NEW YORK: Multi-category retailers have the highest customer satisfaction ratings among US consumers, an area where subscription-based industries are struggling, according to a new study from McKinsey.

The consultancy drew on data from 7,000 adults collected over the last seven years. In its most recent survey, multi-category retailers posted the best satisfaction scores, on 8.55 points out of a possible ten.

Participants awarded auto insurance firms 8.54 points on this measure, while brokerages recorded 8.46 points and supermarkets yielded 8.4 points. Hotels followed on 8.36 points, with speciality stores on 8.34 points.

Banks came next on 8.34 points, with mobile phones on 7.92 points, airlines on 7.81 points and the United States Postal Service on 7.76 points. Fixed phone lines logged 7.75 points, with internet service providers on 7.68 points and pay-TV on 7.59 points.

"Consistency is linked with satisfaction; companies with a consistent value proposition and a clear way of offering it do much better," the study stated. "The companies that have the most satisfied consumers also report the tightest distribution of responses."

Only banks and speciality stores saw their totals decline versus 2010, and brokerages and internet service providers were both flat.

More broadly, McKinsey revealed that subscription-dependent sectors like pay-TV witnessed less of a contraction in ratings during the financial crisis, but also a lower improvement afterwards.

"The difference may be that transaction-based services may have made cost-driven cuts to service in the downturn, given their lack of predictable revenue," it said.

"For subscription-based businesses, the stability of the customer service structure and service levels plays well to the relative important of those elements in the overall customer relationship. That focus makes for stability in turbulent times."

By channel, customer satisfaction totals when visiting bricks and mortar sites like stores or bank branches came in at 8.35 points, reaching 8.24 points for dealing with firms on the phone, 8.29 for doing so online and 8.33 points for mobile services.

Consumers earning more than $100,000 per year registered an average score of 8.48 across five major sectors, standing at 8.29 points for their counterparts with incomes of between $50,000 and $99,000.

This stood at 8.38 points for people with an income in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, and 8.24 points for individuals with salaries below this amount.

Data sourced from McKinsey; additional content by Warc staff