Computers have become a standard appliance in most households, and Apple is the leader across the buying experience — though Dell and HP are not far behind, according to a new report from the Temkin Group (, a customer experience research and consulting firm.

The report compares the customer satisfaction of the leading computer suppliers in five stages of the consumers buying process. It also examines influences and decision factors on the consumer buying decision by major computer manufacturers. The Temkin Group finds that Apple consumers care more about customer service than PC buyers, consumers that buy PCs directly from the manufacturer are more satisfied than those that buy at a retailer and Best Buy employees are more helpful than those at other retailers.

Apple’s largest satisfaction gap with PC makers shows up in customer service and the smallest gaps are with the buying process and with the computer itself, says the research group. HP and Dell are much more competitive with Apple than are “other” PC makers, the report says.

“HP outpaces Apple when it comes to the process of purchasing the computer and Dell is only one percentage point behind Apple when it comes to the ease of setting up a computer,” says the Temkin Group. “Buyers of all three brands are equally satisfied with the computer they purchased.”