Customer Service Hall of Shame

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10. Wal-Mart
>Pct. ratings “poor”:
13.8%

Wal-Mart has been a divisive corporation for decades. It has been the subject of books and documentaries that mostly critiqued the company’s pay and general treatment of workers, as well as its devastating impact on community mom and pop businesses. The other side of the debate claims Wal-Mart is a boon to small towns that do not otherwise have access to cheap consumer goods and produce. The company also hires the elderly and persons with special needs.

While customer satisfaction is not the same as approving of a company’s business practices, it may be that respondents let their views on Wal-Mart’s ethical practices affect their customer satisfaction rating. Of those surveyed, 41.9% had an overall negative experience, while 13.8% rated their experience with the company as poor, the lowest possible rating, both very high figures. Still, plenty of people enjoyed their Wal-Mart shopping experience, and nearly one-quarter of respondents rated the company as excellent.

Companies with especially poor customer service ratings are often among the nation’s largest — with a greater number of transactions, more dissatisfied customers often accumulate. To discuss our findings, 24/7 Wall St. spoke to Praveen Kopalle, Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. According to Kopalle, Wal-Mart has plenty of resources to dedicate to improving its customer service. Long lines, relatively poor variety, and higher-than-expected prices could explain the low satisfaction, he said.

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9. Wells Fargo
>Pct. ratings “poor”:
14.0% (credit card, banking)

Many Americans held the banking industry responsible for the recent financial crisis, and Wells Fargo’s reputation may still be suffering as a result. Survey respondents rated Wells Fargo’s banking and credit card divisions equally: 14% of people reported a poor experience with each division. However, 32.2% of people had an excellent experience, relatively high compared with other poorly-rated companies.

Bad publicity may be only part of the problem. Government regulations and large fines imposed since the recession may have lowered the quality of service at many Wells Fargo branches. Despite consistently ranking among the worst companies for customer service, Wells Fargo, like other large banks, is doing well financially. Net income increased substantially in each of the company’s last three fiscal year. In fiscal 2014, Wells Fargo reported net income of $23.1 billion.

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8. T-Mobile
>Pct. ratings “poor”:
14.7%

Wireless service provider T-Mobile’s customer service reputation took a serious hit this year, causing it to make the Hall of Shame for the first time. This year, 14.7% of respondents rated the company’s service as poor. While roughly 63% of respondents rated the company’s service positively last year, the rate dropped to 58.3% this year.

The company appears to have overtaken Sprint as the third-largest wireless carrier in the country, and while it might make up for being a runner-up to frontrunners AT&T and Verizon with exceptional customer service, it also struggles in that department, as well as in other metrics. In the most recent report by Rootmetrics, the gold standard measure of network services, T-mobile ranked dead last for reliability by a considerable margin.