width=479While Automotive News 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 IndexTM, 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.