What's Behind Customer Satisfaction Awards?

from the payola dept

Plenty of ads these days tout some award a company is supposed to have “won”. After all, having an independent group saying your customers are happy makes for a good ad, except when that company might not be so independent. A San Francisco newspaper columnist has highlighted how J.D. Power and Associates, one of the better known of these research and awards companies, makes money from the companies it studies by charging them a licensing fee to use its name in advertising — a situation that looks a little shady. Even though J.D. Power says it’s got a Chinese wall separating its different units and eliminating any impropriety, other consumer groups won’t let their names be used in advertising material for fear of appearing biased. It’s hard not to be skeptical of companies like J.D. Power when they tout the results of surveys on things no customer seems happy with, like service from cell phone companies. Many of these studies are all relative, and scores are calculated on an industry average, often times making the “winner” simply the least worst of a bad bunch. When a company’s advertising implies its service is great — after all, they’re the “best” in their industry — and customer experience doesn’t bear that out, it’s no wonder questions are raised about where these companies get their money.

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