Monday, December 9, 2013

The top 10 companies for customer service.

Last week, we’ve covered the companies who landed in the customer service Hall of Shame.  The list included, not coincidentally, a lot of telecom giants and big banks, who have designed a customer service philosophy that can only be described as “we couldn’t care less, now let’s take some more of their money.”  To be fair, now let’s give some credit to the companies who were rated with the best customer service.

The list is based on a poll conducted by MSN Money’s, who, with the help of Zogby analytics, questioned 1,500 adults about their service experience with 150 of the top companies in the United States from 15 different industries.  The companies were rated to have either “poor, fair, good, or excellent” customer service. 

Here is the list of the top 10, who all had at least 75% of respondents rate them as good or excellent with their customer service.  10 companies – out of 150 polled with the largest consumer names in the US – consistently rated “excellent” for customer service.  Many of these companies are regulars to the list - the #1 firm has held that spot for 4 years running – but there are a few newcomers, too. 

Other CEO’s should take note – a lot of these companies have been so celebrated for their commitment and caring to their customers that they’ve created a loyal following who spread the word for them.  In fact, a few of the top 10 even shut down their advertising departments because their happy customers were singing their praises so much via social media.  Yes, that means great customer service is the best advertising you can ever do.

No. 10: Lowe’s
An ‘Excellent' rating of 35.9%
If you want to know how good Lowe’s customer service is, just go into any given Home Depot on a Sunday morning.  ‘Nuff said.  Instead, Lowe’s, the other home improvement superstore with 1,750 stores in North America, invests a whopping 350,000 hours a year in customer service issues like role-playing, coaching, and personal relations with customers.  
It’s paying off – as Home Depot is closing stores but Lowe’s sales rocketed to $50.52 billion in 2012, a net income of $1.96 billion.

No. 9: Trader Joe’s
An 'Excellent' rating of 36.2%
Trader Joe’s originated with the vision of being a “great 7-11 with a big wine department,” but has grown into something so much more – marking the intersection of health, community, and a family atmosphere in a franchise model.  There are only 400 stores and they usually stock only 5% of most big grocery chain’s inventory, but they’re intent on creating fans, not just shoppers.  Trader Joe’s is actually owned by a German grocery company and is notoriously tight-lipped about its earnings, but obviously they’re doing something right! 
No. 8: Samsung
An 'Excellent' rating of 36.5%
Smasung, once a dominating force in the television market, now positions itself as the anti-iPhone.  They manufacture 30 different smart phones, emphasizing the customer experience all the way to 30% of world smart phone sales, compared to Apple’s 19%.  Samsung rung up $178.6 billion in revenue last year, making them the most prominent tech company in the world.   
No. 7: State Farm
An ‘Excellent' rating of 37.9%
Started in 1922 by a retired farmer, the insurance company is now the largest for home and auto policies with over 80 million customers.  It also focuses on customer service, with a round-the-clock customer service center.  Making their clients happy is so much a part of their DNA that the CEO, Ed Rust, has a compensation package in part based on customer retention and employee satisfaction. 
No. 6: Google
An 'Excellent' rating of 39.5%
Most people will question this one – not equating Google and customer service because they’ve never needed it or used it.  That in itself is the biggest testament to their user-friendly online searching experience.   Things rarely break or go wrong with the world’s biggest search engine, and expanded services like AdSense and AdWords receive high marks as well.  By the way, Google reported $50.1 billion in revenue in 2012 and $10.73 billion in net income.
No. 5: FedEx
An 'Excellent' rating of 40.6%
Fed Ex delivers more than 10 million packages daily, some of them odd cargo; in 2008 an inmate shipped himself out of jail in a FedEx box, and the 3,000-pound salvaged hull of the Titanic was actually flown over the Atlantic with Fed Ex.  But for the rest of us, who ship far more pedestrian objects, it’s obvious that customer service is the company’s #1 priority. FedEx’s CEP, Robert Niblock, is the best paid executive of any companies on this top 10 list with $13.7 million in earnings last year, and judging by their customer satisfaction numbers, it’s well deserved.    
No. 4: UPS
An 'Excellent' rating of 41.3%
Not to be outdone by FedEx, United Parcel Service also focuses on a customer service model as they haul 16.3 million packages a day.  It’s such a part of their roadmap to success that a good number of business proposals are first filtered through the customer service department for approval – or veto.  That eagerness to please serves them well at times like December 20th, their busiest time of the year, when they deliver 28 million packages within 24 hours!  UPS reported revenue of $54.13 billion in 2012.
No. 3: Hilton Hotels
An 'Excellent' rating of 41.8%
Conrad Hilton founded his hotel chain in 1925 with the aim of customers equating quality and service with his brand name.  He’s been successful with all decisions, as small as keeping customers out of the sunny, hot sides of his hotels and as big as uniformity of standards that all employees must memorize.  His hotel has now grown to over 550 hotels and resorts in 79 countries, a brand synonymous with a great guest experience.
No. 2: Marriott
An 'Excellent' rating of 42.6%
Marriot is another hotel mega chain that never forgets to focus on the real people and small experiences that are indispensable to a total customer experience.  They go so far as to highlight regular employees for customer service excellence.  Instead of micromanaging and turning their employees in to automatons, Marriot’s philosophy is to hire the right people and empower them to make great customer service decisions.  They now have more than 3,800 properties and 19 brands, including the Ritz-Carlton, under their umbrella.
No. 1:
An 'Excellent' rating of 57.3%
And the award for company with the best customer service goes to…drum roll please…  Amazon takes a lot of heat, single handedly upsetting the apple cart of traditional publishing and the big-box retailing model, but whatever waves they make seem to be working in their customer’s benefit.  They have slim profit margins but grow exponentially every year, a vision they constructed in 1995 when Amazon was formed with the motto “to take over the world.”  They’ve won the #1 spot for customer service 4 years in a row, in large part thanks to their 180 million happy online buyers. 

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