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AOL reaches 11 million mark

The biggest online service reaches 11 million members domestically and abroad and hires an outside firm to gauge customer opinion.

America Online (AOL) today announced that it has 11 million members.

The announcement comes a month after it hit its much-anticipated 10 million-member watermark.

AOL spokeswoman Wendy Goldberg attributed the growth to the surge in mass market interest in the Internet. "The mass market is continuing to come online in larger numbers," she said, pointing to AOL's convenience as a reason for its success.

While AOL is way ahead of its closest competitor, Microsoft Network, it also is probably the most criticized online service.

Members complain about access problems, content, and various policies. But no matter how much they complain, they also tend to stay with AOL.

Some say AOL's leadership position has allowed it to be less than responsive to its customers. Others say the complaints are a sign of AOL's dominance, because they are in direct proportion to its size.

Apparently, AOL wants to find out for sure.

Today the online service also announced that it hired a company to find out just what its members think about it. Decisive Technology will use its customer feedback software to gauge members' opinions about AOL.

Decisive will distribute daily electronic surveys to a sample of AOL members who have called AOL for technical assistance. Presuming that people fill out the surveys, AOL will then get back instantaneous feedback from its members and presumably will use that information to improve service.