The ever-widening accountability gap

There seems to be a growing gap in Corporate America between the image our leading organizations seek to project and the customer service they actually provide.

For example, I’ve recently discussed alarming customer service gaffes by the likes of Sprint and Mercedes-Benz. Now, apparently, we have yet another member of the corporate image hall of shame.

Last Sunday’s New York Times article by Joe Nocera spotlighted the huge gap between the Apple iPod’s image, its actual performance and the company’s horrific customer service. Without going into elaborate detail, suffice it to say that Apple does everything in its power not to provide service to the countless number of iPod owners who have had product quality issues.Ipod

The thing that worries me about the Apple, Sprint and Mercedes-Benz cases is that their corporate communications departments either ignored calls from the media asking for explanations, or simply issued a terse, "no comment."

What’s become of accountability? Do these corporations believe their corporate image campaigns will negate their poor service? Do they think that, by ignoring their customer service issues, the problems will simply go away? American consumers are smarter than that. They have long memories. And, with the advent of the Internet, blogging and other technologies, they have become newly-empowered to decide with whom they’ll spend their hard-earned cash. The more companies abuse their customer relationships, the more likely those customers will find other companies, services and products to partner with.

America’s iconic corporations need to address the accountability gap before it becomes a chasm too wide to close.

Hat tip to Ed Moed for his thoughts.

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