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Customer satisfaction continues to climb

Customer satisfaction in the United States remains at an all-time high following the first quarter of the year.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), customer satisfaction at the national level has increased sharply during the past seven quarters. It rose in the first quarter of 2024, advancing 0.3% to an all-time high score of 78.0 (on a 0-100 scale).

The steady increase comes after satisfaction hit a 20-year low in 2021. ACSI says the decline began about a decade ago and was exacerbated by inflation, supply chain problems, and shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. As some of these problems have eased, customer satisfaction has rebounded.

2024 customer satisfaction
Graphic credited to ACSI.
2024 customer satisfaction
Graphic credited to ACSI.

“While inflation has abated, it is probably still a factor because food and housing are now a much higher percentage of household income than they used to be,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and the Distinguished Donald C. Cook Professor (emeritus) of Business Administration at the University of Michigan. “Even if the proportion of discretionary consumer spending declines, customer satisfaction will still have a major impact on how consumers spend much of their money. Consequently, the economic outlook is fairly positive — but not without caution.”

ACSI noted that the biggest threat to the economy now is interest rates and high customer expectations. New data from the National Retail Federation found that economic growth slowed during the first three months of the year, but consumers are still spending more than last year. Citing continued high inflation, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged last week, meaning a rate reduction that might have come in June is now likely to be delayed.

The national ACSI score (or ACSI composite) is updated each quarter based on annualized customer satisfaction scores for all sectors and industries. It measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with approximately 400 companies in about 40 industries and 10 economic sectors, including various services of federal and local government agencies.

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