The results are in! Several companies have compiled their list of the top customer service oriented companies of 2014. As a customer-centric company, we decided that this information is key and wanted to take these lists a step further. So we integrated data from lists and articles compiled by Forbes, Temkin, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Zogby Analytics, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and J.D. Power & Associates to provide you with the top customer-centric companies of 2014 as well as their secrets for success.
The company topping our list is no surprise. How does Amazon do it year after year? They embed customer-centricity into their DNA. Here are a few practices that keep them at the top:
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos leaves one seat open at the conference table and states that the seat is occupied by the “the most important person in the room – the customer”.
- Bezos believes that, “Everyone has to be able to work in a call center” so that they have insight into the customer’s perspective. As such, each year he and thousands of Amazon managers attend two days of call center training and field calls periodically.
- Amazon appoints “Customer Experience Bar Raisers” to maintain excellent standards.
- Amazon develops products based on customer desires rather than their development team’s opinion.
- They cultivate a “culture of metrics” where they routinely engage in head-to-head tests of customers’ reactions to different features or site designs.
These practices are obviously working for Amazon. They consistently rank first on most lists of the top customer-centric companies in the world – and they are showing no signs that they may give up their spot anytime soon.
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USAA is consistently ranked as one of the best customer-centric companies. Why? Transparency and innovation. Here are some of the features that helped them reach the top of both the banking and insurance industries:
- Their “My account” system provides customers with the status of their car insurance claim 24/7 so they can be informed as early and as often as needed.
- They were the first bank to provide iPhone deposits to their customers.
- They offer to text account balances – an extremely helpful feature for soldiers in the field.
- They discount car insurance while soldiers are deployed overseas.
This degree of transparency and innovation is a huge hit with customers: 87% of respondents to a J.D. Power survey say they will “definitely buy” from USAA again and their customer retention rate is 97.8%. Incredible!
3. Hilton Worldwide
When it comes to being a customer-centric company, Hilton knows what matters. According to Joshua Sloser, VP of Digital Innovation at Hilton, 42% of hotel guests expect a response to their post on social media within an hour and this increases to 72% if it is a customer service related issue. Hilton has rolled out policies and procedures to help meet these expectations. In fact, they have taken this so seriously that they tweaked Conrad Hilton’s original Hilton vision to, “Fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality – one tweet at a time”.
4. Marriott International
Marriott continues to delight its customers by following some of the principles of their founder, J. Willard Marriott:
- “It’s the little things that make big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”
- “Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers.”
- “Great companies are built by people who never stop thinking about ways to improve the business.”
These guiding principles continue to permeate Marriott’s company culture. They expect each employee to take a customer-centric focus – from housekeepers who check to make sure the alarm is not set before they leave the room to employees in their social media division who take pride in responding to customer tweets in real-time. Upholding company core values has seemed to pay off for this Customer Service Champion!
Chick-fil-A holds the top spot for customer-centric food chains — and for good reason. Customers continuously boast a positive experience when they dine with Chick-fil-A. How do they achieve such a feat? Chick-fil-A employees respond to customers with the phrase “my pleasure” — modeled after its success when used at Ritz-Carlton. Additionally, at Chick-fil-A, employee satisfaction trickles down to the customer. In 2014, Chick-fil-A was rated one of the best companies to work for by Glassdoor.com – and their customers are reaping the benefits.
6. Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s tops the list of grocery chains that provide the best customer service. How do they accomplish this? By acquiring customer intelligence – and acting on it. They use this data to gain insight into the customer’s overall experience, develop better products and provide their customers with the service that they desire.
UPS knows their way into the hearts and minds of their customers – social media. They use social media as a tool to anticipate customer needs, to provide better customer support and to optimize efficiency. The end result? More satisfied customers.
When it comes to providing customer support, Sony takes the “strength in numbers” approach. They have over 5,300 customer service locations across the globe so that customers have easy access to support when they need it most. They also offer easy-to-use products and services to promote customer satisfaction – and to reduce the likelihood that customers have to use their support services.
9. Hewlett Packard
HP achieved an increase in customer satisfaction over the years by investing in their call center operations. Specifically, they increased the number of US-based call center agents, invested in new IVR software to provide expedited answers to customer questions and leveraged remote diagnostic tools that integrate with their call center software during support calls. As a result, customer satisfaction scores have dramatically increased – which helped to land HP a spot on many top customer service oriented company lists.
Last but not least on our list is Apple. Apple is well known for their customer-centricity. Here are a few of their policies, practices and features that constantly keep them on the lists of top customer service oriented companies:
- They ensure that upper management read customer emails regularly. In fact, CEO Tim Cook reads customer emails daily.
- They mimic features from the hospitality industry. For example, many argue that their Genius Bar is a direct emulation of a hotel’s concierge.
- They take care of their employees — which has an obvious effect on the customer.
These customer-centric practices help to ensure that Apple is loved by their fanatical fans and will continue to be for years to come.
And there you have it folks. The top 10 customer-centric companies of 2014. Want to make it on this list someday – or at least interact with your customers like these Customer Service Champions? Start putting practices into place, like these companies, that will help propel your company to the top and you just might earn a spot.
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