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The Customer Service Halls of Fame and Shame

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2012, at 4:54 PM

For the last six years, MSN Money has published a Customer Service Hall of FAME and also a Hall of SHAME.  In conjunction with JZ Analytics, they asked consumers to share how satisfied they were with recent interactions among some of the largest companies in the United States.  The 2012 lists:

2012 Hall of SHAME

Bank of America

AOL

Com Cast

Time Warner Cable

Dish

Sprint

Wells Fargo

JP Morgan Chase

Citigroup

Capital One 

2012 Hall of FAME

Amazon

Google

Apple

UPS

Sony

Hilton

FedEx

Marriott International

American Express

Southwest Airlines

Banks, credit card companies and cable companies obviously need to work on their customer service.  Interestingly, MSN says that the overall scores are higher this year.  This is consistent with the more positive sentiment among consumers noted in the American Customer Satisfaction Index which measures all industries. They attribute this positive shift to the recession as companies are putting more pressure on employees to provide better service with a threat of losing their jobs. 

The top companies in the Hall of FAME demonstrate a strong commitment to service that is woven into the DNA of the organization.  MSN cites three things that are common among all these top performers:

  • Good service starts at the top. Companies with great service have chief executives who make it their mission. They're not afraid to spend money, hire experts and structure the corporation around the goal of sterling service.

     

  • Service is seen as a continual challenge. Companies with outstanding customer service are more eager to talk about their continuing efforts than to accept praise for a job well done.

     

  • These are companies where people want to work. Companies that excel at customer service are often also known for providing relatively good pay and benefits. They trust their employees to make decisions, then routinely stand behind those decisions.
  • What struck me about these two lists isn’t the industries represented as much as it is the products/services they offer.  The “shame” list is populated entirely by companies that offer an enormous range of options and packages.  They don’t let their customers know exactly what to expect from them – unless it’s confusion – and confused customers won’t consider customer service to be pleasant even if the company is providing it by the book.  Now look at the “fame” list.  When you think of those companies, you know exactly what it is that they do.  Their customers know what to expect and aren’t nearly as likely to be upset when told that their request can’t be accommodated.

    Exceptional customer service doesn’t just happen.  It must be intentional and part of an entire corporate culture.  There are three things we can learn from the Customer Service Halls of FAME and SHAME:  1) Let your customers know exactly what it is that you provide – and what you don’t provide.  Avoid overwhelming them with options.  2) Don't try to guess which list you fall in - use a third party to measure your customer service and work to continually improve your ratings, and 3) If your ratings aren't as high as you would like them to be, invest in a regular training program that will equip your employees with the tools they need to deliver world-class customer service.

     



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    Jennifer Hendrickson was raised in Springfield, Mo., and has a bachelor's degree in finance and an MBA from Southeast Missouri State University, along with two graduate degrees in banking from Vanderbilt and LSU. After 15 years in financial services she moved to her husband's hometown of Cape in 2003. She left banking four years later to start a business consulting firm. Jennifer and her husband, Rhett, started Hendrickson Business Advisors, LLC in 2007. The firm provides management and marketing consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses across all industries. In 2010, they opened Murphy Business of Cape Girardeau, a locally owned office of a national business brokerage firm with 130 offices in the United States and Canada. Murphy Business helps individuals buy and sell businesses. Visit Jennifer's businesses online at www.HendricksonBusinessAdvisors.com and www.MurphyBusiness.com/CapeGirardeau. Jennifer can be reached at jennifer@hendricksonbusinessadvisors.com or at 573.335.1885.
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