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 Dell Ranks Highest In Customer Satisfaction as Ease of Use Becomes
 Less Important in Terms of Brand Differentiation
 AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- J.D. Power and Associates announced today that Dell Computer Corp. ranks highest in customer satisfaction based upon the 1993 Desktop Personal Computer Satisfaction Study(SM). According to the third annual independently funded assessment of nearly 2,000 users at office-based businesses, the rapid acceptance of Microsoft Windows among users of PC-compatible computers has changed the user dynamics of satisfaction. This study shows a reduction in the impact of the "Ease of Use" factor as a differentiator in overall customer satisfaction.
 The results of the study show that "User Support" has displaced "Ease of Use" as the key area of differentiation among business users' overall satisfaction with their PC. In 1992, "Ease of Use" represented 45 percent of the end user's overall satisfaction. However, in 1993 business users indicate that "Ease of Use" makes up only 18 percent of their overall customer satisfaction.
 "The introduction of more sophisticated computer chips combined with the ballooning popularity of Windows has substantially reduced the differences between Macintosh and PC compatible computers in key areas such as Ease of Use," said J.D. Power III, President and Founder, J.D. Power and Associates. "As Ease of Use and Technical Performance approach parity among personal computers, a significant number of our survey respondents reveal a need for user support services."
 The business user's responses determined six key factor areas which drive customer satisfaction with PCs. They are: User Support (26 percent); Ease of Use (18 percent); Reliability (18 percent); Technical Fit (18 percent); Compatibility (12 percent); and Documentation (8 percent). Among the key areas composing the "User Support" factor are: the ability of vendor to resolve hardware problems, the professionalism and technical expertise of vendor's phone support staff and the ability of the vendor to understand customer needs. Letting the user define the factors of satisfaction is part of the unique J.D. Power and Associates methodology.
 According to the 1993 J.D. Power and Associates Desktop Personal Computer Satisfaction Index, Dell computer ranked highest in customer satisfaction with an index score of 121. Dell was followed by Compaq at 118 and Gateway at 103. The following PC companies ranked below the industry average of 100 (In Alphabetical Order): Apple, AST, CompuAdd, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Packard Bell. J.D. Power and Associates does not reveal the performance of PC companies ranking below the industry average.
 According to the study, there has been a change in the importance of the various types of channels selling personal computers (e.g. direct, traditional dealers, value-added resellers, new retail formats). Furthermore, customer satisfaction levels differ substantially by the type of channel in which the computer was purchased. The sales channels with which business users indicated experiencing the highest levels of customer satisfaction are Direct Sales, followed by Value-Added Resellers and Retail Stores.
 "User involvement throughout the purchasing and ownership cycle is critical," said Power. "Companies that wish to maintain or improve high customer satisfaction levels must commit to developing and implementing creative and effective ways of increasing customer involvement."
 As a general rule, the study reports, high levels of user involvement in the purchase decision process lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction. "Direct Sales" channels, with their higher levels of user involvement during the purchasing process, allow the vendor to optimize both the "performance" and "expectations" components of the customer satisfaction equation.
 J.D. Power and Associates is an international marketing information firm
with headquarters in Agoura Hills. The firm also has offices in

Detroit; Palo Alto, Calif.; Torrance, Calif.; Westport, Conn.; and Tokyo. J.D. Power and Associates is best known for its marketing information, consulting and measurement expertise in the areas of consumer opinion and customer satisfaction.
 -0- 9/14/93
 /CONTACT: Patricia A. Patano or Jim Olson, 818-889-6330/

CO: J.D. Power and Associates; Dell Computer Corp. ST: California IN: CPR SU:

MF-LM -- LA012 -- 1616 09/14/93 09:05 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 14, 1993

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