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!