ACSI Attends EMACS 2012

In October, ACSI staff will travel to San Diego, California, to join 350+ energy utility professionals at the 15th annual  EMACS – The Customer Experience Conference, organized by Chartwell. The 2012 conference, set for October 9 to 12, will feature over 30 presentations on topics that shape the overall experience of residential energy utility customers.

The conference represents the flagship customer experience event for the energy utility industry. EMACS attendees are invited to stop by Booth 805 in the Exhibit Hall of the Manchester Grand Hyatt to meet with ACSI staff and learn about our services for energy utility clients.

For nearly two decades, the ACSI has benchmarked residential customer satisfaction for the largest investor-owned utilities in the United States. In 2013, the ACSI will complete its third year of measuring satisfaction with municipal and cooperative utilities.

In April of each year, the ACSI publicly releases first quarter scores for approximately 30 utilities, identified by independent ACSI researchers based on size of residential business. The first quarter scores, however, tell only a small fraction of the customer experience story. By engaging ACSI services, energy utility clients access confidential data four times each year, covering not only customer satisfaction itself, but also customers’ perceptions of power reliability and the ability to restore power after an outage.

Social Media Explosion: ACSI Adds Four Companies

Coming up on July 17, the ACSI will release 2012 results for e-business, including expanded coverage of Internet social media sites. This year, the industry roster more than doubles with the addition of four websites: Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Since 2010, the ACSI has measured three companies within the social media category: Facebook, Google-owned YouTube, and user-generated Wikipedia.

According to a recent survey, two-thirds of major corporations now use Web 2.0 tools such as social networks or blogs. While businesses scramble to make the most of their online resources, competition heats up among the social media sites themselves, whose revenue often depends on advertising dollars.

One year ago, ACSI results showed that social media overall had a long way to go to satisfy its users. Flat at 70 for a second straight year, social media was a below-average performer compared with all sectors and industries in the ACSI.

Among individual sites last year, Wikipedia alone beat the national ACSI average at 78, while Facebook lagged far behind at 66 in the bottom quartile of 225+ companies. Fresh off of its initial public offering, will Facebook improve user satisfaction in 2012?

Crave More Cell Phone Features? You May End Up Being Less Satisfied.

Smartphones have radically altered the landscape of the cellular telephone industry, offering a startling array of apps that reach well beyond sending and receiving phone calls. But, more functionality makes for increasingly complex devices. With smartphones, it’s like you’re carrying a pocket-sized personal computer, and ACSI results show that PCs earn lower customer satisfaction scores than other types of durable goods, in part because of their complexity.

So, how happy are customers who use their phone as a mobile computing device versus those who use their phone as—simply put—a phone? ACSI results released in May 2012 show that the more complex the use, the less satisfied the user is overall with their chosen cell phone.

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Respondents to the survey were asked “other than making or receiving phone calls, what do you use your cell phone service for the most?” For phone-only users, satisfaction is 74 (on a 0 to 100 scale). But, when users do more than phone calling, satisfaction tapers off—from 70 for text messaging all the way down to 65 for multimedia use (such as gaming and video streaming).

While all cell phone users expect about the same level of quality from their phone (77 for phone only versus 76 for multimedia), differences emerge when they consider their actual experiences. The ACSI measures quality as a combination of customization (meeting personal requirements) and reliability (how often things go wrong). Both measures decrease as complexity of use increases, especially reliability.

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According to ACSI research, satisfaction tends to decrease as the number of customer touchpoints increases. This is because there are more opportunities for customers to be disappointed. To put this in context for cell phones: The more functionality the phone has—and that the customer makes use of—the greater the chance that something will go wrong. This can be anything from data upload speed to hardware and software problems.

Indeed, the percentage of customers who have complained to the manufacturer or wireless provider about their cell phone is dramatically lower for phone-only users versus any of the other categories.

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ACSI Media Highlights – February, 2012

Here are just a few of the media clips discussing ACSI results in February: USA Today reviews the latest ACSI E-Commerce results, and in a second article focuses on Travelocity and the online travel website category. MSNBC.com writes on the latest ACSI data for the supermarkets industry. The Sun-Sentinel considers the strong, ACSI industry-leading satisfaction for the supermarket Publix. The Wall Street Journal mentions the ACSI online brokerage category.

Malaysia Joins Family of ACSI Global Partners

In January, Malaysia officially joined the group of countries using the ACSI methodology to create a national index of customer satisfaction. Dr. Forrest Morgeson of ACSI traveled to Kuala Lumpur in late January and early February to work with the Malaysian Productivity Corporation, the group in Malaysia that has licensed the ACSI. Inaugural results for the Malaysian Index are planned for release later this year.

