Which Industries See the Highest (and Lowest) Customer Satisfaction Levels?

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Rebecca Riserbato
Rebecca Riserbato


Customer service has always been important, but consumer expectations for service are higher than ever before

Customer satisfaction levels

An overall rise in expectations begs the question, are expectations for customer service the same in every industry, or are there higher standards for some over others? If so, why? Below we’ll discuss; 

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Industries Where Customer Service Is Everything

There are certain industries where customer service is a make or break factor of success. Let’s discuss them. 

1. Restaurant, Food, and Beverage Industry

The restaurant, food, and beverage industry is held to a much higher standard of service than other industries because people visit establishments with the expectation that the service will complement the meal they eat. 

Bad service during a meal can leave a bad taste in the mouth, so it makes sense that the service provided will significantly impact success. A poor experience can inspire the customer to never return and even leave bad reviews on Google for others to see. 

2. Retail

Online and in-person customer service for all retailers is crucial, as customers want to get all of the help they need from their favorite stores, whether it’s easily initiating a return online, getting product recommendations, or being directed to the correct aisle during an in-person visit. 

Good service creates loyal customers in this industry, and bad service hands them to competitors. 

3. Travel & Hospitality 

The travel and hospitality industry is highly competitive as customers have many options to choose from to get what they want, from a preferred airline and hotel chain or even the rideshare app they use. 

The high-quality service these businesses do (or don’t) provide is a significant factor in their success in building loyal customers, whether an airline representative quickly helps a customer rebook a canceled flight or a local tour guide shares helpful information during a vacation.

Due to the fierce competition in this industry, a customer's deciding factor for loyalty can be the caliber of service provided.

4. Financial Services

People want the financial services and institutions they use to handle their money in a way they are comfortable with, whether it’s how their chosen bank responds to fraud or how easy it is to get someone on the phone to answer a question. Bad customer service might lead someone to believe their money isn’t in good hands and inspire them to go elsewhere. 

Customer service is critical for the industries mentioned above, but it also matters for every business. Below we’ll go over average customer satisfaction rates for various industries.

Industries With the Best & Worst Customer Satisfaction Levels

To find out the answer to our question, we first consulted the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

We gathered the average customer satisfaction levels for several industries in the last year, and here's what we found out (industries listed from lowest to highest customer satisfaction levels):

  • Full Service Restaurants: 80
  • Television Media: 80
  • Breweries: 80
  • Financial: 79
  • Hotels: 78
  • Software: 78
  • Banks: 78
  • Life Insurance: 78
  • Apparel: 78
  • Automobiles and Light Vehicles: 77
  • Speciality Retail Stores: 77
  • Online Retail: 77
  • Online Travel: 75
  • Credit Unions: 75
  • Shipping: 74
  • Cell Phones: 73

Another way to understand levels of customer satisfaction is to look at the data for support tickets. Overall, Zendesk reports that ticket volume has increased across all channels, meaning customers are filing more tickets than ever. 

bar graph displaying that customer service ticket volume has increased across all channels

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This directly aligns with HubSpot’s findings; consumer expectations for customer service are higher than ever, so consumers expect to get the help they need.

Customer churn is another valuable metric to monitor, as it is the percentage of customers that stopped using your company's product or service during a specific time frame.

Recurly found that consumer goods and retail have a higher churn rate than the healthcare industry or software industry, which isn’t exactly surprising as consumers will pick a new favorite store after a bad customer service experience. 

bar graph displaying the average customer churn rate across key industries

Image Source


Now that we know which industries have higher churn rates, let’s see which industries have the lowest satisfaction levels. 

Top Five Most Hated Industries By Customer Satisfaction Score

According to the data, these are the top five most hated industries by customer satisfaction score:

  1. Internet Service Providers: 64
  2. Subscription TV Service: 66
  3. Video-on-Demand Service: 68
  4. Gas Stations: 68
  5. U.S. Postal Service: 70

This benchmark data reports on the average customer satisfaction level for these industries. If your company tracks customer satisfaction, it’s important to see how your company compares to your direct competitors.

The data can also give you realistic expectations for customer satisfaction in your industry. If other businesses have low customer satisfaction levels, how can you capitalize on this at your business and prioritize a high-quality customer experience? A great way to get started with this is to use customer feedback software, like HubSpots,  to understand your current standing with your audience. 

Over to You

When it comes down to it, it makes sense that people are less satisfied with banks because the impact on their lives is much more significant than that of going to a brewery, meeting up with friends, and enjoying a casual drink. 

If you’re in an industry where customers are harder to please, it’s even more important to focus on improving the customer experience by building a team of empathetic customer service reps eager to act on customer service inquiries and provide a positive experience.

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