When it comes to customer satisfaction, the latest findings from McKinsey & Co. report multi-category stores, such as Target, and auto insurance companies perform the best. Those industries earned an average score of 8.5 out of 10, while Internet (7.7) and pay-TV (7.6) providers fared worst.
But businesses have been improving these scores since 2009 — a reflection of the improving economy, the study notes. (The report is from the consulting company’s Consumer & Shopper Insights division, and written by Dorian Stone, James Mendelsohn, Rob Lentz, and Julia Huang.) Specialty stores and banks were the only industries to do worse than last year, the former because of slumping satisfaction with office suppliers and the latter because of turmoil at one major bank.
Overall, the consulting company finds that subscription-based industries such as pay TV, Internet and fixed-line phones suffered less during the downturn — perhaps because of service and related factors. (No one wants to sit around and wait for the Comcast guy, apparently.) And such transaction-driven industries as airlines, retail and brokerages registered both the biggest drops, and then the biggest recoveries.
The study also finds that age is a significant driver of satisfaction, with Gen Y tending to be the fussiest in its grading of customer service and older consumers being more relaxed. “It’s remarkable to what extent age appears to influence perceptions,” the study notes, “and money doesn’t. Perhaps younger people are more demanding or older people are more tolerant; indeed, there is some evidence that older consumers are more generous graders.”
In every industry, Americans 65-plus logged higher satisfaction scores than either middle-aged (45 to 65) or younger consumers, sometimes by substantial margins.
Income, however, seems to be beside the point, and the authors found little difference based on household income.
An ongoing issue, the authors report, is that as more companies struggle to find the right balance across more channels, scores may suffer. “Complexity complicates satisfaction; consistency boosts it,” they write. “Industries that are moving towards multiple channels will see a bigger swing in CSAT scores. Consistency is linked with satisfaction. Companies with a consistent value proposition and a clear way of offering it do much better.”