Only 24 percent of American consumers are satisfied with the way accounting firms handle their phone calls, according to a new survey.

The study of 2,234 people, conducted by audio branding specialist PH Media Group, found standards in the accounting industry fell below the American average of 32 percent.

Insurance companies performed the best (41 percent), while customers of architectural firms are the least content, with only 20 percent of their customers indicating they are happy with call handling standards.

“Poor call handling is a frustrating experience for the American consumer and can be the difference between attracting new business and putting potential clients off permanently,” said PH Media Group sales and marketing director Mark Williamson in a statement. “Companies who provide a top-class call handling experience can distinguish themselves from the competition and create new positive perceptions of waiting on hold. But the research results suggest accountants still have a lot of work to do in this respect. There is perhaps a tendency among companies to focus their attention and budgets on visual marketing and internet presence but the telephone remains a crucial aspect of branding, marketing and sales.”

The study, which is the largest of its kind conducted in America, also discovered males are more satisfied (26 percent) with the way accountants answer their calls, compared to their female counterparts (23 percent).

In terms of location, people in the Northeast were found to be the happiest with their telephone experience (27 percent), closely followed by the South (26 percent), the Midwest (24 percent) and the West (21 percent).

“Regardless of demographic breakdowns, the statistics demonstrate a gap between current perceptions and desired standards across the board,” said Williamson. “Establishing a clear tone and procedure for answering the phone represents a good start, but true best practice can be achieved by implementing tools such as on-hold marketing—bespoke voice and music messages that are played on hold—to improve service and deliver a congruent brand across all touchpoints with customers.”