Big Companies, Poor Service, Increasing Profits – How?

Following on from my previous blog post we extolled the virtues of giving brilliant customer service as a way of beating the bigger players in your marketplace. In a recent publication on Forbes he looked at the same issue from the point of view of the big companies.

The big players, and if we look at Banks, Utility Companies, and Courier Companies especially, most if not all of them, after a market resettling, are posting record profits even though they regularly rank low on most measures of customer satisfaction – so how do these two statements mutually co-exist.

Partly this seems to come from, dependant on your industry, either a government-backed, near-monopoly in the case of the banks and utility companies, to technical know-how in a complex, international boundary system with regards to the courier companies. And it also seems to follow, that making customers ‘happy’ means something different within each of these industries.

Tempering this are the even more compelling reasons for our acceptance of ever-increasing prices and reductions in the offering to customers, namely the amount of time and money that companies of this size spend on marketing, trying to change our opinion about their service. As an example, glossy TV commercials and social media campaigns, showing happy customers talking to helpful advisors face to face, when the reality is becoming very different.

It might be more useful for us all to look at these brands more closely and ask what drives us to use them, especially as there seems to be no apparent causal link between the multitude of poor customer service rankings, and any meaningful difference in their operational performance. Is it simply because there are very few other options available?

We can all agree that good service is better than bad, but these companies are doing great business, thank you very much, and perhaps we could learn something from understanding how. Or, perhaps, once you are too large to fail customers are truly reduced down to the level of percentage gains and losses, and having a suitably large marketing budget is all you need.

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