NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Customer Satisfaction Vies With Expectations

February 22, 2000

The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index reveals general long-term declines in customer satisfaction since the survey commenced in 1994. Economists theorize that consumer expectations are outstripping the ability of companies to improve quality.

For the fourth quarter of 1999, compared on a year-over-year basis, some companies and categories did increase their ratings -- namely personal-property insurance firms and supermarkets, both with scores above the national average of 72.8 out of 100. But declines in most groups outweighed the gains.

  • Overall customer satisfaction in 1994 exceeded 74 percent, then fell to less than 71 percent in 1997 -- then rebounded.
  • For the fourth quarter, gasoline stations lost 3.8 percentage points -- while retail outlets declined 1.9 points.
  • Personal-property insurance picked up 2.6 points for an overall score of 79 percent satisfaction.
  • Supermarkets gained 1.4 points to 74 percent.

The index is compiled annually by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan in cooperation with the American Society for Quality. Certain categories are updated quarterly.

Source: Melanie Trottman, "Satisfaction With Retail, Financial Companies Slips," Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2000.


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