The secret to Google's
Just the facts, ma'am
According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report from the University of Michigan, the e-business sector scored 6% higher as a whole than it did in the 2007 report. But Google stands for most of that sector improvement, rising from 78 to 86 points on a 100-point scale. It is the only company scoring above the industry average, and it blows away the previous record score of 80, set by Yahoo! back in 2005.
The ACSI benchmark derives its scores from phone interviews with random consumers and has been around for 13 years now. To put Google's mark in perspective, 278 of the world's finest businesses got a score last year, and only six of them landed a rating of 87 points or more. So big G is still chasing the likes of H.J. Heinz
What's the big deal?
These figures provide proof of Google's dominance in the Internet search market, augmenting signals from straight-up data points like traffic share reports. Satisfied information seekers will continue to go back to the search engine that has become synonymous with Web searching in general. (Have you ever said that you will "MSN Live" or "Yahoo" some obscure tidbit?)
A growing and already nearly monopolistic market share makes the attached advertising engine more powerful as well, because advertisers big and small realize that they need to include Google in their online marketing plans. In the auction-style bidding for popular keywords that follows, higher demand for the best eyeball magnets automatically drives up the ad rates, making Google richer and more efficient at every turn. It's a pretty sweet deal, and mighty Microsoft can only wish that it held this monetization power over its own stream of attentive Windows users. And it's all built on the simple concept of common people walking away happy and satisfied with their Google experience.
But wait -- there's more!
If you think that this is an impressive company today, just wait awhile and prepare to be blown away. Google founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt have a seriously long-term plan in mind, and we're only four years into the threesome's famed 20-year commitment to the Mountain View search giant.
That's long enough to make a difference, though. Google is securing unique information sources all over the place, driving around with cameras to get street-view imagery of the world we live in and co-funding a satellite launch for exclusive access to a military-grade bird's-eye view. The Android cell-phone platform is about to hit store shelves, the company already sells some TV and radio advertising, and the growing arsenal of cloud computing tools like Gmail and Google Docs is threatening to overthrow Mr. Softy in his own throne room.
None of these projects will bring about a new world order overnight, and Google better be careful to take it slow. Get too drastic, and those happy customers start to feel threatened. If they take their searches elsewhere, Google would not be able to finish the big picture it's working on today. That's why Brin and Page pay attention to these satisfaction surveys, and why you should, too.
But with those caveats, as long as Google's scores are on the up-and-up, so is the company's long-term prospects. Right now, the future has never looked brighter -- and the stock is cheap, too. What are you waiting for? This Rule Breaker is up for grabs!
H.J. Heinz is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google and Netflix, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Yeah, OK, he drives a Toyota and eats ketchup on occasion. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure can't get no satisfaction.