Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Business Week's Customer Service Elite Picks

Business Week has just published its first ever Top 25 Customer Service Elite listing which has some interesting and - by the looks of the comments they're getting - controversial picks. (Their list is based on J.D. Powers customer satisfaction ratings, somewhat massaged.) Most of the companies on the list I have no experience with, a small number I have had very positive experience with, and one that's on everyone's perennial list I know mainly through what I see on TV.

USAA is numero uno. I don't know anything about their customer service as I'm not now, and probably never will be, one of their customers. But they were a client of a company I worked for years ago. My memories of USAA are fond. It may be telling that they were a really wonderful client to deal with, which may speak to overall organizational policy. I also made one quite memorable trip to their HQ. It is the only place I've ever been where I looked out the window and saw buzzards sitting in trees staring at me. For that alone, I'm delighted to see them on the top of the list.

Whenever I'm in Syracuse, I try to get to Wegman's. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the stores are clean, attractive, and well-stocked; have loads of great prepared foods; and have very personable workers. While we don't have Wegman's in the Boston area, we do have a small supermarket chain with a similar philosophy: Roche Brothers. I go well out of my way to shop at Roche Brothers and, on top of being great stores, the founding fathers, errrrr, brothers, are extremely philanthropic and generous. While they may never make the BW list, this company sure makes mine.

I cannot imagine NOT having homeowners and auto insurance with Amica. Two years ago, we had a burst pipe in our building (a small condo with 6 units). The burst pipe caused extensive damage in our unit - my husband and I spent over a month in hotels while the repairs were going on - and Amica could not have been more pleasant and helpful to us during our time of woe. As it turned out, most of the damage to our unit was structural and covered by the condominium association's building policy. We were fortunate that our personal property losses were small - we were hoping that our ancient TV, which was both dropped and inundated in the course of "the flood" would be a loss, but it wasn't. But Amica got a good sized bill from us for the 40 days and 40 nights we spent in a hotel, and for the cost of moving our furniture in and out so that our floors could be restored. The paid promptly and without any quibbling and, although we had been warned that our premium would go way up because we'd made a claim, it didn't. Amica gets a five-star rating from me.  

Nordstrom's is coming to the Boston area soon, but I've been to both the mothership in Seattle and their Providence store, and the service is unbelievable. A colleague and I arrived in Seattle late on the afternoon, the day before a big meeting with a partner. Unfortunately, we'd been traveling casual and my colleague's luggage didn't arrive. Oops. We buzzed over to Nordstrom's and they were able to outfit -and tailor - Scott while we waited.

One nice "regular" touch at Nordstrom's: the clerk doesn't hand you your bag over the counter, he/she walks around and hands it to you. Small touch, but nice and classy.

Southwest Airlines gets major props from the BW survey - the article leads with an anecdote about their great customer service. All I know about Southwest is what I see on the reality TV show, Airline.  I have no idea whether this show is still on, but for a while I was riveted by it. Yes, their personnel seemed genuinely helpful, but pretty much every show was about customers who were ticked off because they'd gotten bumped from their flight due to Southwest's overbooking policy. Maybe they've changed their ways, but all I can say is that if an airline has a deliberate overbooking policy, they have no choice but to have wonderful, over the top, effusive, butt-kissing customer service.

Jet Blue was slated to be in the list, but they got bumped because of their recent agita (which I posted about on Pink Slip). BW claims that their decision to dump JetBlue was a tough one - and no doubt it was. It will be interesting to see how long it takes JetBlue to recover from its fall from grace.

Among others who made the list: car makers (Cadillac, Lexus, Porsche, Buick, Lincoln), hotels (Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Marriott), financial services (Washington Mutual, Edward Jones and Raymond James - are those guys related?), both UPS and Fedex, both Enterprise and Hertz (what happened to Avis trying harder?), and a few oddballs: Cabela's hunting-fishing gear and Apple - the lone tech-related company.

Heavy on the high end, I'd say: Cadillac, Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln, Four Seasons, Ritz, Nordstrom. Maybe it's easier to spend the money on customer sat when you charge a lot.

Anyway, an interesting list - definitely worth looking at and thinking about.


Traffic said...

Dear Maureen. I work @ the providence place Nordstrom, in the womans shoe dept, and it is with great pleasure that I came across your blog on our service. Thank you for the nice words.

Brian H

Maureen Rogers said...

Brian - One of the things I failed to mention that's so great about Nordstrom's is that they carry shoes in odd widths (like 10 AAA). As I type this comment, I'm wearing a pair of shoes bought at the Providence store. Thanks for the great service.