Supermarkets, packaged food companies, airlines, computer companies and banks have topped the list of industries that provide excellent service for their customers, according to the latest annual Harris Poll on customer service.
The poll, which ranked 15 industries on how well they serve their customers, showed that 87% of consumers believe that supermarkets do a good job of serving them, and 77% feel this way about packaged food companies. Next on the list came airlines (74%), computer hardware (73%), banks (73%), and software (72%) companies.
However, at the bottom of the list, only 30% think tobacco companies and managed care companies do a good job. Oil companies (32%) ranked only marginally better.
There have been two quite substantial changes between 2003 and 2004. Airlines which fell very sharply in 2001 have bounced back, gaining ten points from 64% last year to 74% this year. This is an increase of 23%age points since the airlines' lowest number, 51% in 2001.
Oil companies, on the other hand, have slipped 10 points this year from 42% in 2003, to 32%. This is a fall of 32%age points since their best number, 64% in 1998. It clearly reflects the impact of high fuel prices.
Long term trends
When it comes to long-term trends over the last seven years, since we first began asking this question in 1997, five industries have fallen by 19%age points or more. Pharmaceutical companies have fallen the furthest, down 35 points from 79% in 1997 to only 44% now.
Oil companies have fallen 27 points since 1997, from 59% to 32%. Telephone companies are down 24 points from 80% to 56%. Managed care companies are down 21 points, from 51% to only 30% now. And health insurance companies are down 19 points, from 55% to 36%.
Concerns about prices are clearly the reasons for the decline in the ratings of oil companies and pharmaceutical companies. Health insurance and managed care companies declined sharply because they have had a very bad press over the last several years, even though member satisfaction with health plans has not changed significantly over this period. The decline in the image of telephone companies mostly occurred when they were locked in telemarketing battles which probably turned off many people. Quality of service may also be an issue.
About the poll
The poll was conducted by telephone in the USA between April 8th and 15th, 2004, among a nationwide cross section of 979 adults (aged 18+). Figures for age, gender, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.