Customer Satisfaction: Going in the Wrong Direction?

The new American Customer Satisfaction Index report points to disappointing trends over the past year.

acsiAnother year has gone by — and with it the unsettling revelation that companies may be more talk than action when it comes to improving their customer satisfaction levels with customers.

The latest evidence of this comes from newly released ASCI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) figures. The data were compiled from results reported by ACSI in 2015 based on surveys conducted from Q4 2014 though Q3 2015.

What the ACSI report shows is that customer satisfaction is trending in the wrong direction. Of the 43 industries tracked by ASCI, only five of them registered an overall improvement in customer satisfaction score, while the other 38 declined or stayed the same.

The ASCI index includes more than 325 measures, with some companies represented in multiple industries where they hold substantial market share. Each company’s rating is based on a total possible high-score of 100.

Here’s the unpleasant bottom-line finding: In nearly 60% of the cases where year-over-year comparisons were possible, customer satisfaction scores have declined over the past year.

Where are the biggest problem areas? Perhaps not surprisingly, four of the five companies that experienced the largest declines in customer satisfaction were in the communications sector:   Comcast, AT&T, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable.

ccComcast experienced a particularly bad result, with its ASCI score dropping ~10 percentage points to 54, tied for second-lowest among all companies included on the index. Cox Communications’ rating declined ~9 points to 58, and Time Warner Cable showed a similar percentage decline all the way down to a 51 score – the lowest rating recorded among all the companies on the index.

On the other hand, there were some bright spots in the latest ASCI report — and a lot of it has to do with Internet-based sectors.

Indeed, three of the five industries which charted overall improvements in customer satisfaction ratings are Internet-based, including Internet retail (up ~5 percentage points to an index of 81, the highest total achieved by any of the industries categories).

Other industries that exhibited an improvement in customer satisfaction ratings over the past were online travel services (which improved by ~1.5 percentage points to a composites score of 78) and social media (up ~4 percentage points to 78).

Two other industries that notched improved composite scores were household appliances – doing quite well with an ~81 score — and passenger air travel which, while still mired in a low index of 71, actually is during a tad better than in earlier years.

Even though the overall trends in customer satisfaction haven’t been in the right direction, more than 70 companies managed to achieve ACSI scores of 80 or better in the most recent evaluation, which has to be considered a very positive outcome. Most of these firms are manufacturers rather than service companies – which also continues a trend observed in prior-year surveys.

Additional results and detailed findings can be viewed here. Do any of the company findings surprise you?

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