That recessions precipitate cutbacks at almost levels of an enterprise is no surprise. Historically, one consequence of those cutbacks has been lowered customer service owing to a paucity of staff and inclination on those that remain. Yet this time around appears to be somewhat different as a recent report in the Wall Street Journal points out based on the results of a survey conducted by the University of Michigan and widely known as the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
The report cites some leading American consumer companies as examples. Sprint Nextel is reported to have seen its ACSI score (from the index) go up by 12.5%. Others include the Cheesecake Factory which added "an online customer survey to its mystery shopper program to assess service in its restaurants". Based on results, the restaurant change simplified the way waiting times were displayed at its outlets. Others mentioned in the Journal report include Comcast Corp where its ACSI score shot up 9.5%. Some surprises by way of mention include US AIrways where ACSI scores went up 9.3% apparently due to the introduction of a hand-held scanner to trace mishandled baggage.
Airlines have found mention along the same lines at other publications including The New York Times which notes that airlines (surprisingly) are "putting some personal contact back into flying". The NYT article says that Delta Air Lines is "reviving a moribund airport service program known as the “Red Coats,”
for the crimson-jacketed service staff who roam airport concourses in
search of passengers in need."
Nevertheless, the trends are not necessarily all up as the Journal article points out that "improved satisfaction scores also may reflect lower customer expectations and a shrinking pool of customers demanding attention."
For hotel companies ACSI scores have held steady from at 75 since 2007, which is also the same as when the scores were instituted in 1995. That in itself is overall a positive given how busy the industry was in '07 and '08 (till September).