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Customer Satisfaction on the Rebound

Languishing index experienced uptick in 2022




iStock, Tijana Simic

After a five-year slump, customer satisfaction in the U.S. is showing signs of recovery. That’s the conclusion of the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI), which said such consumer sentiment rose 0.3 percent to a score of 73.4 on a 100-point scale at year-end 2022.

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, the index shows.

Despite the uptick, the near-term economic progress remains uncertain, but the risk of a recession is a bit lower. While price inflation remains 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.

The latest index showed customer satisfaction 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.

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