In addition to Malaysia, ACSI-sponsored projects are ongoing in Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

ACSI Releases 2011 Citizen Satisfaction Results

On January 19th, 2012, the ACSI released the results of its 2011 Citizen Satisfaction study. The study focuses on the satisfaction of users of U.S. federal government services. More than 50 high-impact federal departments, agencies and programs experienced by citizens are represented in the annual ACSI sample. For 2011, the federal government ACSI score increased significantly, up 1.5 points from 2010 to 66.9, a gain of 2.3%. This gain erased almost half of the large 3.3-point decline between 2009 and 2010, a positive development for government.

To learn more about the 2011 Citizen Satisfaction study, visit the following links to the ACSI website:

To see a sample of the media coverage for this ACSI release, visit the links below:

Lastly, click here to view a copy of the 2011 ACSI Federal Government Presentation:

ACSI Research Insights: Automobile Satisfaction and Recalls

Earlier this month, ACSI released its 2011 report on the Automobiles and Light Vehicles industry. The August ACSI Commentary focused on the difficult situation faced by U.S. automakers as they experience declining customer satisfaction, while the Japanese automakers gain in satisfaction and the Europeans maintain their lead.  Here we offer a few additional research insights gleaned from the ACSI study, focusing on the effects of automobile recalls. The ACSI customer satisfaction survey asks all respondents to the auto study to indicate whether their car has been the subject of a recall since the time of purchase, providing the data that allows us to investigate the impact of recalls on satisfaction.

Over the last few years, a series of high-profile auto recalls (most notably, the massive, worldwide Toyota recall that began in 2009) have garnered significant media attention. What impact, if any, does the experience of a recall have on customer satisfaction? While it may seem obvious that a recall signals a significant quality defect and therefore depresses satisfaction, it is also possible that consumers have come to accept recalls (a fairly common event) as a normal part of car ownership.

Using a pooled sample of 2010 and 2011 data for all of the nameplates measured within the industry, ACSI data suggests that customers who have experienced a recall are significantly less satisfied with their car than those who have not. As shown in the first chart below, car owners who experienced a recall have an ACSI score of 79, compared to a significantly higher score of 84 for those who have not.

But the negative impact of a recall for an automaker does not end with lower satisfaction. Because there is a nearly 1-to-1 relationship between satisfaction and customer loyalty for this industry, these findings also show that recalls create customers who are significantly more likely to defect to a competitor the next time they purchase a car.  Again using a pooled sample of 2010 and 2011 data for all nameplates measured by ACSI, the data shows that customers who have experienced a recall indicate they are 4 percentage points less likely to remain customers of the same automaker when they next purchase an automobile, as shown in the second chart above.

There are two vital conclusions that should be drawn from these findings. First, auto recalls, no matter how common, well-publicized, or necessary for public safety, have a negative impact on customer satisfaction for an automaker. As satisfaction drives behaviors like word-of-mouth, cross-selling, up-selling, brand image, corporate reputation, and so forth, the drop in satisfaction caused by a recall has a number of negative indirect consequences for carmakers. Perhaps more significantly, however, is the impact of a recall on customer loyalty. Customers who have experienced a recall indicate that they are significantly less likely to be retained as customers in the future. As current customers are generally “cheaper” customers for any firm (requiring fewer acquisition costs), the impact of a recall on loyalty represents a tangible and negative economic consequence for an automaker.

Indonesia Becomes ACSI’s Newest Global Partner

In May, Indonesia joined a growing list of countries to adopt the ACSI methodology and create a national index of customer satisfaction. ACSI’s program for international partners – Global CSI – allows these organizations to create customer satisfaction indexes for their own national economies using ACSI’s methods and software. Data collection on the Indonesian project is set to begin this summer, with inaugural results planned for release in October 2011. ACSI contracted with Mars-Indonesia, a well-respected market research firm headquartered in Jakarta and founded by Dr. Asto Subroto, to produce Indonesia’s national index of satisfaction. Dr. Forrest Morgeson of ACSI traveled to Jakarta in May to work with Dr. Subroto’s team and help plan the index.

In addition to Indonesia, versions of the ACSI are ongoing in Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. A pilot study is also set to launch in 2011 in South Africa.

ACSI Research Presented at the 66th Annual AAPOR Conference

While ACSI research focuses first and foremost on consumer satisfaction results and the implications of these results for companies and government agencies, there is a great deal of additional knowledge that can be gained from the rich and expansive ACSI database. This past Friday, May 13th, some of this knowledge was shared with an audience at the 66th Annual American Association for Public Opinion Research Conference. In a presentation delivered by Dr. Forrest Morgeson, the consequences of multi-mode, multi-method satisfaction data collection (i.e. conducting interviewing over both the telephone and the Internet) were discussed. The results indicate that in regards to consumer satisfaction research, collecting data over both the telephone and the Internet does not dramatically impact or alter the sample or the conclusions, when compared to data collected only over the telephone. Thus contrary to the findings of some other research (mostly focused on interviewing regarding political opinions), multi-method interviewing appears to be a promising tool for satisfaction researchers, if done carefully and correctly. 

You can download a copy of the presentation here: ACSI AAPOR Presentation.