Introducing the Customer-Employee Love-Hate Matrix for the 31 Best and Worst Large Businesses

Introducing the ‘Customer-Employee Love-Hate Matrix’, shown above

Following on from last week’s post Proof there is no relationship between employee and customer satisfaction, I would like to provide the ‘love-hate matrix’ above. It is for large businesses serving US consumers. The four cuts are:

  1. Companies that are in the top 10% for both employee and customer satisfaction.
  2. Companies in the bottom 10% for both.
  3. Companies in the top 10% for customer satisfaction and simultaneously in the bottom 10% for employee satisfaction.
  4. Companies that are in the top 10% for employee satisfaction and the bottom 10% for customer satisfaction.

There is a call to action after the data and surprises.

Data sources, defects and notes

As discussed in last week’s post, there are not many public sources of data on these subjects. The best information I can find on customer satisfaction for large companies selling to US consumers is ACSI. The American Customer Satisfaction Index team gets input from 70,000 consumers on over 300 companies. Some companies, such as Apple and Samsung, have more than one business and there are scores for each.

The only public source of employee satisfaction data I have found for the same companies is Glassdoor. Current and former employees of a company provide an overall rating for their employer. Some companies do try to game Glassdoor and some scores may therefore be overly optimistic. That does not seem likely for the companies at the bottom of the list. Glassdoor covers 600,000 companies, right down to tiny businesses. Very few of them are included in the ACSI research, which concentrates on large companies selling to US consumers only.

Wherever more than one choice was available for a business covered in the tables below, I have selected the most positive available data. I have triple-checked every number, and still welcome any error detection you may like to carry out.

Since the ACSI data is for all of 2016, I have generally used Glassdoor numbers I researched in mid-2016. There are some exceptions where the January 30th 2017 number is better and I have used it.

Best publicly-available data

If I had a choice, I would far prefer to use customer and employee Net Promoter Scores, but there is no public source for such data at all for eNPS, and public NPS scores have limited company coverage. There is no standard for measuring employee engagement. Most people promoting an employee engagement index seem to be promoting a proprietary methodology, software or consulting services. Yes, they all seem to be able to prove that their index predicts customer satisfaction and financial results, and I believe that this should indeed be the case. An agreed open standard backed by research would be nice.

I suppose I should once again note that some of the companies in the table below do not sell directly to end consumers. Their customers are resellers, brokers or other intermediaries, for whom no satisfaction data is available.


I have used the data in the Excel file that you can find on our resources page here. It is simply a copy of what was on Glassdoor and the ACSI site at the time the data was prepared. The steps I followed were:

  • Rank the 336 ACSI scores from highest to lowest.
  • Establish the ‘Top and bottom 10%’ marks by counting down 37 rows from the top and 37 rows up from the bottom.
  • Use the conditional sorting function in Excel to produce four tables, using various combinations of these ranges.

The best of the best

At the considerable risk of using ‘the D word’, here are the companies that delight both their customers and their employees. These companies are in the top 10% on both the ACSI and Glassdoor rankings.

Employees and customers love these companies

Chick-fil-A’s ACSI position should surprise nobody. It is great to see that they are also in the top 10% of Glassdoor ratings. There is no Glassdoor rating available for Lincoln automobiles on their own, so I have used the overall Ford number. I have also used the Toyota Glassdoor rating for Lexus, as there is only a single Glassdoor rating for Toyota North America. As noted last week, consumers may be dealing directly with franchise operators, rather than Ford or Toyota employees. Apple has an ACSI score of 80 for its phones, and I have used the overall Glassdoor score for Apple, as no separate number for the PC employees is available. The Subaru Glassdoor rating is for Subaru of America.

The bottom 10%

Let’s be optimistic: these are the companies with the greatest improvement opportunities! They are the only companies in the bottom 10% of the 336 businesses for which I have both ACSI and Glassdoor ratings. These are the only companies that are in the lowest 10% in both. Mediacom has had the worst ACSI score in both 2015 and 2016. This positioning of cable TV and ISP providers confirms what Bruce Temkin has found in his research.

Customers and employees hate these companies

ACSI rates Windstream and Mediacom for two different businesses, while Glassdoor has a single overall score.

Loved by customers, but…

Here is the list of companies that are in the top 10% of the ACSI ratings, while being in the bottom 10% of the Glassdoor ratings. You will see companies in trouble and ones that have constant cost pressures.

Customer love employees hate

Employees love working there, but…

This is the category with the big surprises. These companies seem to have the unfortunate combination of happy employees and unhappy customers. Each is in the top 10% of Glassdoor ratings, while being in the bottom 10% of of the ACSI scores. I can find no evidence that any of these companies is gaming the Glassdoor scores. Glassdoor says they do not allow companies to remove negative reviews. This is somewhat subtle in that they do indeed accept requests to remove reviews consider as defamatory by companies. Perhaps a little less happiness might motivate these employees to look at things from more of a customer perspective. These are companies where employees have little or no contact with customers, so there is little opportunity for their enthusiasm to become contagious.

Companies employees love and customers hate

Conclusion and call to action

Medium- and long-term business success can only be achieved by engaged employees who improve customers’ overall experience with their employers. There is no common standard or public data for employee engagement, so I have used a ‘second-best’ approach. I accept that happy employees are not necessarily productive employees. Companies can do well on Glassdoor because they have great food in the canteen, on-site child care and attractive vacation policies. None of those contributes directly to positive customer outcomes. A happy employee is not necessarily doing positive things for customers.

Companies that have high employee satisfaction but low customer satisfaction will be forced to improve if they can see competitors taking share from them. Some companies have effective monopolies, and probably won’t change quickly. They should bear in mind Willie Pietersen’s words in a Columbia lecture I attended. “Somewhere in the world, somebody has just had an idea that can kill your business.”

As I argued in last week’s blog, if you were to take a clean sheet of paper and brainstorm all the things that can affect customer satisfaction, employee engagement and / or satisfaction would probably be on the list, but not at the top. A railroad company, for example, would be likely to find that on-time arrival of trains and the availability of seats at rush hour matter more to customers than their very occasional contact with an employee. Motivated employees are of course enablers of many other things, such as getting the trains to run on time. The most important thing companies can do is to listen to customers, internalise what they want to see improved, and engage their entire workforce to make it happen.

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Maurice FitzGerald