Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

It came to light in September that Wells Fargo had fraudulently opened over 2 million credit card and banking accounts without approval from customers, allowing the bank to collect $2.6 million in fees from its customers.The bank was fined $185 million by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company.

The scandal led to a shakeup of the bank’s corporate management, a stumble in share prices, and serious, perhaps permanent damage to the company’s reputation. According to a recently released Harris poll, Wells Fargo now has the second worst reputation of any major, highly visible company. Takata, the Japanese airbag manufacturer responsible for a 42 million vehicle recall, has the worst reputation.

The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient measures public opinion on the nation’s most recognizable companies. Respondents were asked to rate companies based on six components: emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and financial performance. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the companies with the highest and lowest reputation quotients. While Takata now has the worst reputation, e-commerce giant Amazon.com remains the best. These are the companies with the best (and worst) reputations.

Click here to see the companies with the best reputations.

Click here to see the companies with the worst reputations.

Many companies on both sides of this list are customer facing, and quality of service is a key part of their reputations — for better or worse. All of the well-regarded companies on this list with data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index have a customer satisfaction score of at least 80 out of 100. Companies with excellent reputations such as Amazon, Apple, and Google have among the highest scores in the ACSI.

None of the companies with the poorest reputations has a better score than 80 in the ACSI. The subscription television service of Charter Communications, which has the eighth worst reputation of any highly visible company, has a score of just 60 in the ACSI, nearly the worst.

A company’s reputation can have a meaningful impact on its bottom line, and vice versa. Most of the companies with the best reputations, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Tesla have likely benefitted significantly from word of mouth about the quality of their products. Nearly every one of the best rated companies has reported considerable profits and several have had stock prices more than double in the past few years. With high sales and healthy profits, these companies can spend more on customer service, product quality, and employee satisfaction, creating a positive feedback loop that can boost reputation in the long term.

Meanwhile, several companies with poor reputations have lost money and have had plummeting share prices. For example, Sears shares are down by about 90% and the company has reported over $8 billion in losses over the past five years. As the company continues to lose money, it will likely be forced to cut corners, doing itself no favors in terms of customer service and reputation.

Company reputation is not just determined by the quality of products or services, but often by specific events. Wells Fargo one clear example of this, as the 2016 account scandal caused the bank’s reputation to plummet by more than 20% in a single year. Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal in 2015 destroyed the German automaker’s reputation, and the company still ranks among the 10 worst.

Several brands on this list, including Takata, are only visible enough to be considered in the Harris Reputation Quotient because they were involved in scandal. Others, such as Monsanto, Halliburton, and Chick-fil-A, have polarizing reputations closely tied to the respondent’s political convictions.

To determine America’s most and least reputable companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed reputation scores among the nation’s 100 most recognizable companies from the 2017 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ), produced by Harris Interactive. The study consists of two parts: a nominations stage in which consumers identify the nation’s most visible companies, followed by a ratings stage, in which each company’s reputation is measured on a scale of 0-100. In addition, we considered company consumer satisfaction scores from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), and company information from SEC filings.

These are the companies with the best (and worst) reputations.

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