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American Customer Satisfaction Index ACSI

Quality Insider

Apple, Google Surge in Customer Satisfaction

American automakers fall further behind foreign competition

Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 22:00

(ACSI: Ann Arbor, Michigan) -- Customer satisfaction continues on a bumpy path without momentum or trend in the second quarter, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. After a small uptick last quarter, ACSI slips 0.1 percent to 75.1 on a 100-point scale. The ACSI second quarter report forecasts consumer spending will remain weak with growth of no more than 2.3 percent in the third quarter. “The American consumer has long been the single biggest force propping up the United States and the global economy,” says professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan. “But declining customer satisfaction combined with weaker demand for U.S. exports may make it difficult for American households to shoulder the burden of being the locomotive for world economic growth.” Every second quarter, ACSI features the annual measurement of the manufacturing durable goods sector and e-business category of web sites, including automobiles, personal computers, major appliances, portals and search engines, and news and information web sites. Detroit loses ground Hit with record losses, U.S. auto manufacturers are also suffering from slumping customer satisfaction. No domestic car maker is represented among the top four nameplates, but the bottom three in the industry are all U.S. brands. Yet, customer satisfaction for the industry as a whole remains at an all-time high (unchanged at 82), and one U.S. car maker, GM’s Saturn, shows considerable improvement, climbing 5 percent to tie its all-time high from 1998. “The problem for domestic companies is that they now lag further behind their foreign counterparts,” says Fornell. “This is not going to be helpful as the Big Three will lose more pricing power and be forced to continue dependence on rebates and discounting in a market where consumer preferences keep shifting away from domestic cars.” Lexus and BMW lead all auto manufacturers at 87. Toyota and Honda each improve 2 percent to 86. Mercedes Benz, once No. 1 in customer satisfaction, continues to fall behind the leading car makers. From being the top scorer in ACSI eight years ago, Mercedes has seen a slow, steady erosion in customer satisfaction—it’s now no better than the industry average. Chevrolet, GM’s best-selling brand, takes the biggest fall, losing 4 percent to 79. Chrysler’s Dodge (down 3 percent to 78) and Jeep ( up 1 percent to 76) anchor the bottom of the industry. The Apple of consumers’ eye The personal computer industry suffers a second consecutive drop in satisfaction, falling 1 percent to 74 and losing all gains made since 2005. Apple defies the industry by moving in the opposite direction and posting its largest gain ever to 85, a new all-time high for the industry. The 8-percent leap puts 10 points between Apple and its nearest rival, one of the largest gaps between first and second in any industry measured by ACSI. As Apple’s satisfaction improves, so too have its sales, marketshare, net income, and stock price. “It’s hard not to be impressed with Apple,” says Fornell. “This is product extension at its best where the new products, iPod and iPhone, are helping bring new customers to existing computer products. The fact that Apple isn’t dependent on the Windows Vista operating system hasn’t hurt either.” The industry aggregate decline is largely for Windows-based machines—Hewlett-Packard (73), Gateway (72), and Compaq (70) each sink 4 percent. The exception is Dell—up 1 percent to 75. Whirlwind at Whirlpool Customer satisfaction with major appliances slides 3 percent to 80 this quarter. All three major companies decline, with Whirlpool dropping the most ( down 5 percent to 80). General Electric and Electrolux each drop 1 percent to 80. Whirlpool, the world’s biggest appliance manufacturers, faces increased competition at a time when domestic demand is shrinking and the cost of shipping and raw materials is rising. The company’s customer satisfaction rose after its acquisition of rival Maytag in early 2006, but the gains in satisfaction were short-lived. Giddy for Google Customer satisfaction with the e-business category of web sites surges 6 percent to an all-time high of 79.3, largely on the remarkable improvement of Google. After slipping behind Yahoo! for the first time last year, Google surged an unparalleled 10 percent to leave all rivals in its wake. Google’s score of 86 sets a new standard for e-businesses and creates a formidable nine-point gap between its nearest competitor, Yahoo!, which fell 3 percent to 77. For a complete list of measured companies and scores, please visit www.theacsi.org. For more information, visit www.theacsi.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=181&Itemid=184.


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American Customer Satisfaction Index ACSI

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), founded at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and produced by ACSI LLC, is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. The national index is updated each quarter and scores on a zero-to-100 scale at the national level. The ACSI produces indexes for 10 economic sectors, 47 industries, more than 225 companies, and more than 200 federal or local government services.