin, including Software AG (experience rating of 49 percent and purchase momentum of 29 percent); Terradata (experience rating of 57 percent and purchase momentum of 36 percent), and SAS Institute (experience rating of 59 percent and purchase momentum of 42 percent).

On the other hand, HP's purchase momentum score of 18 percent was lower than its experience rating of 67 percent might suggest. Part of that might have to do with the fact that HP's reputation has taken some damage in recent months, what with the uncertainty of its PC division and its failure with WebOS.

Also noteworthy: SAS Institute and Apple tied for the highest customer momentum at scores of 42 percent. Apple had a customer experience score of 67 percent -- the same as HP's, in fact -- while SAS was in the Poor zone at 59 percent.

The top 13 companies, based on customer experience:

  1. Microsoft business applications, 72 percent
  2. Cisco, 72 percent
  3. IBM SPSS, 71 percent
  4. Microsoft servers, 71 percent
  5. Microsoft desktop software, 69 percent
  6. IBM software other than SPSS, 69 percent
  7. Intel, 69 percent
  8. Oracle business applications, 68 percent
  9. HP products, 67 percent
  10. VMware, 67 percent
  11. Google, 67 percent
  12. Apple, 67 percent
  13. Oracle database software, 67 percent

The top companies based on customer momentum scores:

  1. SAS, 42 percent
  2. Apple, 42 percent
  3. Cisco, 39 percent
  4. Microsoft business applications, 37 percent
  5. Microsoft servers, 37 percent
  6. Teradata, 36 percent
  7. Microsoft desktop software, 36 percent
  8. VMware, 35 percent
  9. Intel, 35 percent
  10. SAP analytics, 35 percent
  11. Google, 35 percent

The companies with the lowest customer experience scores (from lowest to highest):

  1. Compuware, 43 percent
  2. Capgemini, 48 percent
  3. Fujitsu, 48 percent
  4. Novell, 49 percent
  5. ACS, 49 percent
  6. Software AG, 49 percent
  7. Hitachi, 49 percent
  8. Alcatel-Lucent, 49 percent
  9. Open Text, 49 percent
  10. Tata Consulting Services, 50 percent
  11. CGI, 50 percent
  12. Wipro, 50 percent
  13. Sybase, 50 percent
  14. Pitney Bowes, 50 percent

The companies with the lowest customer momentum scores (from lowest to highest):

  1. Compuware, -4 percent
  2. Alcatel-Lucent, 6 percent
  3. Sybase, 8 percent
  4. Symantec, 9 percent
  5. Novell, 10 percent
  6. Qualcomm, 10 percent
  7. Pitney-Bowes, 10 percent
  8. McAfee, 11 percent
  9. Autodesk, 12 percent
  10. CGI, 12 percent

More information can be found in the "2012 Temkin Experience Ratings of Tech Vendors."

This story, "Which IT vendors offer the best and worst customer service?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.