The Satisfaction Quarterly Report, Q3 2008

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) just released its Q3 2008 report that covers the following sectors: Apparel, athletic shoes, breweries, cigarettes, food manufacturing, personal care & cleaning products, pet food, and soft drinks. Here are some highlights of the new data:

Ratings Of Firms

  • Top rated: HJ Heinz
  • Top rated relative to industry average: HJ Heinz
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Colgate-Palmolive and Nike
  • Lowest rated: Nike, adidas, Levi Straus & Company
  • Lowest rated relative to industry average: The Iams Company, Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Largest decline (since last year): Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Ratings Of Industries

  • Top rated: Personal care & cleaning products
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Food manufacturing
  • Lowest rated: Cigarettes
  • Largest decline (since last year): Apparel

While it’s interesting to look at the data, I also like to read the commentary by Professor Claes Fornell who puts the customer satisfaction results in context of the overall economy. Here’s an excerpt from his Q3 2008 comments:

There is no meaningful pattern of past data to statistically forecast in an environment of great uncertainty and market volatility… When household resources are lacking, changes in customer satisfaction do not matter much for aggregate demand. At the micro level, on the other hand, it matters more. For individual companies, now is the time to hold on to present customers. Making sure that they are satisfied usually provides some degree of insulation from competitive challenges and price wars, as the challenger must be able to provide better value than the incumbent – and, depending on the risk the buyer takes in switching suppliers, sometimes significantly so.

The bottom line: Recession => Retention is critical => Customer Experience is critical!

The Satisfaction Quarterly Report, Q2 2008

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) just released its Q2 2008 report that covers the following sectors: Internet news & information, portals & search engines, automotive, electronics, major appliances, and personal computers. As I mentioned in a previous post about the ACSI, it’s a great research effort that doesn’t gets enough visibility.

Here are some highlights of the new data:

Ratings Of Firms

  • Top rated: Toyota and BMW
  • Top rated relative to industry average: Apple and Google
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Google and Apple
  • Lowest rated: AOL and HP
  • Lowest rated relative to industry average: AOL, Chrysler Jeep, and Ask.com
  • Largest decline (since last year): Whirlpool and HP

Ratings Of Industries

  • Top rated: Electronics
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Internet Portals & Search Engines
  • Lowest rated: Personal Computers
  • Largest decline (since last year): Major Appliances

While it’s interesting to look at the data, I also like to read the commentary by Professor Claes Fornell who puts the customer satisfaction results in context of the overall economy. Here’s an excerpt from his Q2 2008 comments:

Future consumption growth is impeded by many factors, chief among them house-price deflation (which has trimmed household wealth), tougher credit conditions, a worsening labor market, and continued high fuel and food prices… Under these circumstances, even if customer satisfaction were rising, it would be difficult to offset pocketbook limitations. But since ACSI shows no aggregate growth, the outlook for more aggregate spending growth continues to be bleak… The ACSI forecast suggests a third quarter spending growth of no more than 2.3% and the economy will continue to struggle… But all is not doom and gloom. E-business and technology lead the way. Customer satisfaction for e-business is up by almost 6%.

The bottom line: Satisfaction may be down, but Apple and Google are doing something right

The Satisfaction Quarterly Report, Q1 2008

I recently mentioned the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to someone and was surprised that she had not heard of it. It’s a great research effort led by Claes Fornell at the University Of Michigan which tracks customer satisfaction on a quarterly basis. Here’s a chart of the national average since the index was created in 1994:

ACSI National Satisfaction Scores

As you can tell, satisfaction scores have been generally on the rise over the last few years.

The ACSI provides both company-specific and industry-specific data for a different set of industries every quarter. The Q1 2008 ACSI looked at the following industries: hotels, restaurants, hospitals, cable & satellite TV, cellular telephones, computer software, fixed line telephone service, motion pictures, network/cable TV news, newspapers, wireless telephone service, airlines, express delivery, U.S. Postal Service, and energy utilities.

Here are some of the highlights from that Q1 2008 data:

  • Best & Worst Organizations:
    • Top rated: FedEx Corporation (express delivery), UPS (express delivery), Olive Garden (restaurant), and Southern Company (Utility)
    • Largest improvement (since last year): Ameren Corporation (energy utilities), Reliant Energy (energy utilities), Energy Future Holdings (energy utilities), and McDonalds (limited service restaurants).
    • Lowest rated: US Airways (airlines), Charter Communications (cable & satellite TV), Comcast Corporation (cable & satellite TV), and Sprint Nextel (wireless telephone services).
    • Largest decline (since last year): US Airways (airlines), Continental Airlines (airlines), Sprint Nextel (wireless telephone services), and Northwest Airlines (airlines).
  • Best & Worst Industries:
    • Top rated: Express Delivery and Ambulatory Care.
    • Largest improvement (since last year): Hotels and Fixed Line Telephone Services.
    • Lowest rated: Airlines, Cable & Satelitte TV, and Newspapers. 
    • Largest decline (since last year): Newspapers and Broadcast TV News.

The bottom line: This should be a wake-up call to many firms (are you listening airlines and cable & satellite companies?).

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