Index: Package Delivery Tops in Customer Satisfaction

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Package/express delivery service had the highest customer satisfaction rating among many industry categories in the first quarter, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

The national survey, released yesterday by the University of Michigan Business School, is part of its annual study of how 80,000 customers rank their experiences with 200 companies in 40 industries and from government agencies over the previous four quarters. It is updated quarterly.

This quarter, the index rated the parcel delivery-express mail category highest in satisfaction with a score of 81 on a 100-point scale. Last year, its score was 79.

FedEx, with a score of 83, was one of the stronger performers this quarter. United Parcel Service's score was 80, up from 79 a year ago, and the U.S. Postal Service's package and express mail service had a score of 77, up from 75. The USPS' overall score was 74, up from 72 in the same period last year.

Customers were less satisfied in industries such as cable television, wireless telephones and airlines, where Comcast Corp., Sprint PCS Group and US Airways Group Inc. had the lowest customer satisfaction.

In general, however, customer satisfaction with products and services is at a 10-year high, the survey found. Satisfaction for the first three months of 2004 was at its highest since 1994, at 74.4, up from 74 in the last quarter of 2003.

The index is produced by the University of Michigan Business School, American Society for Quality and CFI Group, and supported in part by ForeSee Results, corporate sponsor for online scores, and Market Strategies Inc., a major corporate contributor.

In general, a change in the ACSI in one quarter, adjusted for CPI, is followed by a similar change in consumption the next quarter.

"Based on the economy's customer satisfaction performance in the first quarter, we can expect a fairly strong increase in household spending," said Claes Fornell, who heads the index at the University of Michigan. "Since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the gross domestic product, it is vital to economic growth."

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