Last week, as Facebook celebrated the half-billion user milestone, a consumer satisfaction study placed Facebook’s “Like” rating down in the bottom 5% of surveyed companies. ReadWriteWeb points out that this puts them on par with cable companies, airline companies, and the IRS.
Those are interesting company for the social network. There’s a parallel between Facebook lessening their privacy policies to better monetize their users and airlines adding additional fees for checked bags, carry-on bags, and eventually suitcases that you keep at your house and don’t bring to the airport. Facebook’s reaction has been similar to a cable company that asks a customer to be available from eight to four for a service call and doesn’t show.
The dissatisfaction is likely chronic for as long as Facebook tries to make money, and there’s two ways that type of customer dissatisfaction might play out. The first is that users leave the service. Facebook runs its course and becomes the next Yahoo! or AOL, a shell of its former self as internetters flock to the next big thing. It doesn’t go away, but former Facebook employees talk about the glory days the way Frankie Five Angels Pentangeli wistfully compares the Corleone family to the Roman Empire at the end of The Godfather Part II.
The alternative is that Facebook becomes an acceptable evil – that users can always find something to complain about, but nothing that drives them away. In the same way that spam doesn’t lead to an exodus from email, people stay on Facebook because it’s the easiest way to connect with friends.
In that way, the best comparison to Facebook from among the entities with similarly low satisfaction rates may be the IRS. No one likes it, but everyone still uses it – and it’s probably not going anywhere.