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Slumping customer satisfaction across much of the US economy

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Slumping customer satisfaction across much of the US economy

But there are bright spots.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, 2015 was a year characterized by lower customer satisfaction across the board, with few exceptions. Of the 43 industries tracked by ACSI, only 5 improved, while 30 declined and the rest had no change.

The ACSI expanded its scope by more than 40% in 2015, adding approximately 100 new company measures. In total, the Index now includes more than 330 company measures, with some firms represented in several industries where they have substantial market share. Among the companies for which there are year-over-year data, 59% experienced a drop in customer satisfaction, while 26% showed improvement.

"By and large, the overall customer experience for goods and services purchased and consumed in the United States is getting worse," said Claes Fornell, Chairman and founder of the ACSI. "There are exceptions, but the overall trend of deteriorating customer satisfaction encompasses nearly every industry and is holding consumer spending in check,  forcing retailers into steeper or more extended discounts."

"The overall trend of deteriorating customer satisfaction encompasses nearly every industry and is holding consumer spending in check."

Bright Spots and Biggest Company Gainers
Three of the five industries that improved were Internet-based, demonstrating that consumers are embracing the online channel for its convenience, efficiency and price. Internet retail increased 5.1% to 82 on the ACSI's 100-point scale, taking a share of the title for highest customer satisfaction among all industries. Improvement for the group of smaller online retailers, which includes the online part of brick-and-mortar stores, pushed the industry's ACSI score higher – a sign that the online channel is more of a complement than a threat to traditional retail.

Both social media and online travel services also boosted user satisfaction in 2015. Social media overall gained 4.2% to 74, with all websites improving according to their users. The online travel service industry was up 1.3% to an ACSI score of 78, led by a gain for the combination of smaller travel websites, which includes the online presence of hotels and airlines.

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