Tough Times Demand Better Customer Service

If there are fewer customers with less money to spend, it might seem obvious that your customer service needs to be top-notch to get more than your share of whatever demand there is.

That obvious lesson seems to be lost on the usual cast of characters according to the MSN Money’s third annual Customer Service Hall of Shame. It found that AOL LLC ranks as consumers’ top pick for the worst customer service — the second year in a row AOL has ranked worst.

The survey found that AOL received a “poor” rating for its customer service experience from nearly 45 percent of respondents. Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. ranked second with 41 percent of consumers rating their customer service experience as “poor.”

Banks also scored low for customer service. Bank of America, Capital One and HSBC all made repeat appearances on the Hall of Shame list, joined by Citibank, the only new company on the 2009 list.

Here is MSN Money’s 2009 Hall of Shame:

  1. AOL
  2. Comcast
  3. Sprint
  4. Capital One
  5. Time Warner Cable
  6. HSBC
  7. Qwest
  8. Abercrombie & Fitch
  9. Bank of America
  10. Citigroup

MSN Money also puts together an annual Hall of Fame list, with companies that score the highest for customer service. Military banking, insurance and investment giant USAA ranked No. 1 for best customer service. Here is the list:

  1. USAA
  2. Trader Joe’s
  3. Netflix
  4. Amazon
  5. Nordstrom
  6. Publix
  7. Whole Foods
  8. Apple
  9. Costco
  10. Southwest Airlines

What may be surprising is not that the Hall of Shame companies continue to do poorly but that their raw scores remain low at the very time other businesses are improving customer service in response to market uncertainty.

It probably is a good indicator of the quality of management that these companies have.  They may well be consoled by the mantra, we’re no worse than our competitors.  How much better they would do, if instead they were looking for ways of improving results.  Customer service is a powerful lever in such endeavors.

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4 thoughts on “Tough Times Demand Better Customer Service”

  1. WoW, even the Citigroup starting to chart on the MSN Money’s Hall of Shame! It looks like the banks have many “dirty secrets” hidden in the closet…

  2. I believe this is quite right because at this crunch time and cut throat competition companies have to give something extra to their customers and what a customer want just better customer services.

  3. Great customer service is also a great way to market the company or store to more buyers. Mouth to mouth marketing is propably the most effective way of marketing because if a friend recommends a store then you trust it more than any other advertisement. It’s a shame when companies don’t realize this.

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