Customer Satisfaction Improves. Is the Recession Almost Over?

Probably not overall, but it can be for your company if you focus on your customers and costs.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released their fourth quarter results today. According to their commentary, in 2001, an uptick in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) signaled that a rebound in the economy was near. This time, it is different. Consumer behavior has changed much more than in earlier economic slowdowns. Consumer spending has continued to weaken while savings have gone up, suggesting that at least for the short term there will be less revenue for sellers and more pressure on profit margins and for cost reductions.

“For consumer spending to rebound, two conditions must be met: consumers must be favorably disposed to spend and have the means to spend,” said Professor Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “The good news from ACSI is that the first condition has been met: customer satisfaction is looking up. But it remains to be seen to what extent the government stimulus plan will help translate stronger satisfaction into increased consumer demand.”

An overall upturn would be wonderful, but it is not likely. The days of riding an economic wave is over. This doesn’t mean that you have to drown, just start paddling.

The real story in the ACSI, as I see it, is the individual company performance. Circuit City has a long history of sub-par performance with a low of 69 and high of 73. The company is in bankruptcy.

Amazon has consistently performed in the mid to high 80’s and continues to grow. Customer satisfaction is directly related to corporate performance.

If you want your company to snap out of the recession, focus on your customers’ needs and expectations. While they want fast, friendly, and free, they only expect fast and friendly. Streamline your operations, pump up your team, and watch your sales increase. Growth comes from within and only if your organization is healthy and focused on your prize customers.

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