Facebook Twitter

U.S. AUTOMAKERS CAN TAKE SATISFACTION IN INDEX NUMBERS

SHARE U.S. AUTOMAKERS CAN TAKE SATISFACTION IN INDEX NUMBERS

Consumer satisfaction with American cars and vans has grown since last year while satisfaction with Japanese auto brands has declined, the American Society for Quality Control reports.

The group's quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index showed the auto industry's overall ability to satisfy customers was better than the national average of the 40 industries and services measured."These numbers show the auto industry is building a great financial asset," said Claes Fornell, an economist at the University of Michigan Business School, which co-sponsors the index with the society. "But clearly, competition is tough and the temptation to increase short-term profits at the expense of customer satisfaction is very real."

Fornell said the nation's slowing economy can contribute to declining customer satisfaction by forcing productivity gains at the expense of quality. In turn, declining quality can be a factor in slowing the economy.

"Producing more with fewer resources doesn't necessarily mean we're better off, if that `more' results in lower quality products and increased unemployment," he said.

Declining customer satisfaction cuts into loyalty and prompts companies to spend more on promotion and marketing, Fornell said.

The index, based on 50,000 interviews a year, measures Americans' satisfaction with goods and services from 200 companies and government agencies, and 40 industries. In 1995's second quarter, it updated its measures in two sectors, manufacturing-durable goods and public administration-government, comprising 40 companies and agencies in nine industries.

In the manufacturing sector, it found the greatest decline in customer satisfaction among buyers of computers and printers. Overall, manufacturing's score on the index was 0.8 percent higher than the baseline set when the study began last year.

Satisfaction with public services and government declined 3.7 percent. In that sector, the largest change was a 5.4 percent increase in satisfaction with suburban solid waste disposal service.

Satisfaction with the Internal Revenue Service, whose customers are mandatory rather than voluntary, dropped 1.8 percent to 54 percent, the lowest of all categories.