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Customer satisfaction overall continues to worsen, as measured in the latest quarter by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), produced by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and CFI Group.
While satisfaction has been declining since 2007, its the deterioration for the third quarter is small, according to the latest report. The ACSI lost 0.1%, which brings the index to a score of 75 on a 100-point scale.
Household spending actually fell in the third quarter for the first time in 17 years. However, despite the overall drop in ACSI, many companies are actually improving customer relationships: gainers led decliners 46 percent to 27 percent, with 27 percent unchanged.
“The good news is that there has been not been a collapse in customer satisfaction, but rather that the slide in ACSI might be flattening,” said professor Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer. “The bad news is that customer satisfaction will not contribute to aggregate consumer spending as much as it used to. Households are strapped for cash, have little savings and credit is tight, but for individual companies, customer satisfaction actually matters even more in a recession,” Fornell added. “Now is the time to make sure customers don’t leave and that margins don’t evaporate. Firms without strongly satisfied customers will face a very difficult challenge.”
For the third quarter, the ACSI found customer satisfaction with food companies edging up to 2.5 percent, to 83. Perennial top-performer Heinz (down 1 percent to 89) leads the industry, with Quaker Oats (up 1 percent to 87) and Mars (steady at 86) not far behind.
Meanwhile, there was no change in the industry score for personal care & cleaning products, which remains at a record high of 85. Clorox is still at the top of the industry (87), but is joined this year by Unilever (+1 percent to 87) and Colgate-Palmolive, which improved dramatically (+7 percent to 87) in great part because of its oral care product lines such as toothpaste, teeth whiteners, and electric toothbrushes.
For a complete list of measured companies and scores, go to http://www.theacsi.org.