Supermarkets, Search Engines Tops in Customer Service

September 27, 2011

harris-industries-sep-2011.JPGSupermarkets and online search engines were the two industries out of 22 major US industries with the highest net ratings of doing a good job of serving their consumers, according to Harris Poll results released in September 2011. Ninety percent of respondents said supermarkets do a good job and 10% said they do a bad job, for a net score of +80.

Meanwhile, 82% of respondents said both online search engines and hospitals do a good job of serving their consumers. However, only 8% said online search engines do a bad job, resulting in a net score of +74 (remaining respondents were not sure or refused to answer), while 16% said hospitals do a bad job, resulting in a net score of +66.

Other industries with high net scores in customer service include computer hardware companies (+61), computer software companies (+55), online retailers (+54), and ISPs (+50).

Meanwhile, the least popular industries are oil companies (-31), tobacco companies (-21),managed care companies (-13), health insurance companies (-9) and investment and brokerage firms (+3).

Auto Industry Up, Airlines Down

The biggest changes since 2009, when the survey was last conducted, are a huge improvement in the number of people who think that the automobile industry is doing a good job of serving consumers and a very large increase in those who give the airline industry bad marks. One key measure, the difference between those who think the industry is doing a good and a bad job of serving their consumers, shows a 36-point improvement, from +6 to +42 for the car industry, and a 27-point decline, from +34 to +7, for airlines.

Other sizable changes since 2009 include an 11-point improvement in public attitudes to online search engines, from +63 to +74, and a 10-point improvement in attitudes to the still unpopular health insurance industry, from -19 to -9.

Oil Tanks Since ’97

Because The Harris Poll has been asking these questions almost every year since 1997, it is possible to look not just at short term trends but also at changes during the past 14 years, although some of the industries were not included in the earliest surveys. The biggest changes (all of them declines in the images of the industries involved) across this time are:

  • A 55-point drop, from +24 to -31, for oil companies;
  • A 43-point drop, from +60 to +17, for pharmaceutical companies;
  • A 37-point drop, from +61 to +24, for telephone companies;
  • A 31-point drop, from +52 to +21, for banks;
  • A 26-point drop, from +13 to -13, for managed care companies; and,
  • A 22-point drop, from +13 to -9, for health insurance companies.

Events, Services Affect Industry Rep

There are huge differences between the reputations of different industries, some of which are widely liked and respected and some of which are very unpopular. Harris Interactive advises that events, as well as the services that they provide, can have a huge impact on how people feel about different industries, as shown by the ups and downs of many of these industries during the last 14 years.

During these years public attitudes to the auto, pharmaceutical, health insurance, telephone, banking, financial services and oil industries have moved up and down in response to events and, possibly by the media coverage of those events.

J.D. Power: Retail Banking Sentiment Improves

Consumer sentiment toward retail banks appears to have reversed its historical downward slide, increasing in 2011 for the first time since 2007, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, released in May 2011. The study finds that retail banking customer satisfaction has improved by four index points from 2010 to an average of 752 (on a 1,000 point scale) in 2011.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted by telephone and online, within the US between August 8 and 15, 2011 among a nationwide cross-section of 1,956 adults aged 18 and older.

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