The Satisfaction Quarterly Report, Q3 2008

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) just released its Q3 2008 report that covers the following sectors: Apparel, athletic shoes, breweries, cigarettes, food manufacturing, personal care & cleaning products, pet food, and soft drinks. Here are some highlights of the new data:

Ratings Of Firms

  • Top rated: HJ Heinz
  • Top rated relative to industry average: HJ Heinz
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Colgate-Palmolive and Nike
  • Lowest rated: Nike, adidas, Levi Straus & Company
  • Lowest rated relative to industry average: The Iams Company, Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Largest decline (since last year): Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Ratings Of Industries

  • Top rated: Personal care & cleaning products
  • Largest improvement (since last year): Food manufacturing
  • Lowest rated: Cigarettes
  • Largest decline (since last year): Apparel

While it’s interesting to look at the data, I also like to read the commentary by Professor Claes Fornell who puts the customer satisfaction results in context of the overall economy. Here’s an excerpt from his Q3 2008 comments:

There is no meaningful pattern of past data to statistically forecast in an environment of great uncertainty and market volatility… When household resources are lacking, changes in customer satisfaction do not matter much for aggregate demand. At the micro level, on the other hand, it matters more. For individual companies, now is the time to hold on to present customers. Making sure that they are satisfied usually provides some degree of insulation from competitive challenges and price wars, as the challenger must be able to provide better value than the incumbent – and, depending on the risk the buyer takes in switching suppliers, sometimes significantly so.

The bottom line: Recession => Retention is critical => Customer Experience is critical!

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

5 thoughts on “The Satisfaction Quarterly Report, Q3 2008”

  1. Bruce, Interesting thanks. I have recently advised some clients to talk internally about Retention and not Customer Experience. Talking about retention seems to be more acceptable, as people can see how retention saves money and is important now. Customer Experience unfortunately still drives connotations of driving more costs. Not sure why. All the implementation we have ever need involved with save money! Of course Rention is achieved through the CE as you outline. Anyway just a thought.

    Colin Shaw
    Founder, Beyond Philosophy.

  2. Interesting post, Bruce.

    I agree with Colin that retention is always likely to be an easier sell than the customer experience. The reason, I suspect, is that retention is a behaviour and therefore has more or less guaranteed, and often easily calculable, benefits for the bottom line.

    The customer experience is about controlling the attitudes/emotions that drive retention and other beneficial behaviours, but the financial benefits are one step further back.

    The obvious answer is to prove beyond question, for each individual business, that the customer experience is the main driver of retention.

    Stephen Hampshire
    The Leadership Factor

  3. Colin/Stephen: Thanks for your comments. Customer experience and satisfaction have no value in and of themselves; they are only important if they improve business results. In the post “The Holy Grail: A Link Between Customer Experience And Loyalty,” I highlighted research where I found a strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty across 9 industries. I’ll be repeating that analysis in early 2009, looking at 22 industries.

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