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18 companies that suck at customer service

John Webster | Nov. 5, 2015
A recent Forrester Research report shines a spotlight across different industries on companies whose people skills leave a bit to be desired, to say the least.

The second report for 2015, released in October, reveals that most companies have a long way to go, "but they're trying," says Burns. The lowest scorers in each industry have their work cut out for them. The list of the worst scorers reads like a who's who of organizations that have plenty of publicity, and proved the old saw about any publicity being good publicity dead wrong. 

It’s hard to climb out of the cellar 

Comcast gets double the bad news in the report, earning the worst score in two industry categories. 

In an effort to improve customer service, last year, the company appointed Charlie Herrin as senior vice president of customer experience. In the press release on the new hire, Comcast's Neil Smit, president and CEO, Comcast Cable, and executive vice president, Comcast Corp., said "Transformation isn’t going to happen overnight. In fact, it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for. But that is our goal and our number one priority … and that’s what we are going to do." 

But Comcast continued to struggle with its image, and in May, after federal government regulators denied its plan to buy Time Warner Cable, Comcast pledged to devote $300 million to customer service. The plan included hiring 5,500 new customer service representatives, new technicians, and an app called Tech Tracker, building three new call centers, and redesigning its bills. 

Comcast didn't fare any better in other customer service reports. It scored the third lowest in the American Customer Satisfaction Index's 2015 Telecommunications and Information Report. The company's satisfaction score slipped 10 percent from 2014. Comcast's Internet service was rated last in that industry. 

For its part, Consumer Reports placed Comcast near the bottom in the telecom industry. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the company's hometown newspaper, Brian Roberts, Comcast's CEO said that resources that would have been directed at merging with Time Warner Cable would be directed into improving its experience. Neil Smit, head of the cable division said customer experience would come to be viewed as the company's best product. He announced a 10-point plan to achieve that. 

U.S. Cellular survived widespread billing problems in 2013, including cases where customers using electronic payment were billed multiple times, and some weren't billed at all. The company has taken a long fall from its position in first place among wireless carriers in Forrester's 2012 and 2013 U.S. Customer Experience Index reports. 

After a renewed focus on turning profits on its smartphones, Acer made a push in China by inking deals with Chinese carriers in 2012. While that may have helped the bottom line, the company still gets bad marks from Forrester in terms of customer experience. The company took the bottom spot in both 2015 reports. 


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