Customer Service Hall of Fame

August 24, 2017 by Sam Stebbins

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One of the most important aspects of doing business for almost any company is customer service. In order to develop a loyal customer base and thrive, companies often need to go above and beyond customer expectations. While nearly every major U.S. company claims to prioritize customer needs, only a few are able to do so successfully.

While companies are ultimately accountable for the level of service they provide, their customers’ perceptions are subject to factors that are often outside a company’s control. Companies can suffer if they operate in a less reputable industry, even if they offer decent service. On the other hand, customers might be willing to forgive some mishaps if an industry is better perceived.

24/7 Wall St. commissioned a survey from polling group Zogby Analytics to identify the companies with the most satisfied customers. For 13 of the 151 companies considered in the survey, at least 40% of respondents report an “excellent” experience with the company.

Click here to see the 13 companies in the customer service hall of fame.
Click here to see the 12 companies in the customer service hall of shame.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

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13. Hilton
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 40.0%
> Revenue: $11.7 billion
> Industry: Hotel company

One of two hotel chains to make the Customer Service Hall of Fame, Hilton manages some 825,000 hotel rooms nationwide. Some 40% of survey respondents reported an excellent customer service experience with Hilton hotels, a larger share than all but 12 other U.S. companies.

Satisfied employees are more likely to provide quality customer service, and on employee review site Glassdoor, Hilton employees rated working at the company 4.1 out of 5 stars, well above the 3.3 star average rating. Corporate leadership can make a big difference in employee morale, and Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta has a 95% approval rating from employees on Glassdoor.

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12. Publix
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 40.6%
> Revenue: $34 billion
> Industry: Grocery store

After making the Hall of Fame each year between 2009 and 2011, supermarket chain Publix dropped off the list, finally returning after a five year absence. Over 40% of consumers swho rated the chain said they had an excellent customer experience, while only 6% said they had a poor experience. The supermarket chain, which operates over 1,100 locations in seven southern states, performs well by other measures as well. The chain ranked fourth on Consumer Reports annual ranking of best supermarket chains. Numerous studies have shown that happy employees tend to yield satisfied customers, and Publix has some of the most satisfied customers. The company ranked 21st overall on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For — and it has been among the top 100 on that list every year for the past two decades. In addition, the company has reported annual revenue and profit growth in each of the last three years, including posting over $2 billion in profits in the most recent fiscal year.

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11. Google
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 40.6%
> Revenue: $90.3 billion (Alphabet)
> Industry: Online company

Google is one of two companies owned by Alphabet to make the Customer Service Hall of Fame. The most popular search engine in the world, Google draws in an estimated 1.8 billion unique visitors a month. In addition to its online presence, Google is also the company behind the Android operating system for smartphones — by far the most popular OS in the world. The company also manufactures its own phone, the Pixel. Google’s dominance is not surprising considering more than 4 out of 5 survey respondents reported a positive experience with the company.

Thanks to the company’s dominance in its different areas of operations, its stock has been doing extremely well on Wall Street. The company’s share price soared 50% over the last two years, outperforming both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes.

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10. Marriott
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 41.1%
> Revenue: $17.1 billion
> Industry: Hotel company

Hospitality company Marriott owns some 6,000 properties in 122 countries and territories. One of the largest hotel chains in the world, Marriott is also one of the most esteemed. About 86% of survey respondents reported a positive experience with Marriott, the fourth largest share of any company surveyed. Of the 11 hotel chains considered, Marriott also has the largest share of survey respondents reporting an excellent experience. Hilton is the only other hotel to rank among the companies with the best customer service.

In addition to serving as a traditional hotel, Marriott locations are also often event venues, hosting business meetings, weddings, proms, and conventions.

