Learning From The Worst

Greetings. While many of us were enjoying college basketball’s Final Four championship, the readers at Consumerist were holding their own “final four” of sorts to determine the worst company in America. And for the second year in a row, the winner is Electronic Arts…a leading maker of video games. It seems that the folks at EA have been running their business with a compelling disregard for their customers. Who ever thought that would be a winning formula?

But the rest of us can learn a lot from their missteps and from the elegant response to the award, or should we say defense of their performance, provided by their COO Peter Moore who replied:

Are we really the ‘Worst Company in America? I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity. We owe gamers better performance than this. But I am damn proud of this company, the people around the globe who work at EA, the games we create and the people that play them.”

Though probably not “damn proud” enough of the people who play their games (a.k.a., their “customers”) to understand and deliver what really matters to them. And he went on to suggest that EA should never be compared to companies that pollute the planet and evict people from their homes. It’s an interesting but self-serving comparison.

In fact, customers really do matter. And the most successful companies seem to put them at the center of their decisions and actions. The companies that EA beat on the road to the trophy were three other well-known brands that customers love to hate…Ticketmaster, Bank of America, and Comcast…because they also seem to delight in taking advantge of their customers.


We win in business and in life when we pay our greatest respect to those we have the privilege to serve. And when we spend less time covering our bottoms and more time exceeding their expectations.


“Worst Company in America”

Greetings.  The votes have been cast, and the 2010 "Worst Company in America" is Comcast according to Consumers Union.  The decision was announced during a press conference yesterday, and came as no surprise to most Comcast customers and industry watchers.  After all, the company had placed second for the past two years and it was only a matter of time before its blatant abuse of customers would earn it the top prize.  

The award itself is a bit of a publicity stunt, but it's also a serious attempt to shine a spotlight on corporations that seem to have little or no regard for those they have the privilege to serve.  And by practically any measure, Comcast seems to be a most worthy recipient.  In fact, the company's "track record" of poor quality, installation nightmares, inadequate technical support, unresponsiveness, deceptive marketing and pricing schemes, and failure to listen to its customers is almost legendary.  So its defeat of Ticketmaster, last year's winner and the company that has singlehandedly made every live event significantly more expensive than it should be, was well-earned.  Though one might question how they defeated AIG, the company that gave rise to the phrase "financial meltdown."  Could it be that this Wall Street giant was old news?  Or, as one leading blogger noted:  "It all goes to show that irritating individual consumers is a really bad idea." Needless to say, Comcast officials did not attend the award ceremony or make themselves available for comment.  

At least they are thoughtful enough to lead, or retreat, by example.  Showing other companies how not to provide a valued customer experience must be their way of raising the bar (or at least the red flag).  But if you've had a great experience with Comcast, I'd love to hear about it.  And I'd even be willing to spread the good word. Even if it's the only good word.  After all, I have high expectations for companies based in the City of Brotherly–or Customerly–Love!

Golden Poo 

We win in business by treating the customer with the highest regard. And when we don't, we still have the chance to win an award.  It's just not an award that our mothers would be proud of.