General Concept And Origin
The last fifteen years have witnessed the emergence of a number of national customer satisfaction ‘indexes’ or ‘barometers’. A customer satisfaction index (CSI) is meant to be a nationwide gauge of how adequately companies (and other organisations) satisfy consumers.
There are many similarities between the existing CSIs and their underlying methodologies. The basic structure of the CSI models has been developed over a number of years. The models and methodological developments are based on scientific advances in the understanding of consumer behaviour, customer satisfaction measurement and product/service quality.
A key feature underlying all approaches is that they are based on a ‘model’. This model consists of a number of latent variables (such as ‘quality’ or ‘image’) and the cause and effect relationships between them. Each of these latent variables includes several manifest variables that act as concrete proxies for the latent variable. Consumer satisfaction is the latent variable that is at the centre of the model; it is encased within a system of variables relating to causes and effects. A good model should be capable of predicting a pattern of relationships and effects
In 1989 the Swedish Customer Satisfaction Barometer (SCSB) was the first truly national customer satisfaction index for domestically purchased and consumed products and services. Originally, it contained two primary explanatory variables of satisfaction, namely the perceptions of a customer’s recent performance experience with a product or service, and the customer expectations regarding that performance.
Since then, other models and methodologies have been developed, taking their inspiration from the SCSB and its successors. In general, the models have become more complex and the number of manifest variables has increased over time.