Surveys, I often find, manage to arrive at the most unexpected of conclusions. This could be down to the questions that are asked being worded in such a way to solicit a politically or commercially acceptable result. It could be down to the fact that people do not tell the truth (has the average man really slept with 423 women, and if so why has the average woman only slept with 4 men?) However, I suspect the real reason, more often than not, is simply that I try to second-guess what the public are thinking: and that is always a dangerous game to play.

However, why not play along anyway? Here is the question, in the following three categories which company has the most loyal customers?

  • Computing
  • Consumer Software
  • Online Services

Who do you reckon it might be? In computing, I guessed Dell (the business was built on wafer thin margins and brick thick word of mouth, and continues down the same path.) Consumer Software surely had to be Microsoft look at all those folk who religiously upgrade their Office suites, only ever use the IE browser, and are Windows OS junkies.) Moreover, as for Online Services who else but Google (which remains the search engine everyone recommends to their elderly parents, and uses every day even if they claim not to.)

I got one out of three, and that was Google. Apparently, according to the results of this particular survey by Satmetrix, Apple was the computer company we all love to love. In fact, Satmetrix state that Apple ‘far outranked’ its closest competitor. In hindsight, I really should have seen that one coming.

Nevertheless, who in their right mind would have thought that Symantec would scoop the honors in the Consumer Software section? Let me repeat that, because I did say what you could not believe: Symantec. They had a Net Promoter Score, measured by tracking customer experience based upon who would recommend to a friend and who would warn to keep clear, of 60%. That is remarkably high for such a competitive market sector, and simply astonishing for Symantec. This same company has had to make a special tool available for download to remove product from users’ computers because it cannot cleanly remove itself. This is the same company which accounts for at least 25% of all the ‘security suite complaint’ emails I get from readers of the various publications I write for. This is the same company which is reinventing its security suite as a leaner online service based product to escape the public image of bloat.

Not that I have anything against Symantec as a company, in fact I admire the work it does behind the scenes at the various Threat Response Centers (and I have visited the Dublin and Santa Monica ones personally, so admire the staff there as well.) I admire many of the directors who are ‘good people’ who listen to me when I moan at them about their products, and sometimes even act upon those complaints. But I will never in a million years understand how, given the bad press and level of bad feeling online, Symantec could win a popularity contest. Please tell me I am not the only one who did not see that one coming! If not, I think perhaps I should hang up my IT pundit’s hat…

You can prove anything with a survey if you only word the questions correctly.

If you want Symantec to score high in customer satisfaction, just put them on top of a list of companies that noone ever heard of for example.
Everyone will either check them or "other" (if supplied) apart from a few nerds who do happen to know one of the others or just check a random one.

Apple has an extremely loyal customer base, far more so than does Dell.
Most are in fact religious Mac-fanatics, and seem on some kind of Jihad to rid the world of all other computers by whatever means it takes.
They'll never (at least openly) complain about Apple.
Dell users OTOH are far more vocal, and most will buy another brand if they can get a better deal elsewhere.

(has the average man really slept with 423 women, and if so why has the average woman only slept with 4?)

Worded like that, the average man has slept with 423 women (a ridiculously high number), and the average woman with 4 other women...
Just goes to show that a higher percentage of men are straight than the percentage of lesbian or bisexual women, something that probably won't surprise most people :)

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