Failing in Customer Service – What Industries and Companies are the Worst

diverse people on video call making thumbs down gesture

Failing in Customer Service – What Industries and Companies are the Worst

Do you want to be known throughout your industry as failing in customer service? Are you eager for the kind of negative reputation that vitriolic customers can give you? Is being sued by your customer base one of your top goals? If so, read on. Here we have some of the worst performing industries and brands, according to the 2021 American Consumer Satisfaction Index, JD Power 2021 Service Provider Satisfaction Studies and more.

Some of the worst industries for customer service are:

  • Subscription TV Services
  • Internet Providers
  • Social Media
  • Landline Services

Scraping the bottom of the Subscription TV Service industry are:

Fun fact: The pay TV service industry lost over 5 million customers in 2020, and AT&T alone lost 1.16 million customers in Q4 of 2021 alone. Ouch. 

At the lowest rung of the Internet Provider Industry are:

  • Suddenlink (Altice USA) = worst according to the ACSI with a score of 55 
  • Frontier Communications = JD Power has them at the worst spot in three out of four regions and they are second worst on the ACSI

The angst over internet speed (or lack of) continues to inspire responses like this video from Cracked.

Competing for last place in Social Media are:

  • Twitter = this social media giant made the bottom of the ACSI with a score of 61
  • Facebook (aka Meta) = though runner up worst on the ACSI, Meta has won the gold medal as Yahoo Finance’s Worst Company of the Year 2021 (I wonder what that award looks like.)
  • Tumblr = made the bottom of the ACSI with a score of 69 [Do people still use Tumblr?]

So how did these industries get to the bottom? Here are some brand examples [not to follow].

Twitter

Of their over 11,000 complaints on the Better Business Bureau from the past three years, 9,000+ of them are listed as “problem with a product or service.”

From account suspensions to long Quora and Reddit threads of customers trying to get help from other customers out of frustration, the biggest issues with Twitter are privacy and security.

In 2020 Twitter had another security breach:  “The social network giant said that business users’ billing information was inadvertently stored in the browser’s cache, and it was “possible” that others, such as those who share computers, could have accessed it.

That Personally Identifiable Information (PII)  includes the business users’ email addresses, phone numbers and the last four-digits of their credit card number associated with the account.”

Oops. 

That’s in addition to one Twitter bug in 2019 that made private tweets public and another that shared location data. Also, their 2018 admission to storing passwords in plain text resulted in having to notify users they should probably change their passwords, you know, just to be safe.

Service fails have a price, and not just poor ACSI scores. Twitter was fined €450,000  by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DCP) for the first aforementioned bug.

 Russia fined them 3 million roubles in 2021 for not deleting illegal content. The company is even in a lawsuit with it’s own investors over claims of false engagement data. 

To compete with this social giant in personal info fails make sure to read the GDPR and the CCPA and don’t comply with either of them.  (note to compliance officers: this is sarcasm not meant to encourage non-compliance. )

SuddenLink

Suddenlink managed to rank at the bottom on three different industry lists. Impressive. They also ranked low [or lowest] on multiple other lists for 2021:

  • On the US News report they received a 3.3 out of 5. 
  • On the Better Business Bureau the company’s rating is an F and customer reviews are 1.03 out of 5, with over 18,000 complaints closed in the last three years. There is even a disclaimer on the BBB page for Suddenlink by Altice stating “Please be advised that due to the high volume of complaints received for this business, BBB publishes 1 out of every 5 complaints handled through our conciliation process.”

This company takes last place seriously.

How did they get so much hate? Billing and service issues have the largest number of complaints. Attempts to cancel service and return equipment have been problematic with customers being charged at both their former and current homes and charged for returned equipment. Hours of waiting on the phone for service is another issue.

From one customer: “At one time they told me my wait time from this point was going to be 6 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes and if you want, punch a number and we’ll call you back. I discovered that was just a ploy to make you hang up. And it works,”  

So if you want to beat Suddenlink’s worst score, tell your customers that their call is very important to you and then just ghost them. 

Final note on Failing in Customer Service

The past two years have caused unprecedented strain on most businesses, and this isn’t to make light of that. Rather to highlight important customer service considerations that when in place help businesses navigate difficulty with their customer relationships intact, or repair them. 

Is it possible to turn a profit without good customer service? Yes, but the question is not just is it possible, but is it worth it? There are ethical and sustainability questions when both customers and employees are losing.