Temkin: Pay TV, ISPs Garner Most Consumer Complaints

When it comes to customer satisfaction, pay TV suppliers and ISPs ranked last among 20 industries

In a survey of 10,000 consumers for 315 companies across 20 industries, it was pay TV and Internet service providers (ISPs) scoring dead last when it comes to consumer satisfaction, according to a new report.

More than 21% of ISP and more than 20% of pay TV customers reported a bad experience with their service in the past six months, a rate “considerably above” any other industry, according to Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group, the Waban, Mass.-based customer experience research firm which conducted the annual survey.

A distant third on the list of industries with the most complaints was wireless at 12.5%. The industries with the least complaints were retailers and grocery stores, at about 4% each.

Among all companies, Time Warner Cable (27%) and Comcast (27%) scored No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, for the highest level of consumers reporting bad experiences. Only now-defunct airline AirTran Airways scored worse (28%). HSBC Bank logged in at No. 4 with 25% of its customers complaining about their business relationship.

Of the dozen industries that Temkin has tracked for all six years it’s done its annual report, ISPs have seen the biggest declines when it comes to consumer satisfaction. And according to Temkin, pay TV providers are most at risk among industries in seeing bad consumer experiences hurt their bottom line (a nearly 7% drop in revenue, directly correlated to consumer dissatisfaction).

"Bad experiences are very costly for companies," said Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group. "But when companies respond effectively to a bad experience, they can dramatically shift consumers' spending patterns."

Temkin’s research found that when companies in general respond poorly to complaints, 63% of those consumers will simply cut back on their spending. That’s compared to only 24% of customers who do the same when a company responds in a positive way. And 30% of consumers said they’re more likely to spend more when they get a positive response to their complaints.

The report also found that while 76% of consumers will share a bad experience, only 69% will do the same after a positive interaction with businesses. Of those who share a bad experience, roughly half do so with friends, nearly 20% head to Facebook, and about 10% vent on Twitter.