The National Retail Foundation along with American Express listed the top ten retailers for best customer service selected by shoppers in their sixth annual Customers' Choice Survey. Conducted by BIGresearch, a consumer intelligence firm that gauges what customers say influences their purchases, polled 9,291 shoppers and asked which retailers provided the best customer service.
The survey encompassed consumer attitudes toward retailers' customer service and how retailers promote best practices. All of the companies work in conjunction with American Express credit cards. In alphabetical order the recognized companies were:
- JC Penny
- Kohl's Department Stores
- Lands' End
- LL Bean
Four out of the ten retailers are not brick and mortar establishments, and many of the above mentioned companies we have repeatedly seen documented for their excellent customer service. So what is the common denominator?
For the most part, customers want more attention, better quality of products, and the best value for the money they are spending. Customers want a business to be aware of their patronage, and customers want to be treated like royalty. They want to have liberal return policies, respectable channels for customer complaints, and want to feel that complaints and concerns are immediately handled in an efficient and professional manner.
In lean economic times, the differences between the competition can be measured by only a narrow margin, but nonetheless, the bottom line is where the customers shop and spend their money. Companies that have sacrificed loyalty for short-term gains are suffering the consequences. Customers lose faith when a company considers customer service agents as dispensable while slashing their overall business costs. Long time customers want to be treated differently, and they want their allegiance recognized. Lands' End gives repeat customers faster service. Zappos reward their most loyal shoppers with overnight upgrades. Seasoned shoppers at Nordstrom are invited to private sales; customer representatives know their best customers by name.
Superior customer service is not hit or miss. It's a practiced, well-rehearsed part of being successful. Think of the 138 million people who shopped on Black Friday; four million more than shopped last year. Think of 70.1 million internet shoppers and the slight rise in retail spending from last year. What organization doesn't want a piece of that business? It seems that only the best are reaping the rewards of treating customers with the respect they deserve.