Small rise in US customer satisfaction
Washington, August 14, 2007
A survey of US consumers shows satisfaction with the products and services they buy improving just a little, but it also suggests their spending may remain weak.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index, the result of a quarterly survey by the University of Michigan's National Quality Research Center, rose 0.1 percent in the second quarter of 2007 from the first, to 75.3 on a 100-point scale.
Findings for the second quarter were released on Tuesday. Compared with the second quarter of 2006, the index is up only 1 percent.
'Customer satisfaction is pretty flat and consumer spending is slowing down,' Claes Fornell, professor of business administration and founder of the index, said in a statement.
Elaborating in a telephone interview, he said that while the overall reading of 75.3 is considered to be high, it is nevertheless clear that the rate of improvement is slowing.
'The prediction is that consumer spending will weaken a bit,' he said. 'When customer satisfaction goes up, consumers are inclined to buy more, and when it goes down, the opposite happens.'
Customer satisfaction has improved for nine consecutive quarters. But the leveling off in the growth rate at the beginning of 2007 has coincided with a decline in consumer spending.
Fornell said the latest survey also showed former leaders like Google, Apple and Toyota stumbling a bit. The industries that are in the survey change from one quarter to the next, but are the same as a year earlier.
The latest survey includes automobiles, personal computers, appliances, portals and search engines, and news and information Web sites.
Customer satisfaction with automobiles rose 1 percent to a high of 82, driven by greater satisfaction with domestic and European brands. The improvements more than offset declines by nearly all of the Asian manufacturers. - Reuters