Bad Corporate Behaviour Impacts Customer Experience


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Co-operative Bank, Tamworth

This post originally appeared on my Forbes column here.

Your customer experience or the service you deliver is not just about how your employees treat or serve your customers, it’s also affected by corporate strategy and the actions of your executives.

Over the last couple of months the press in the UK has spent a lot of time focusing on two things:

  1. Most of the large UK energy firms have been putting their prices up, with some firms reporting price rises as high as 11% for gas or electricity. This has created a lot of uproar and concern amongst consumers, particularly with the onset of winter and many in the UK facing ‘fuel poverty’; and
  2. The antics of Paul Flowers, the Co-operative Bank’s former chairman, who was arrested last week in connection with the supply of illegal drugs. He has now been removed from his post.

Now, those stories are interesting in themselves. But, when it comes to customer service and customer experience, what I found more interesting was the following:

  1. A story in The Evening Standard which reported that complaints have surged at the ‘Big 6’ energy firms in the UK, on the back of their recent price rise announcements; and
  2. The release of a report by Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre which shows that The Co-operative Bank has dropped out of the UK’s top 100, when it comes to the delivery of customer experience. This is compared to a position of 26th out of 100 last year. (The report, which is the 4th in an annual series, aims to assess the quality of customer experience that is delivered by the UK’s top companies).

Most of the customer reaction and the decline in the perception of these companies is not down to a decline in operational effectiveness.

Amazon and Starbucks in the UK have also suffered negative effects on their customer experience rankings over the last year as a result of a number of stories in the press about their accounting policies and how much UK corporation tax they pay. According to the Nunwood report, Amazon has fallen to 4th in the rankings after three years at number 1, whilst Starbucks, like the Co-operative Bank, has dropped out of the top 100.

What these stories highlight is the impact corporate and management behaviour has on a firm’s reputation, integrity and on the perceptions of the experiences and service they deliver.

These examples highlight what Maya Angelou meant when she said:

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So, when aiming to improve customer experience we need to remember that it’s not just a function of what your employees do but also what bosses and firms do too.

This post originally appeared on my Forbes column here.

Thanks to harrypope for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


  1. Adrian: It would be hard to imagine that an employee of any company whose CEO had been arrested for drug trafficking would feel positive about working for the company. Naturally, this would affect how customers perceive the company. Some might call it a ‘ripple effect,’ but it’s stronger than that.

    I wrote about similar issues a few weeks back, in a blog titled Announcing the 2013 Sales Ethics Hall of Shame. The four companies profiled, Pilot Flying J, US Coachways, Star Scientific, and Dun & Bradstreet Credit Corporation, were all implicated in illegal or unethical sales behavior. The bad results extend beyond broken trust and tainted reputations, and the financial risks are as large or larger than any other risks businesses face.

    Companies often brush off those risks, saying “oh, that could never happen here. But when those companies employ people in leadership positions who can’t distinguish right from wrong, those problems can – and will – come home to roost.


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