Customer satisfaction nears all-time low, new study finds


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U.S. Customer Satisfaction Hasn’t Hit Bottom, But It’s Very Close, According to Latest US Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Since 2018 — before the pandemic, remember — index scores have fallen 5%, the biggest drop in ACSI’s 28-year history.

Is inflation to blame? Of course, analysts say, so are supply and demand, excess inventory, labor shortages and gasoline prices. But at the end of the day, retailers and service providers spend so much time and effort worrying about all these things that customer service is the last thing on their minds, so they leave customers to fend for themselves. in the best case. person-win kind of way.

“In a scarcity economy, businesses don’t need to compete a lot to attract customers. Rather, consumers are competing to be first in line and to get what is available,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI Founder and Donald C. Cook Professor Emeritus of Business Administration at the University of Michigan. , at ConsumerAffairs.

How important is customer service?

Service still matters a lot to consumers. In fact, for many consumers, customer service is big business.

Of the 150,000 reviews posted on ConsumerAffairs last year, nearly 17% reference “customer service” in their reviews. Of these, they appreciated when they got great service and were angry when they didn’t. Over 42% of consumers mentioning customer service gave a 1-star rating and 43.5% gave a 5-star rating.

“It’s not like companies deliberately provide poor customer service. But even if they want to, they can’t seem to perform at a level that makes customers happy,” customer service expert Shep Hyken said in an email to ConsumerAffairs.

He blames one of four things: either the company has deliberately chosen to provide poor customer service, the company wants to provide a better service experience but can’t seem to achieve it, the company can’t keep up , or a bad culture is the problem.

Whose customer satisfaction sucks and who doesn’t?

The industries that have seen the biggest declines in customer satisfaction over the past four years are those with supply constraints, primarily in labor. Examples are hospitals (-9%), hotels (-7%) and express delivery (-9%).

But the industries where consumer prices have risen the most also have the most dissatisfied customers: gas stations (-8%), beer (-7%) and utilities (-5%).

The winners are those at the opposite end of the spectrum – industries that are less dependent on service to the extent that they can avoid having customers who actually need service. Customer satisfaction for cable television is up almost 7%, Internet services by 3% and personal computers by 3%.

You might be surprised which customers love the most

Over the next week, ConsumerAffairs will enter the major categories of consumer satisfaction with both feet – automotive, mobile service providers, travel, streaming/internet/content providers, restaurants and retail.

For starters, trophies are awarded to Infiniti (Nissan) and Acura (Honda) for making the biggest positive jump in satisfaction scores. Infiniti’s score is up 9.3% and Acura’s is up 7.9%. You will have to wait for the others, but there will certainly be surprises. Here’s a teaser: TracPhone and Alamo.

In the meantime, here’s a look at the brands that did the best overall:

Company

Current score

Industry Rating

Industry

Trader Joe’s

85

76

Supermarkets

Lexus (Toyota)

84

77

Cars

Chick-fil-A

83

78

fast food

Clorox

83

79

Personal care and cleaning products

Acura (Honda)

82

77

Cars

Apple

82

79

Personal computer

Audi (Volkswagen)

82

77

Cars

Etsy

82

77

Online retail

HEB

82

76

Supermarkets

Hershey

82

80

Food manufacturing

Infiniti (Nissan)

82

77

Cars

March

82

80

Food manufacturing

Quaker (PepsiCo)

82

80

Food manufacturing

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