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Dell leads satisfaction survey

IT managers like Dell's service, according to the study, but competitors such as IBM and Compaq continue to improve.

Dell is No. 1 in satisfying corporate information technology managers, according to a new survey, but competitors such as IBM and Compaq continue to improve in such areas as price, hardware reliability, and technical support.

Dell took the top spot for customer service in its notebook, server, and desktop divisions this quarter, according to the new survey of corporate buyers from Technology Business Research, with customers giving the computer maker high marks for availability, ease of set-up, reliability, pricing, and volume discounting.

Dell is perceived as the best all-around notebook vendor, TBR found.

"Dell does on-site service and provides loaner units, which is a plus with notebooks because it's usually executives who use them and can't be without them," said Julie Perron, manager of primary research for TBR. "It's a perception of how Dell handles their customers. If a notebook fails more often, but is taken care of more quickly, the user sees it as a reliable notebook."

Customer satisfaction scores
Notebooks Q2 Score Q3 Score % Change
Compaq 71.68 79.09 10.3
Dell 84.05 84.71 0.8
IBM 77.14 82.82 7.4
Toshiba 72.79 76.37 4.9
Desktops Q2 Score Q3 Score % Change
Compaq 79.92 79.96 0
Dell 83.91 86.2 2.7
Gateway 78.72 80.03 1.6
Hewlett-Packard 80.65 83.35 3.3
IBM 76.6 82.27 7.4
Source: TBR

IBM made the biggest strides in keeping its customers happy last quarter, jumping more than 7 percent in notebooks and desktops and almost 5 percent in servers. IBM's hardware reliability was praised by most of its customers, and its support, including global support and repair time, received higher scores than Dell.

Compaq made huge gains in its notebook business, with customers giving the company high marks for support and reliability, a 10 percent increase over the previous quarter. However, Compaq still has a ways to go, the survey indicated.

"While Compaq's notebook satisfaction score increased by 10 percent over the previous quarter, customers continue to indicate there are problems with hardware reliability, price performance, cost of ownership, and volume discounting," said the TBR report, problems shared by Toshiba, who was also dinged for poor product availability in its notebook category.

"Availability with notebooks tends to be an issue with everyone except for Dell," Perron said. Toshiba was also criticized for its lack of volume pricing.

On the Intel-based server front, Dell, Compaq, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard were separated by less than 3 points, TBR found, with all companies scoring almost 84 points.