Customer Service Reps Get Low Marks -- Especially Walmart's

Customer Service Americans are not happy with the current state of customer service. According to a new Consumer Reports' survey, 65 percent are "tremendously annoyed" by rude salespeople and 64 percent of respondents said that they had left a store in the previous 12 months because of poor service. Guess which store is among the worst offenders.

That would be Walmart, which was consistently ranked among the worst in customer service for its retail service in eight out of 21 industries evaluated. The survey is part of a larger investigation on customer service featured in the July issue of Consumer Reports.

Walmart or Sam's Club, and sometimes both, were among the worst in categories, including retailers for appliances, electronics, cell phones and supermarkets. By comparison, Apple won praise for its retail service for cell phones, computers, computer tech support and electronics.

Interestingly enough, brokerage firms, eyeglass retailers and pharmacies were among the highest-rated industries for service. Computer tech support, TV, phone and Internet service providers earned some of the lowest scores.

As you can imagine, satisfaction is even lower with phone service than for face-to-face interaction. The survey found that 71 percent of respondents were extremely irritated when they couldn't reach a human on the phone. Sixty-seven percent said they hung up the phone without getting their issue resolved.

"There's a feeling on the part of Americans that companies are deliberately making it difficult for them by burying phone numbers, sidestepping calls and steering customers to online FAQs instead of live human beings," said Tod Marks, senior project editor for Consumer Reports.

This is tough news to swallow if you're in the customer service industry yourself -- it may come as a surprise that you and your field are so unpopular. You might be invoking the one bad apple theory, and also thinking that if companies would just loosen the purse strings and hire more people in the U.S., instead of overloading customer service reps and depending on automation and foreign outsourcing, things would be a lot better. Let's see if the Consumer Report survey will have any effect.


Next: Target vs. Walmart -- Which One Is a Better Place to Work?


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