Study assesses industries according to customer satisfaction

Customer service is often overlooked as marketing tactic.

Customer service is often overlooked as marketing tactic, but research has shown that many consumers are willing to pay more for good service. However, that trend may shift according to the industry in question.

The results of a poll released this week by Harris Interactive shows a substantial increase in customer service standards and satisfaction in the automotive industry, even amid a decline in sentiment toward the airline industry.

Topping the list of markets cited as doing a good job at serving their customers were supermarkets, with 90 percent of individuals responding positively. That sector was followed by online search engines, hospitals, computer hardware companies and computer software companies, respectively.

"During [the past 14] 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, no doubt, by the media coverage of those events," Harris reports, adding that underlying political connotations may also affect such standards.

For example, Democrats have sought to label their Republican opponents as being too close to "big oil" or the healthcare industry in order to score support.