New research suggests that our reliance (OK, addiction) on web news and information may be starting to let us down. The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) reveals that customer satisfaction with e-business is down 0.8 percent to 74.3 on a 100-point scale—the first decline in four years—as a result of user dissatisfaction with news and opinion websites, as well as search engines and information websites. Social media is the only category unaffected.
As users increasingly view social media as a news source, customer satisfaction with social media is stable at an ACSI score of 73.
Twitter posts the largest gain, overtaking Facebook with an 8-percent jump to 70. Google+ may have a smaller user base than other social media sites, but its users are the most satisfied. A site redesign and new features launched in January help boost Google+ to the top of the category (+7% to 81).
In second place, social bookmarking site Pinterest rebounds 3 percent to 78 as a result of improvements in efficiency and search technology. Wikipedia slips 1 percent to 77. The online encyclopedia depends on users for content, but the number of editors is decreasing. This makes it more challenging to maintain quality and trustworthiness. Nevertheless, Wikipedia remains well above the industry average in user satisfaction.
User enhancements and the introduction of “stories” help push Instagram up 1 percent to an ACSI score of 75. YouTube, on the other hand, falls 4 percent to 74, just above the industry average. A year after dropping 9 percent to 68, Facebook is unchanged. While Facebook remains well below its peak score from 2015, it is still ahead of its historic average of 66. LinkedIn stays in last place at 65.
The presidential election boosted news and opinion websites a year ago, but reader perceptions of news outlets have changed
While Twitter is gaining user satisfaction and importance as a major news feed, the websites of traditional news outlets are losing ground. All of the largest websites weaken, dragging customer satisfaction with internet news and opinion down 1.3 percent to 75.
“It is no surprise that opinion beats informational fact in customer satisfaction,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder, in a news release. “As long as there are enough opinion sites available, it is easier to find a match between site and user opinion than it is to match opinion to fact.”
FOXNews.com slumps 3 percent to match the combined score of smaller news websites at 77. ABCNews.com and USAToday.com fall 3 percent each to tie at 74, followed by NYTimes.com (-4% to 73) and MSNBC.com (-6% to 72). CNN.com drops even lower (-5% to 71), but TheHuffingtonPost.com stays in last place with the biggest decline (-7% to 67).
Customer satisfaction with search engines and information websites falls 1.3 percent to 76 as all of the top search engines lose ground. Google slips 2 percent to 82—however, with a 9-point lead over its nearest major competitor, Google faces little threat.
In a draw for second place among the major sites, Microsoft’s Bing is down 3 percent to tie Yahoo! (-1%) at 73. MSN deteriorates the most (-4%), coming in equal to Ask.com (-1%) at 72. AOL is the only search and information site to improve with a 1-percent gain to 70. In last place, Answers.com is down 1 percent to 68.
The ACSI report is based on 4,978 customer surveys collected between June 25, 2016, and May 9, 2017.