Customer Satisfaction Edges Upward

The national American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) rose slightly for 1997 compared with 1996, despite a slight drop in the manufacturing/durables sector, reports the American Society for Quality, which cosponsors the index with the University of Michigan Business School. The current ACSI data is based on a quarterly update.

The overall ACSI, tracked since 1994, rose to 71.1 on a 0-to-100 scale, while the manufacturing/durables sector fell slightly from 78.8 to 78.4. The national rise was in large part due to gains throughout government services, most notably the Internal Revenue Service and suburban and central city police services.

The manufacturing/durables sector is made up in large part by the automotive industry, whose index remained unchanged, but consumers interviewed said their rankings would be higher if automotive "service" quality were comparable to "product" quality. Product quality scored 5 points higher. A similar imbalance on the service side is seen in the personal computer industry, whose overall score fell from 78 in 1994 to 70 this year.

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