Last month, BusinessWeek announced its annual list of customer service champs. Jena McGregor looked behind the results and wrote: "When it comes to customer service, one might have assumed 2009 would have dealt a massive blow. Amid a brutal recession, companies slashed inventories to the bone. They cut back sharply on employee hours, benefits, and pay. Many stopped new investments in technology and store upgrades. But a funny thing happened on the way to the recovery: Customer satisfaction didn't sink like a 100-pound stone. The average score for the 25 brands that received our fourth annual Customer Service Champs award, which rates what customers think about the quality of a company's staff and the efficiency of its service, rose slightly in 2009."
I find the assumption about customer service quality suffering a "massive blow" interesting and not at all surprised it was wrong. For enterprises with a time-honored commitment to customer service, they don't typically abandon their efforts during difficult economic times. It's not only an integral part of their DNA, but they understand how it sets them apart, especially during lean periods. When customers need care the most, they can depend on these organizations to provide it. Other companies tend to step up their service initiatives in an effort to keep the customers they have. 2009's solid customer service performance makes perfect sense.
Congratulations to the top 25: Ace Hardware, Amazon.com, American Express, Amica Mutual Insurance, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Branch Banking & Trust, Charles Schwab, Dell, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Jaguar, L.L. Bean, Lexus, Nordstrom, Panera Bread, Publix Super Markets, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, The Ritz-Carlton, True Value, USAA, Wegmans Food Markets, and WestJet.
Pivot Point Solutions offered a terrific post that highlights which companies invested in their employees, their customers, and in technology in 2009. The writer also reminds us that regardless of our business, we can learn a great deal from the best practices of these organizations. I encourage you to take a closer look and share your thoughts!