The American Customer Satisfaction Index is the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States. Over two decades of ACSI research reveals several key findings relevant to both the competitive stance of individual firms and the health of the U.S. economy overall.
- Customer satisfaction is a leading indicator of company financial performance. Stocks of companies with high ACSI scores tend to do better than those of companies with low scores.
- Changes in customer satisfaction affect the general willingness of households to buy. As such, price-adjusted ACSI is a leading indicator of consumer spending growth and has accounted for more of the variation in future spending growth than any other single factor.
- Because consumer spending accounts for 70% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), changes in customer satisfaction as measured by the ACSI also correlate with changes in GDP growth. As GDP is a measure of the quantity of economic output and ACSI a measure of its quality, economic growth is dependent on producing not only more, but also better, products and services.
- Manufactured goods tend to score higher for customer satisfaction than do services. For example, food items and cell phones show better ACSI scores than hotels or subscription TV service. Typically, the more service required, the lower the customer satisfaction.
- Quality plays a more important role in satisfying customers than price in almost all ACSI-measured industries. Price promotions can be an effective short-term approach to improving satisfaction, but price cutting is almost never sustainable in the long term. Companies that focus on quality improvements tend to fare better over time with regard to customer satisfaction (ACSI) than companies that focus on price.
- Mergers and acquisitions have a generally negative effect on customer satisfaction, particularly among service industries. ACSI-measured service companies that have engaged in frequent, large acquisitions typically experience significantly lower ACSI scores in the period following a merger when the ‘customer as asset’ often takes a backseat to reorganization and consolidation via cost cutting.