Companies Measured by a New Important Customer Metric: Forgiveness

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Metrics & Measurement
Customer Experience
The Temkin Group released its second annual "Forgiveness" rankings of companies in a variety of industries. This measures a customer's likelihood to forgive a company for making a mistake. The 2012 ratings asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rank 206 companies from 18 industries. Not surprisingly, many famous customer-focused companies found their way to the top of the list.

The Temkin Group recently released its second annual "Forgiveness" rankings of companies in a variety of industries. This measures a customer's likelihood to forgive a company for making a mistake. The 2012 ratings asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rank 206 companies from 18 industries. Not surprisingly, many famous customer-focused companies found their way to the top of the list.Top companies include USAA, Hyatt, credit unions, H.E.B., Hy-Vee, Dollar Rent A Car, Chick-fil-A, Publix, Costco, and Amazon.com. At the bottom of the list include companies such as Citigroup, Charter Communications, HSBC, Chrysler dealers, EarthLink, Bank of America, Comcast, Quest, and US Airways. See the complete list below.

Why is forgiveness important? According to Bruce Temkin of the Temkin Group: "Forgiveness is an asset that determines some of the long-term value of a company. Every organization makes mistakes now and again. When this happens, customers will give some companies benefit of the doubt. This provides an opportunity for these firms to recover from the error and reinforce the positive feelings of customers. But when customers don't like the company, these mistakes just reinforce previous negative feelings."

Understanding how willing customers are to forgive a mistake shows how much they trust and are loyalty to a company. No one person or company is perfect, so it's important to create a trust-based environment where one mistake or poor interaction will not destroy the customer relationship. Forgiveness is one element of Temkin Group's Customer Experience research, which breaks down the customer experience into individual experience, loyalty, trust, customer service, and web experience rankings.

What I found interesting about the data is that financial services companies placed both in the top (USAA, credit unions) and the bottom (Citigroup, HSBC, Bank of America) of the rankings. According to Temkin, "Across all 18 industries, there is a wide spread between leaders and laggards. Despite credit cards being the lowest scoring industry, USAA's credit card business came in 2nd out of 206 organizations in the ratings."

It's not the attributes of the industry that prevent or enhance customer forgiveness; it's how companies choose to approach their customer relationships. The data also shows that even high-volume retail like fast food and supermarkets can succeed in differentiating their customer experiences, and there is plenty of opportunity for cable and media companies to improve their relationships.

What do you think of the "forgiveness" metric? Do you think it provides a new perspective on customer analysis? Or is it an unnecessary metric?

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