This is an assumption suggested by Howard Lax and Robert Schumacher in a recent article entitled, “Insight Connection” in a recent edition of Marketing News.

They state, “Every business strategy is built around retaining customers, and strong customer relationships hinge, in turn, on interactions andexperiences that meet and exceed customer expectations.”

While I am a huge proponent of having “customers for life,” implementing customer satisfaction measurment and improvement programs, having customer bonding programs and ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction, a number of businesses/industries come to mind for which I do not believe any of their business strategies are built around retaining customers.

Their business strategies are built around making money rather than “The Integrity Chain:” Integrity –< Trust -< Repeat Business -< Profitability.

Four immediately come to mind:

  • Financial institutions
  • Airlines
  • Health clubs
  • Cable companies

I know that none of these industries score particularly well in customer satisfaction surveys. In fact several were in the 2012 Customer Service Hall of Shame:

  1. Bank of America — the largest financial institution in the country. 41% of credit card customers say the bank has poor customer service, while 39% of banking customers rate customer service as poor.
  2. Comcast — even though their poor customer service rating has declined from 41% to 31% in the last two years.AOL — still hard to cancel and the spokesperson had the gall to tell the reporter 75% of our users don’t know they don’t need to subscribe to check email.
  3. AOL is not familiar with the concepts of transparency and having integrity and honesty with customers.
  4. Time Warner Cable — in the “Hall of Shame” for five consecutive years with little change. Based on my experience, TWC believes they’re a utility company that treats their customers like they have no other choice. No wonder millennials are opting out of cable.
  5. Dish Network — perhaps their deceptive advertising and poor customer service is catching up to them.
  6. Wells Fargo — perhaps Wachovia provided a better customer service experience?
  7. Sprint/Nextel — spent a lot of money with Dan Hesse on TV and now more focused on mergers and acquisitions, which will raise prices for those customers they do retain.
  8. J.P. Morgan/Chase — the number two financial service company in the country, right behind Bank of America.
  9. Citigroup — there’s a reason New Yorkers have any name for this financial institution.
  10. Capital One — claims they’ve improved their call center. I’d bet their still measuring CSR performance based on highly quickly a call is resolved very how pleased the customer is with the call.

So while companies may say they’re concerned about retaining customers are they really?

Do they talk to their customers to find out what’s working and what’s not?

Do they get back to customers to let them know how they’ve addressed their concerns?

Do they know if their customer has an emotional connection with them? Do they care?

While I agree that all companies should be built a around a business strategy of retaining customers, and I believe there’s a positive correlation between customer satisfaction and financial performance, it’s obvious some companies, and industries, place more emphasis on it than others.

What do you and your firm do to ensure that you end up in the Hall of Fame and not the Hall of Shame?

Tom Smith

Experienced marketing professional who has worked with more than 120 clients in 18 different vertical industries. ♦ Differentiate products and services by improving UX and delivering memorable CX to create an emotional connection to the brand. ♦ Obtain insights from analytics to solve business problems and drive revenue. ♦ Develop and implement marketing campaigns that double traffic and leads in three months. ♦ Certified Marketing Automation Professional ♦ Certified Voice of the Customer (VOC) Professional