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9. Chick-fil-A
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 41.3%
> Revenue: $6.8 billion
> Industry: Restaurant

Chick-fil-A is perhaps the most controversial company to make this list. The fast food chicken chain was founded by S. Truett Cathy, a fundamentalist Christian, who instilled Christianity into the chain — such as the policy that locations be closed on Sundays. With its strong religious roots, the company’s continued donations to organizations deemed to be anti-LGBT have been highly controversial. While the company might have alienated some customers, the survey only approached customers who had dealings with the company. And the customers who frequent the chain appear satisfied with the service. According to reports, the chicken restaurant aggressively trains its employees to be polite. A QSR Magazine poll of of 15 fast food restaurants found Chick-fil-A employees were the most likely to say please and thank you.

Since the company first debuted on this list in 2015, it has ranked third and second overall. This year, the company fell to ninth overall.

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8. American Express
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 41.7%
> Revenue: $33.8 billion
> Industry: Credit card company

When it comes to customer service, financial institutions often rank among the worst companies. American Express is a notable exception. One of the company’s core principles is to outdo its competitors in customer service, and with nearly 42% of customers rating their experience with the company as excellent, American Express appears to be living up to its standard.

The company offers a several categories of products, including personal credit cards, small business cards, and corporate cards, each with a range of benefit options. Currently, the company boasts some 110 million active credit cards and operations in over 130 countries.

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7. UPS
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 42.0%
> Revenue: $60.9 billion
> Industry: Delivery service

While email has made the U.S. Postal Service all but irrelevant in recent years, one area where the USPS — and the parcel delivery industry in general — has thrived has been the delivery of packages, due in part to the rapid growth of e-commerce over the last few decades. UPS, which is not obligated by law to deliver mail, has benefitted from the trend.

The company delivered close to 5 billion packages in 2016. Company revenue has increased every year since 2009, and UPS has posted profits of at least $3 billion since 2013. UPS’s success has likely translated to happier employees — and happier customers. The fact that people associate the name UPS with getting the items they want delivered to their homes likely does not hurt the company’s customer satisfaction rating, either. The delivery service has made the Customer Service Hall of Fame every year since 2010.

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6. FedEx
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 43.7%
> Revenue: $60.3 billion
> Industry: Delivery service

Founded in 1971, nearly 200 years after the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx is now one of the largest parcel delivery companies in the United States — and also one of the most esteemed. About 85% of survey respondents reported a positive experience with FedEx, a larger share than all but six other companies. The company, which serves businesses of all size as well as individuals, offers overnight shipping, tracking details, and delivery notifications.

Expanding its global reach and capabilities, FedEx has made several high profile acquisitions in the last decade, taking over multiple smaller logistics and parcel delivery companies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. In the last two year alone, the company’s revenue climbed over 27% from $47.5 billion in 2015 to $60.3 billion in fiscal 2017.

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5. YouTube
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 44.5%
> Revenue: $90.3 billion (Alphabet)
> Industry: Online company

YouTube is one of several web services companies with exceptionally high customer service ratings. According to customer service expert Shep Hyken, YouTube , like other companies that primarily operate online, has created a system that functions so well that customer service is rarely ever required. Some 44.5% of survey respondents reported an excellent experience with the company, a larger share than all but four other companies considered. 2017 marks the second consecutive year YouTube ranks among the companies with the best customer service. YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet, also owns Google, another company with top-rated customer service.

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4. Netflix
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 44.6%
> Revenue: $8.8 billion
> Industry: Online company

In addition to its popular video streaming service, Netflix also offers a DVD rental service through the mail. Like many other companies on this list with primarily online businesses, Netflix’s product is designed in such a way that customer service is rarely required. And when it is required, it appears the company steps up. About 45% of survey respondents rated their experience with the company as excellent, and another 38% said their experience was a good one.

Like most public companies that gained their customers’ confidence, Netflix has also gained investors confidence. In the last two years, the company’s share price soared 53%, double the performance of the Dow Jones index.

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3. Costco
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 45.0%
> Revenue: $118.7 billion
> Industry: Big box retailer

Costco is a membership-based warehouse retailer that sells a wide range of products at wholesale prices. Though Costco customers pay a $60 annual fee to shop at the warehouse, they report some of the best customer service experiences of any company in the United States. Some 45% of Costco shoppers report an excellent customer service experience, a larger share than all but two other companies.

