Inflation and unemployment lower; customer satisfaction is upThe American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is a national indicator of the quality of economic output for goods and services as experienced by consumers of that output.
February 08, 2023 08:02 AM Eastern Standard Time–ANN ARBOR, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–After deteriorating dramatically over the past five years, customer satisfaction in the United States is showing signs of recovery. In the fourth quarter of 2022, U.S. customer satisfaction increases by 0.3% to a score of 73.4 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI®)100-point scale. In addition, inflation is down, and GDP is up — albeit modestly.
Consumers account for more than two-thirds of GDP, which is why they are so critical to the economy. The satisfaction people get from shopping, buying, and consuming, as tracked by the ACSI, affects their future propensity to spend. The price of goods and services, household income, and savings do as well. The fourth quarter 2022 GDP growth, along with increasing customer satisfaction, are encouraging signs that things may be moving in the right direction for the U.S. economy. If adjusted for the increase in both quality and satisfaction, the official inflation number of 6.5% would most likely be a bit lower.
Following a fairly steady increase (2000-2013), customer satisfaction flattened out (2013-2018) before plummeting in mid-2022 to levels not seen in 17 years. However, the final quarter of 2022 might be breaking this downward trend.
Near-Term Economic Progress Remains Uncertain
Welcome as these results are, the near-term economic progress remains uncertain, but the risk of a recession is a bit lower. While price inflation remains too high, it is nevertheless reduced. Further, the levels of customer satisfaction and spending, while improving, are not yet robust enough.
“While customer satisfaction improved in the final quarter of last year, it remains far below previous levels,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and the Distinguished Donald C. Cook Professor (emeritus) of Business Administration at the University of Michigan. “Inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the deterioration but were not factors in the beginning of the decline. Business spending to improve the customer experience increased and companies had more data on their customers than ever before. However, too few companies use analytics suitable for customer satisfaction data. Standard statistical methods are not up to the task and artificial intelligence methods don’t yield the cause-and-effect information necessary for resource allocation.”
In addition to the lack of powerful data analytics, many companies have problems with high employee turnover, staff shortages, and employee dissatisfaction. It is difficult to generate high customer satisfaction under these circumstances.
Nevertheless, customer satisfaction is improving in several industries, especially consumer shipping, athletic shoes, soft drinks, hospitals, and online and specialty retailing. However, it is declining for fast food, hotels, and gas stations.
The national ACSI score (or ACSI composite) is updated each quarter based on annualized customer satisfaction scores for all sectors and industries. For more, follow the American Customer Satisfaction Index on LinkedIn and Twitter at @theACSI or visit www.theacsi.org.
About the ACSI
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) has been a national economic indicator for over 25 years. It measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 400 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services of federal and local government agencies. Reported on a scale of 0 to 100, scores are based on data from interviews with roughly 500,000 customers annually. For more information, visit www.theacsi.org.