In trying to be everything, Yahoo! is not so stellar at anything, while MSN suffers from its own lack of personality. Those were some of the findings of a report out today called the American Customer Satisfaction Index, produced by the University of Michigan.
MSN scored 74 points out of 100, a slight drop from last year, but its scores have stayed relatively flat since 2003. Interestingly, the report noted that linking Microsoft's desktop brand to MSN holds little benefit for "consumers who embracing the flexibility of the Internet."
"What we hear is they seem to have a lack of personality and unique advantages," said Claes Fornell, a business professor and head of ASCI. "There is nothing to truly set MSN apart from the rest of the field."
Yahoo! had the largest decline in customer satisfaction of any Internet company in the survey, falling from 80 to 76.
"Yahoo! seems to be trying to do too many things for too many people," Fornell said.
Meanwhile, Google continued its strong performance with a score of 81, down a point from the year before, but it led the search engine category.
Companies that performed better than the year before included Apple Computer, which rose from 81 to 83, and Dell, rising from 74 to 78. That is, of course, before the battery fiasco.
Update: Yahoo! responds with data of its own:
"Yahoo! is the only major Internet company to have its average time spent per user increase every quarter over the past year," says spokeswoman Meagan Busath.
That kind of engagement with the portal shows healthy customer satisfaction, she said. Total unique visitors, page views, minutes spent and average usage days per visitor on the Yahoo! home page have all increased since the launch of the new design, she said, citing comScore Media Metrix stats.