Since March Madness is kicking into gear, I figured I would tell everyone about a bracket I have been following recently. The Worst Company in America Tournament (WCIA) is put on by Consumerist.com, and it pits companies with poor customer service and customer satisfaction against each other. 

The set-up is like this, after an initial nomination phase the field is narrowed down to 32 awful companies by online viewer polling.  It is then set up just like an NCAA March Madness bracket that pits one bad company against another to be voted on by the online public. This continues round after round until one company manages to “outsuck” them all and win the honor of worst company in America and the golden poo trophy.

Now, just a disclaimer: Consumerist.com doesn’t pull any punches in getting their opinions across especially when it comes to the WCIA.

I know this is funny and, personally, I love it but it does have a serious side.  These companies just can’t seem to get their acts straight, and 75% of them are repeat competitors.  Why is this? I don’t believe it is the act of bitter customers seeking revenge on the big innocent company by slandering its good name.  There are clear reasons, some simple and some complicated.

If we look at the first round, it is Walmart vs. Best Buy.  Both rank extremely low on the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).  Both have had issues with warranties, returns, offline and online customer service, and even violence.  How do these companies get their acts together? Simply put, they can’t or won’t.  They make so much money that the losses from poor experiences don’t truly matter to them because of their high volume of interaction.  This high volume could be at fault for their apparent shortcomings, but it could also mean that making changes isn’t cost effective because of this volume as well.  This was a real nail-biting contest, and Best Buy put up quite a fight, but Walmart pulled out the win with 58% of the vote hence moving on to the next round.

Also in the first round we have Google vs. Facebook.  These tech companies seem to do little right.  Facebook is trying to “know you” so well it is now following you offline and charging for popularity. Google is attempting electronics again and is going the route of the existing electronics crowd that already have some of the worst customer service.  People interact with these companies on an hourly basis and if something sours it can damage everything very easily.  This is one where high interaction makes consumers take services for granted.  I can live without Facebook but if Google crashes, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one to think the world was ending.  I believe Google does an okay job, and my experiences with their technology online and off have been, for the most part, positive.  This sentiment is reflected in the vote with Facebook trouncing Google to move on to the next round with 89% of the vote.

The one thing that most of these companies have in common is that they make the same mistakes over and over again.  Making a mistake is normally a good thing because ideally you learn from it.  Even making the mistake twice, it is still a learning experience.  But allowing it to continue again and again, causes customers to take notice and your company suffers for it.  These repeated mistakes would never fly in the world of B2B and if our clients treated their customers the way some of the companies in this tournament do they would go out of business.

I recommend that you look this bracket over yourself and even cast a vote or two.  Consumerist.com does an excellent job putting this on and I thank them for it.  Their insights are funny, truthful, and help bring to light that the worst company in America is based on the consumers, not just the numbers.  Please follow the link below and enjoy!

http://consumerist.com/2013/03/18/here-are-your-contestants-for-the-2013-worst-company-in-america-tournament/

This is fun and entertaining, but it raises questions about what you should do to not make this list.

Max Daniel
Business Development Manager

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