Another Day, Another Dubious Satisfaction Survey Lauding Detroit

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

While Automotive News [sub] trumpets the fact that “Cadillac Joins Lexus atop Study of Customer Satisfaction,” our experience with all manner of stat house slickery behooves us to dig a little deeper into the subject. [ “league table” here.] While we eagerly await Mr. Karesh’s analytical evisceration, I’d like to share some relevant facts. First, although the “see there IS a perception gap” study is called the American Customer Satisfaction Index™, it hails from the University of Michigan. Second, it’s a racket. The academics behind the index charge companies a $35K “corporate subscription price.” If you don’t work in automotive, no problem! The ACSI covers 44 industries! Oh, and the US government. Third, methodology (as above) . . .

The indexes (shown in the diagram above) are multivariable components measured by several questions that are weighted within the model. The questions assess customer evaluations of the determinants of each index. Indexes are reported on a 0 to 100 scale. The survey and modeling methodology quantifies the strength of the effect of the index on the left to the one to which the arrow points on the right. These arrows represent “impacts.” The ACSI model is self-weighting to maximize the explanation of customer satisfaction (ACSI) on customer loyalty. Looking at the indexes and impacts, users can determine which drivers of satisfaction, if improved, would have the most effect on customer loyalty.

Confused? You should be. Suffice it to say, the man behind the program, Claes Fornell, loves him some Wall Street. Wikipedia: “He is also the lead author of a Journal of Marketing article linking satisfaction performance to stock market growth, demonstrating that a portfolio of firms with high ACSI scores consistently outperforms the market.” That’s got to help his people sell some of them $35K subs, eh?

I wonder if anyone’s ever measured ASCI’s customer satisfaction? I know one guy they should/shouldn’t talk to: Mark Fields. USA Today‘s unquestioning coverage of this domestic heartening stat-fest ends with a quote from Ford’s el presidente de las Americas.

I think in our case, the consumers are seeing new products, they’re seeing information from third parties on our quality, and it’s all raising awareness,” he says. “All of this highlighting in the media every day is helpful to us, given that we have the evidence to back up our claims.”

Define evidence.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • MichaelJ MichaelJ on Aug 18, 2009

    Detroit Todd: Without even hearing from Mr. Karesh, you assume he’s going to tear this survey to shreds, Hulk-style? Of course the expectation is that Mr. Karesh will tear the survey to shreds. After all, UofM must be biased to the domestics simply because of their location, right? Therefore Mr. Karesh must be biased to this site and will agree with the prevailing preconception here that everything domestic is bad... "Another day, another dubious satisfaction survey lauding Detroit." Implies these are coming in daily. How many such dubiousnessosities does it take before maybe...maybe...possibly...there's a little glint of acceptance that they're not actually wrong? I sure wish we could start seeing the honorable truthful non-biased scientific surveys that agree with the sentiment here that Detroit=crap and imports are perfect.

  • Happy_Endings Happy_Endings on Aug 18, 2009

    It all goes back to the old Onion headline; 98% of statistics are made up on the spot.

  • Rochester I noticed the only time you used the word "Mustang" was in the opening sentence, LOL. It's all good, should be just Mach-e anyway.
  • Add Lightness As a kid, it was Germany, then Japan, then Korea, now China. Italy was and still is, the maker of needy mistresses.
  • Add Lightness So now new Mach-E buyers have the choice whether they want to save $8,000 or become indentured the finance companies, possibly for life.Buy what you can afford, even if that means buying tools and learning new life skills.
  • Dale I like it. Not sure when we will be in the market for a 2nd EV, but this looks like a nice hatchback.
  • FreedMike Cute car. If it's priced right it could be a winner.