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Sony, Adidas and Npower shamed for poor customer service in new report

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A new study has listed the brands and industries with the worst customer service records, revealing that many premium brands aren't providing premium support - something that could be particularly dangerous during the cost-of-living crisis.

2nd Aug 2022
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A new study has named and shamed the brands and industries with the worst customer service records - and some big names top the list. 

The research – which was conducted by BusinessFinancing.co.uk – makes pretty poor reading for some of the UK’s most popular and established brands.

Fashion giants, Adidas and Reebok both made appearances inside the top five brands and industries with the worst customer service, with staggeringly high bad customer service ratings of 94.04% and 93.98% respectively.

It wasn’t just sports and casual wear clothing brands that struggled however. Designer brand Vivienne Westwood’s blushes were slightly spared by avoiding the top 10 (11th, 92.58%), but premium sunglass provider Ray-Ban wasn’t so lucky – clocking in at number eight with a slightly higher service rating of 93.20%.

Ray-Ban may be able to provide you with a stylish pair of aviators to act out your wildest Top Gun dreams, but if you need to contact customer service for any reason they may quickly become nightmares, with one review stating: “If I could give zero stars, I would”.

UK brands with worst customer service

Another industry that appeared far more frequently than they would have liked, is the energy sector. SSE, Octopus Energy, and Npower all featured in the top 20, with the latter taking second place with 94.98%.

Given the current cost-of-living crisis that has seen energy bills soaring across the UK, energy providers are in a particularly precarious position – a position that has been exacerbated by the recent news that some of the largest energy firms are posting record profits.

It is these rising costs that seem to have heavily contributed to Npower’s poor rating. Many of the complaints have claimed that Npower has passed their debts onto a third-party debt collection agency who is making inaccurate demands for bills that have, in some cases, apparently been paid.

Technology vs Travel – who’s best? Who’s worst?

Despite both fashion and energy industries performing poorly, it was travel that came out as the worst sector for customer service. Hotels (76.61%) and airlines (72.87%) had the highest overall percentage of negative customer service reviews of any sector, beating out estate agents and streaming services.

Travel came out the worst sector for customer service, with tech performing best.

This is perhaps unsurprising considering the amount of disruption that the COVID-19 virus and subsequent lockdowns caused the travel industry. As well as the recent issues with flight cancellations, reportedly due to staff shortages linked to Brexit.

What is more surprising is the paradoxical nature of the technology sector being the best at customer service, despite Sony being the singularly worst company across all sectors, with 95.64% bad customer reviews.

Sectors with the worst customer service

More generally, it makes sense that tech companies would fare best during the current climate. As a sector which has always had a strong digital presence, it has held a clear advantage over many organisations who had to ‘dash to digital’ during the pandemic.

A closer look at the 10 poorest performing tech companies also helps explain the apparent anomaly. Sony and AO (88.12%) sit comfortably higher than the other eight companies, suggesting that it is a few particularly poor brands rather than an industry-wide trend.

What was the methodology?

BusinessFinance used the review website Trustpilot to collect their data set, choosing to only include companies with at least 100 reviews, and giving preference to UK-specific profiles.

The reviews for each company were collected in two stages. Negative reviews were filtered through a keyword search of “customer service” within “poor” and “bad” ratings, with positive reviews using the same system within “average”, “great”, and “excellent” ratings.

After the data was collected, verified and checked for duplicate entries, the reviews for each company were categorised by month. These figures were used to calculate the average percentage of poor/bad reviews per industry, by dividing the total monthly poor and bad reviews across all companies in the industry by the total monthly reviews for that industry.

What next for customer service?

These latest findings seem to be a continuation of an unfortunate customer service trend, with recent reports indicating that contact centres are close to breaking point, due in part to agents’ inability to provide adequate customer service.

Add to this the recent UKCSI report which revealed that customer complaints were at an all time high, and it becomes clear why even some of the UK’s biggest brands are struggling.

If people feel that they are paying premium prices for premium brands but not getting premium customer service, they are likely to try elsewhere.

Whilst brands such as Adidas and Sony have a certain amount of credit in the bank due to their size and prestige, they cannot live off their name forever and must look at revamping their current customer service platforms.

In the midst of the cost-of-living crisis, if people feel that they are paying premium prices for premium brands but not getting premium customer service, now more than ever, they are likely to try elsewhere.

Replies (2)

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Gangadhar Krishna customer service delightingcustomers.com
By Gangadhar Krishna
04th Aug 2022 09:49

Thank you Rhys for this informative article. True, big brands are falling hard.
And one more that is rapidly slipping is Amazon. They are going from good to not so good. I am sure it is a matter of time before they start featuring in this list.
What was considered an epitome of service is not the same anymore. Very sad!

Thanks (1)
Aki Kalliatakis Photo
By aki.kalliatakis1
07th Aug 2022 09:16

Is it in company DNA, Rhys, to spend decades building success, and then screw it all up by doing really dumb things? There are so many examples, and include companies that were once revered. Other examples: Apple, Disney, and as you have written in previous articles, Amazon, just to name a few.

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