By George Anderson
Attention retailers: Your shoppers are not happy with you.
According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index for retail (online and off) and financial services, consumers’ overall satisfaction level was down last year. This was in direct contrast to the previous three years where consumers expressed increased satisfaction.
Scores were based on surveys conducted with 20,000 consumers who rated retailers based on their pricing, quality of merchandise and levels of customer service.
The director of the University of Michigan’s National Quality Research Center, Claes Fornell, blamed much of the drop on consumers’ unhappiness with paying higher prices at the gas pump.
Consumers’ demand for low prices may be putting retailers in a Catch-22 position, according to Professor Fornell.
“While high levels of customer satisfaction typically lead to company growth, it is not always the case that business growth leads to satisfied customers,’ he said. “Through heavy discounting, the (2004) holiday season did bring in more buyers for both traditional and online retailers. But because some companies also cut costs, resources to serve the increasing demand were sometimes lacking, resulting in crowding, longer lines, and slower service.”
Moderator’s Comment: What factors (price, customer service, etc.) do you believe are most important in satisfying customers? What is the difference between
companies that satisfy consumers and those that do not?
Professor Fornell expressed concern with the drop in customer satisfaction ratings. “Consumer spending, which represents nearly 70 percent of gross domestic
product, grows at an annual rate of about 3.8 percent,’ he said. “But when customer satisfaction drops (by 0.3 points or more), average consumer spending growth declines to 3.2
percent, a difference of roughly $46 billion on an annual basis.’ –
George Anderson – Moderator