Most large companies aspire to have a reputation for exceptional customer service. Only a select few, however, manage to earn it.
In order to find those companies that truly stand out by creating positive customer experiences, 24/7 Wall St. collaborated with research survey group Zogby Analytics, which polled more than 1,500 adults about the quality of customer service at 151 of America’s best-known companies in 15 industries, asking if the service is excellent, good, fair, or poor. (See how the survey was done and full results on the last page of this article.)
The companies with the highest share of poor ratings make up the Customer Service Hall of Shame; those with the most excellent ratings make up the Customer Service Hall of Fame. This year, e-commerce company Amazon.com topped the list for the sixth year in a row.
Many companies with top rated customer service have repeatedly made the list. In addition to Amazon.com, six other companies have made the list at least once before, including Apple, Trader Joe’s, and UPS, which are making their sixth appearance this year. Other companies are breaking into the Hall of Fame for the first time. Kroger made its debut this year, coming in as the highest ranked supermarket chain.
Of the six technology companies with enough responses to be considered, three made the Hall of Fame, while the remaining three scored better than the majority of companies.
To discuss our findings, 24/7 Wall St. spoke to Praveen Kopalle, Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Kopalle explained that the success of electronics companies such as Apple, Sony, and Samsung, may have to do with the demanding and competitive nature of the industry. He noted that tech customers are fickle and more likely than those in other industries to change their mind and use other products if they don’t have a positive experience. “It is a fast-changing industry,” Kopalle said. “Customers are always looking for newer and better things, and service becomes critical.”
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, explained how Apple in particular has managed to stand out in the technology sector.
“Customer service is not a department, it is a philosophy. Let’s use Steve Jobs as an example.
He was so focused on the customer from the very beginning. And that means people in innovation, packaging, shipping, on the retail level, and on the support level. Everything has a customer focus to it” Hyken noted.
Another industry that tends to do well is supermarkets. Kroger’s and Trader Joe’s both made the Hall of Fame, and Whole Foods fell just shy.
Kopalle noted that supermarket chains engage in good customer service by necessity in order to compete against massive discount stores such as Wal-Mart. “The question is how do you fight and survive and be profitable while Wal-Mart is trying to stock up and sell similar things. And they quickly realize that customer service is a really important way to keep customers.” It is notable that Wal-Mart makes this year’s Customer Service Hall of Shame.
Respondents gave many reasons for rating a company poorly or well, but the majority of the responses was directly related to their interaction with a company employee. Because of this, it may be that customer satisfaction is tied closely with employee satisfaction.
“Customers get their service by interacting with the employees, and so for the employees to provide better service, they have to take ownership of what they are selling,” Kopalle explained. “If you have employees who are motivated, who take ownership, who take pride in what they do, that translates to customer satisfaction right away.” Indeed, many of the companies that made this year’s Hall of Fame — notably Apple and Chick-fil-A — score exceptionally well for employee satisfaction on Glassdoor.com.
This is 24/7 Wall St.’s Customer Service Hall of Fame.