Business Week recently announced its Customer Service Champions. See Business Week’s presentation list here.
The Top Ten:
1 L.L. Bean
4 Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
5 Publix Super Markets
8 The Ritz-Carlton
9 Barnes & Noble
10 Ace Hardware
In a recent article at The Motley Fool, they look at how some stores have made it their goal to focus on the customer, and as a result are having an easier time with the current recession. They also state that over the course of five years, companies lose 1/2 their customers, and of those 2/3 claim that customer service is their reason for leaving.
Some companies realize the value of keeping customers, and are reponsible for such statistics as increasing customer loyalty by 5% can increase your profits by 25%. These stores include Best Buy, Nordstrom, Amazon, and LL Bean.
I recently came across BusinessWeek’s Customer Service Standouts slideshow. I took some time to look through the top ten to find out what made them so special when it came to their customer service. An overlying theme was treating your employees with respect. If employees love who they’re working for, love the products they’re selling, and are educated on them, odds are your customer service will be great. Here’s Business Week’s top 10 and why they made the list. 1. USAA ‘ With their service team of 12,400 receiving 250,000 hours of reinforcement training a year to service military personnel with they know their product. 2. LL Bean ‘ In the 2007 holiday season, they took time to store up their inventory, leaving less customers calling the call center to complain about items being in stock, even with the extra goods they had left over. 3. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts ‘ All employees get the luxury service when they start the job so they know what it’s suppose to be like for the customers. 4. Lexus ‘ They set up an online chatroom to converse with customers online who are thinking about buying Lexus vehicles. 5. Trader Joe’s ‘ They make an effort to pay their employees the average income in their community, and pride themselves on customer interaction in the store. 6. Starbucks ‘ January started, and they made customer service their number one priority, making changes to their current rocky business. 7. Jet Blue ‘ Their new terminal at JFK Airport in New York City will bring more security outlets, as well as more eticket kiosks. They’ve also added a Customer’s Bill of Rights. 8. Edward Jones ‘ In 2007, they implemented a system to recognize branch managers who excelled at customer service. 9. Lands End ‘ In Sears stores, their current owner, they’ve added in-store monogramming, and also computer kiosks so in store customers can browse online. 10. Ace Hardware ‘ The employees focus on being knowledgeable about their tools. This year, they’re having every employee carry around a skill matrix card, so if they’re not the expert on certain tools, they can quickly connect customers with the right person.
According to this article at Market Watch, LL Bean has given customers a way to rate their products and write their opinions thanks to Bazaar Voice. The NRF Foundation/American Express Customer Service Survey rated LL Bean #1 for customer service recently, and the company has shown that they are loyal to their customers. To make customers aware of this feature, they feature a section on their front page encouraging customers to share their opinions. This feature has been available since April 2008, and LL Bean has plans in the future to send emails out to customers who have purchased products to they can remind customers to write a review for the website. They also plan to begin including reviews in their catalogs. The system is working; as LL Bean saw their loyal customers write over 13,000 reviews in five days after an email was sent out. Their eager, loyal customers are ready to give opinions on their products. Bazaar Voice will continue to help LL Bean use these customer reviews in order to capitalize the information derived from the user generated content.