With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
In a world where terms and conditions pages read like Russian novels, it’s unfortunate that exemplary customer service is more the exception than the rule. But Friday isn’t a day to focus on the negative.
With that in mind, this week we’re tipping our hats to five companies that prove the stereotype wrong and are rewarded with happy customers and healthy bottom lines.
Zappos has a reputation for providing one of the best customer experiences out there. Its attention to customer service — and its efforts to put customers at the heart of its business model — is an inspiration to businesses the world over.
To better understand how important customer service is to the online retailer, check out CEO Tony Hsieh’s speech from SXSW 2009. You have to see it to believe it, but here’s a teaser to wet your palette: “Our whole philosophy is: Take most of the money that we would have spent on paid marketing and instead put that into the customer experience,” Hsieh said. Watch the whole thing below.
Amazon has taken a lot of flack from environmental groups for its use of “dirty” energy and failing to file climate risk disclosures with the SEC. But when it comes to customer service, the online retailer is one of the best there is.
In fact, it topped MSN Money’s Customer Service Hall of Fame list for four years in a row and also made the top five in customer service rankings from Temkin, JD Power and Forrester Research. Its user-friendly website, one-click shopping, no-hassle returns and free-shipping options have attracted some 180 million happy buyers. (Their foray into frustration-free packaging doesn’t hurt either.) Combined, Amazon customers buy an average of 9.6 million items a day, according to MSN Money.
When you think of a banking and insurance company, a joyful customer experience may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but USAA has proven to be an exception. Its banking business took the top spot in the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, which rates 233 companies across 19 industries, and its insurance arm tied Amazon for No. 2. It also received high marks from MSN Money and JD Power.
So what makes USAA’s customer experience so great? For starters, it has inarguably the best insurance program for military families and veterans — offered at rates affordable on a military salary or pension. Additionally, one out of every four employees USAA hires has direct military experience or is the spouse of someone who serves or has served, according to the company.
Beyond its outstanding commitment to soldiers and their families, USAA also boasts a whopping 13,000 customer-service agents — meaning customers are guaranteed to connect with a real, live human on the phone rather than waging an endless battle with an automated system.
Marriott, along with its Courtyard by Marriott label that caters primarily to business travelers, is the best of the best when it comes to hotel customer service. It received the highest score out of all hotels in the 2014 Customer Experience Index from Forrester Research and also scored high marks from MSN Money — which used a small budget hotel in Tampa, Florida as an example of the company’s commitment to its customers.
“It’s right there on the hotel’s website: Marriott, a multibillion-dollar worldwide chain, credits the success of one Florida property to the lady who puts the muffins out in the morning,” wrote Karen Aho of MSN Money. She’s speaking of Jinney Byrne, who not only bakes tasty morning treats, but also regularly checks on guests in their rooms at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Tampa, where many stay while receiving cancer treatment. This is only one small example, but the high ranks prove it’s one of many.
Costco proves a long-forgotten edict true: Happy employees equal happy customers. The bulk retailer is one of a select few American companies that pay a living wage to all workers, starting its employees at $11.50 per hour with an average wage of $21 per hour, not including overtime. Coincidentally, it also scored top ranks from Temkin and Forrester Research for exemplary customer service.
Did we miss your favorite company? Tell us about it in the comments section!
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and the Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.