RSR Research: The ‘Kings of Customer Service’ – Not Who You’d Think
Through a special arrangement,
presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox,
Retail Systems Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers.
"Service" generally implies personal attention. Yet the number one
company on Temkin Group’s Kings of Customer Service list was Amazon.com,
a retailer one almost never has any kind of human interaction with. Another
three of the top ten were warehouse clubs. If you asked the founders
of these three clubs if their core competency was customer service, I’m
fairly certain they’d say no — their value proposition is about
tonnage products at great prices. I shop at Costco and I shop at Amazon. I
would call Costco "kind
of fun" and Amazon "easy," but I would never describe them
as great customer service experiences.
The findings, based on a survey of
6,000 U.S. consumers, had three criteria for ranking: functional, accessible
and emotional. Okay, I agree that Amazon is very functional and accessible.
But emotional? And the warehouse clubs are very functional. But accessible?
Emotional? Not so much.
Then there’s Apple, which only made #79 on the
list. On this score, I became (and remain) confused. Perhaps the customers
were talking about support for their iPhones or iPods, and this is where my
own anecdotal experience gets in the way. But for my money, Apple is knocking
the ball out of the park.
The 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings:
4. Sam’s Club
6. BJ’s Wholesale Club
8. Old Navy
10. Rite Aid
Source: Temkin Group
I bought my first Mac ever in December — a Macbook
Air. This is one beautiful looking machine, so I was really dismayed when I
clumsily dropped it on the floor and crushed the corner of the case. Still
functional; no longer beautiful. I had bought the extended protection program
so I made an appointment at the Genius Bar at my nearby Apple store.
I go further, I must say that in general the state of customer service in Miami
is pretty abysmal: rude, pushy and rarely helpful. The Apple Store made a lie
of that. I was treated like a queen. My helper, Martin, looked through my file,
looked at the Mac and said, "We really don’t cover this
type of damage." I wasn’t so surprised. He told me the cost to
repair would be $825. That wasn’t going to happen. I just sat there and
he kept typing. Then he said, "Paula, since this is your first Mac, and
you just got it a couple of months ago, I’m going to go ahead and get
this fixed for you under warranty, just this once. Let me confirm that with
my supervisor and I’ll be right back." Sure enough, he came back
in under two minutes confirming they would repair the computer, and printing
a receipt for me to take with me.
Accessible? Check. Functional? Beyond functional.
Emotional? I think Martin gave me my happiest experience in an otherwise crummy
So where does all this net out? No customer service is better than poor
customer service, but those of us lucky enough to experience real customer
service become dedicated for life. And just as I will likely never buy another
of a certain brand of PC, it would be very easy for me to buy most anything
at an Apple store. The Kings of Customer Service are those who (to
re-use Jack Mitchell’s
phrase) "hug their customers." I feel hugged.
- The ‘Kings of Customer Service’: Not Who You’d Think – RSR
- 103_2011 Temkin Experience Ratings (March 2011) – Temkin Group
- Amazon.com tops customer-service rankings – USA Today
Discussion Questions: Is the criteria consumers use to judge customer service changing? How can more retailers turn customer interaction from a liability into a plus?