Each day, consumers interact with the brands that have become near-permanent fixtures in their lives. From banks and retailers, to grocery chains and TV service providers, certain companies are a constant presence. But, just because consumers depend upon a particular chain or provider to meet their needs doesn't mean they are necessarily satisfied with the service the company offers.
As part of the 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, the Temkin Group evaluated 235 companies based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers. "Customer service is a critical moment of truth for many companies, often times occurring when customers are emotionally charged," says Bruce Temkin, managing partner at the Temkin Group. "Getting these experiences right is a critical component to any overall customer experience effort."
The study allowed consumers to answer the following question about the businesses they interact with the most: Thinking back to your most recent customer service interaction with companies, how satisfied were you with the experience? Based on a 1-7 scale-one being "very dissatisfied" and 7 being "completely very satisfied"-the survey then ranked the various brands that garnered at least 100 responses based upon their "net satisfaction" score. The following results highlight the primary findings from this study:
- Overall grocery chains saw the greatest overall satisfaction rate, with retailers and fast food chains rounding out the top three industry averages.
- While 23 percent of companies earned "strong" or "very strong" ratings, 37 percent earned "weak" or "very weak" ratings.
- USAA ranked the highest, earning the top two spots for both its insurance and banking businesses, with credit unions, Ace Hardware, Charles Schwab, Dollar Tree, Chick-fil-A, Sonic Drive-In, Hyvee, Costco, and Trader Joe's garnering the other top spots.
- Charter Communications took the bottom spot for the second year in a row, as TV service providers and Internet service providers represent nine out of the bottom 10 spots in this year's rankings. Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Optimum, and CareFirst round out the bottom five companies according to the 2013 survey.
- USAA, Alaska Airlines, credit unions, Advantage, Kaiser Permanente, TriCare, Charles Schwab, and Bright House Networks all earned ratings 15 or more points above their industry's average.
- Apple stores, US Airways, RadioShack, HSBC, and 21st Century all received ratings that were 15 or more points below their industry's average.
- For the 171 companies that were ranked in both 2012 and 2013, year-over-year, 44 percent of companies saw improvement, while 47 percent saw their ratings decline.
- While brands such as Citibank, Hyundai, Nissan, and Old Navy saw double-digit increases since 2012, brands such as LG, Toshiba, Cox Communications, and Budget saw double-digit declines.
Key takeaway: Though many of today's most well known companies continue to satisfy customers with their superior service, many fail to shine. "While there are companies like USAA, Ace Hardware, Charles Schwab, Dollar Tree, and Chick-fil-A, that seem to get it right, the 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings show that many companies struggle to deliver good customer service," Temkin highlights. "The problem has reached an epidemic proportion for TV service providers and Internet service providers, which took nine out of the bottom 10 spots in the ratings." Because success often rides on a company's ability to offer continued customer satisfaction, those that fall at the bottom of the rankings must look to the top-rated brands for lessons on how to generate better results. Poor performance, particularly on a constant basis, has the potential to lead to customer attrition, and these ratings serve as an accurate warning sign for those that truly need to boost their brand's customer service approach.