Two-thirds of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for select services in exchange for better service despite lower prices being a primary reason for switching service providers, according to survey findings released last week by Accenture. The survey, which polled 1,000 U.S. adults, was designed to determine the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty across 17 industries.  The findings also generated an industry ranking on the basis of general satisfaction levels.

The survey found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for better services from select industries, including managed healthcare, airlines and hotels.  However, a relatively small percent of consumers are willing to pay more for any individual service, as 20 percent represented the greatest portion of surveyed consumers who were willing to pay more to any one industry for better service.  Not surprisingly, the findings also revealed that U.S. consumers are not willing to pay more for services that are among those with which they are the least satisfied.

In terms of better service, 27 percent of U.S. consumers said they would switch providers to gain access to a live customer service representative rather than use an automated voice response system or Web site -- a reason for switching that was more frequently given by women than men.  When asked what factors would lead them to switch providers, 16 percent of the respondents said they wanted more reliable/better service, and 24 percent emphasized lower prices.   An advertising message was the least-frequently identified reason for switching service providers.

The research also generated a customer service industry ranking, based on the percentage of consumers who said they are generally satisfied with the service they receive from industries.  Postal services, banks and utilities ranked the highest, with 44 percent, 42 percent and 41 percent of respondents, respectively, stating that they are generally satisfied withthe level of service they receive from organizations in these industries. Travel agencies, car rental companies and online retailers ranked the lowest, with only 16 percent, 19 percent and 19 percent of respondents, respectively, being generally satisfied with their service levels.

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