Good customer service is hard to achieve without employees that that have faith in management, and workers at Costco generally approve of their employer. The company touts its fair wages and generous benefits, and employees give Costco an average review of 3.9 out of 5 star rating on employee review site Glassdoor, well above the 3.3 star average across all companies.

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2. Apple
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 46.3%
> Revenue: $215.6 billion
> Industry: Technology company

Consumer electronics manufacturer Apple is a perennial favorite for among American consumers. Though the company’s products are often far more expensive than those of its competitors, Apple has managed to garner a loyal, and growing, consumer base — as evidenced by steadily increasing sales year over year. The tech giant reported $215.6 billion in net sales in 2016, up 38% from four years prior. This year, about 83% of survey respondents rated their experience with the company as overly positive.

The company’s strong customer approval likely inspires confidence on Wall Street. In the last two years, Apple stock has climbed over 50%, outpacing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 39% climb and the S&P 500’s 30% increase.

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1. Amazon
> Pct. “excellent” ratings: 60.6%
> Revenue: $136.0 billion
> Industry: Online company

More than 60% of Amazon customers rate the company’s customer service as excellent, by far the largest share of any major company. Amazon has consistently stressed its customer-centric mission statement since its beginnings in 1994 in both public statements and company initiatives. In a 1997 letter to shareholders, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos stressed a focus on “customer obsession rather than competitor obsession” as a core ingredient in the Amazon’s success. More recently, the company has worked to expand its customer service capabilities by hiring more than 5,000 work-from-home customer service associates. Amazon has also worked to improve the customer experience through technology with the introduction of Alexa-enabled Echo, a smart speaker that offers customers support and the ability to buy Amazon products through voice command.

Detailed Findings

Customer satisfaction is closely tied to employee satisfaction. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., customer service expert and published author Shep Hyken explained that the way employees will treat customers often reflects the way they are treated by management.

The theory that happy employees make for satisfied customers appears to be correct. Each of the 13 companies on this list has a higher rating on employee review site Glassdoor than the average 3.3 out of 5 star rating across all companies.

In addition to keeping employees happy, the companies with the best customer service unfailingly provide better than average service. Referring to such Customer Service Hall of Fame companies as Amazon, FedEx, and Netflix, Hyken said, “Day in and day out, all they do is consistently provide a tiny bit above average service, which means that they’re beating the bar. The key word is consistency.”

A company’s product and customer expectations are also closely tied to quality of service. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Praveen Kopalle, associate dean for Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business’ MBA program, explained the connection.

With every transaction, the customer is receiving the actual product, and also the experience that goes with it. Tied to each piece of the transaction is a set of expectations on the customer side. Perceptions of good customer service are typically little more than “the difference between the expectations for the product and the actual product, and the difference between the expectation for service and the actual service,” Kopalle said.

“The reason Amazon and Apple are high on the list is because the actual product is good and the actual quality of the service is good, and even though my expectation for the quality of the product and service are high, the actual products and services are even higher than that.” Kopalle explained that Amazon and Apple are both able to create experiences that are personalized to the specific customer. “They exceed my already high expectations.”

Methodology

24/7 Wall St. commissioned polling company Zogby Analytics to conduct an online national survey in which more than 1,500 randomly chosen respondents rated customer service at 151 of the best-known companies in the country. Seventeen industries are represented in the study.

Respondents were asked to evaluate customer service quality as “excellent,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor.”

When a company with multiple divisions scored as one of the best or worst for customer satisfaction, the company was only listed once in our rank. Companies with the same parent company but different branding were listed separately. For example, YouTube and Google each appear on our list, even though they are both owned by Alphabet. Meanwhile, AT&T and AT&T U-verse were combined into a single entry.

The 12 companies with the highest percentage of “poor” responses comprise our Customer Service Hall of Shame. Using the same methodology, the 13 companies with the highest percentage of “excellent” responses comprise our Customer Service Hall of Fame.