Customer Service Hall of Shame

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Detailed Findings

Poor customer service reputations tend to be heavily concentrated in certain industries. For example, of the 12 companies on this list, half are cable or satellite television service providers.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Praveen Kopalle, associate dean for Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business’ MBA program, explained why customers tend to be dissatisfied with this industry.

When it comes to cable companies, customers have a value equation in mind — the services provided by the company minus the cost. “That plays into satisfaction, because in the case of these [cable] companies, the quality of the service is not on par with what you’re paying,” Kopalle explained. Indeed, many Americans are paying hundreds of dollars a month for cable television, while video streaming companies like Netflix are offering a similar product for a fraction of the cost.

Scandal and public relations disasters can also hurt consumers’ perceptions of a company’s service. Two companies on this list have made headlines in recent months — Wells Fargo for creating millions of fraudulent accounts and United Airlines for violently removing a passenger from an overbooked flight. Though both companies made efforts to remedy their image, an unusually large share of consumers give them poor marks for customer service.

In these cases, the company’s reputation is almost certainly having an impact on customer satisfaction, explained customer service expert Shep Hyken.

Generally speaking, perceptions of customer service are also closely tied to expectations. With every transaction, the customer is receiving the actual product and also the experience that goes with it. Tied to each piece of the transaction is a set of expectations on the customer side. Perceptions of bad customer service are typically little more than “the difference between the expectations for the product and the actual product, and the difference between the expectation for service and the actual service,” Kopalle said.

Methodology

24/7 Wall St. commissioned polling company Zogby Analytics to conduct an online national survey in which more than 1,500 randomly chosen respondents rated customer service at 151 of the best-known companies in the country. Seventeen industries are represented in the study.

Respondents were asked to evaluate customer service quality as “excellent,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor.”

When a company with multiple divisions scored as one of the best or worst for customer satisfaction, the company was only listed once in our rank. Companies with the same parent company but different branding were listed separately. For example, YouTube and Google each appear on our list, even though they are both owned by Alphabet. Meanwhile, AT&T and AT&T U-verse were combined into a single entry.

The 12 companies with the highest percentage of “poor” responses comprise our Customer Service Hall of Shame. Using the same methodology, the 13 companies with the highest percentage of “excellent” responses comprise our Customer Service Hall of Fame.