Magazine article CRM Magazine

Customer Satisfaction Plunges Again: American Customer Satisfaction Index Sees One of Its Biggest Drops in 20 Years

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Customer Satisfaction Plunges Again: American Customer Satisfaction Index Sees One of Its Biggest Drops in 20 Years

Article excerpt

The most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), looking at consumer data from the first three months of 2014, declined 0.8 percent, one of the largest declines in the 20-year history of the index.

Overall customer satisfaction fell from 76.8 percent in the first three months of 2013 to 76.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

Claes Fornell, founder and chairman of the ACSI, says the drop is due primarily to growing concerns about product quality and a lack of price incentives from manufacturers. The product quality issue, he says, is most obvious in the automotive industry, which has seen a number of large-scale product recalls in the past few months.

Among industries, all five sectors covered by the index--hospitality, healthcare, transportation, utilities, and cable and Internet service providers--posted declines in customer satisfaction. Satisfaction with TV service providers fell from 68 percent to 65 percent. For Internet service providers, satisfaction went from 65 percent in 2013 to 63 percent in 2014. Hotels and energy utilities saw declines from 77 percent to 75 percent; hospitals fell from 78 percent to 76 percent.

"I was surprised to see luxury car manufacturers do so poorly," Fornell says. (Top-rated Mercedes-Benz, with a score of 86, dropped two points, while Acura landed at the bottom of the list with a score of 77, down seven points from last year.) "They used to score high on customer satisfaction, but not so much anymore."

The low scores are not limited to just those industries, though. "Across the board, consumers are less pleased with the goods and services they are buying," Fornell explains. "What many people are saying is that the level of service they are receiving is not as good. They have problems getting through on the phone, and they're getting poor service in the stores."

Further chronicling the plunge in customer service, customer support software company Zendesk recently listed the United States as 14th in the world for customer satisfaction, with an average satisfaction rating of 85 percent. New Zealand (with 93 percent customer satisfaction) and Canada, Norway, and Italy, each with 92 percent customer satisfaction scores, were the top four. …

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