History of the American Customer Satisfaction Index

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States. This strategic economic indicator is based on customer evaluations of the quality of goods and services purchased in the United States and produced by domestic and foreign firms with substantial U.S. market shares. The ACSI measures the quality of economic output as a complement to traditional measures of the quantity of economic output.

The ACSI was started in the United States in 1994 by researchers at the University of Michigan, in conjunction with the American Society for Quality in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and CFI Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Index was developed to provide information on satisfaction with the quality of products and services available to consumers. Before the ACSI, no national measure of quality from the perspective of the user was available.

The ACSI model was derived from a model originally implemented in 1989 in Sweden called the Swedish Customer Satisfaction Barometer (SCSB). Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and Chair of ACSI LLC, developed the model and methodology for both the Swedish and American versions. Hailed as the "Father of Customer Satisfaction," Claes Fornell is without question one of the most influential scholars in marketing science today. His name can be found on 3 of the top 15 most academically cited papers from the leading sources in the field—Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, and Management Science.

The ACSI was first published in October 1994, with updates released each quarter. Starting in May 2010, ACSI data became available to the public on a more frequent basis, with results released multiple times per year. This change allows stakeholders to focus more in-depth on different segments of the economy over the entire calendar year. The national ACSI index continues to be updated quarterly on a rolling basis, factoring in data from 10 economic sectors and 43 industries.