Customer Satisfaction Remains Weak, ACSI Finds

Nationwide customer satisfaction remains low, but the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows a tiny 0.1 percent uptick to 73.2 (on a 0-100 scale) this quarter. Nevertheless, no matter how small, it is an increase, which has been a rarity for a long time. In fact, this is only the second time during the past 16 quarters that ACSI has increased.

At the same time, consumer spending remains weak as well, but it did grow by 1.4 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Consumer spending is relevant, the ACSI developers say, because while gross domestic product is a measure of the quantity of economic output, the ACSI gauges the quality of economic output as experienced by consumers. Obviously, these two measures are related. The satisfaction that people get from buying and consuming impact their future propensity to spend. While dissatisfied consumers will likely be hesitant, satisfied ones are more likely to repeat what was, after all, a gratifying experience.

"While falling customer satisfaction tends to shift the demand curve downwards, strong consumer savings accounts move it in the opposite direction," said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and a business administration professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, in a statement.

Other factors influencing the current numbers were supply shortages, rising interest rates, inflation, and more.

Based on the data, the ACSI's developers say that businesses would do well to realize that consumer markets have long memories. They recommend the following actions:

  • Allocating scarce resources diligently to make sure customers are satisfied.
  • Getting customer data on what they like and don't like.
  • Improving data analytics technology, realizing that d ata and information are not the same, that data noise must be reduced and filtered out, and financially relevant indices and causal models must be used.

Otherwise, it will take a long time for customer satisfaction to return to levels necessary for economic growth and strong business profitability, they caution.