People are often quick to complain when they have a less than stellar customer service experience, but are not quite as vocal when a business goes above and beyond their customer service expectations. So, I thought it would be fun to reach out to my network of respected experts and entrepreneurs to find out what business they think has the BEST customer service and why. Their answers range from huge corporations to mom-and-pop stores and are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice the same business mentioned multiple times. I kept each recommendation separate, as those businesses are obviously doing a great job to get multiple favorable comments!
1. The Nordstrom Way
I tell stories about Nordstrom in some of my workshops. When my wife discovered a pen mark on my daughter's blue prom gown the day before the prom, she called the store. At that store, they only had beige gowns left in my daughter's size, but the manager of the department went to another store at the end of her shift to pick up a blue replacement, brought it to my wife's business, and exchanged it for the damaged one. That's what customer service is about.
2. Eat More Chikin!
Hands down, Chick-fil-a has the best customer service and food quality I have ever seen. I travel all over North America and find that most franchises are very "hit and miss" when it comes to cleanliness, food quality, and service, but I have never eaten at a bad Chick-fil-a. In fact, I often seek them out knowing I will not be disappointed! They even take coupons that are expired or from other locations!
3. Following the Mouse's Lead
Disney. It started with characters and then went on to be the most wonderful place on earth. The park is clean, they have top notch service, and they make sure that your money brought your whole family a magic experience. Also, they are now marketing to the affluent with their private tours to make the trip memorable. I think we all should go above and beyond to make sure our clients/customers are happy from beginning to end and always have them thinking about their experience with us.
4. Superior Service for Your Site
Starting when I worked as the MIS Director for my home town, Atlas Hosting (http://www.atlashosting.com) has been there for me. They provide above-and-beyond customer service, from advice on email configurations and domain purchasing, to converting websites from one platform (Front Page) to another (WordPress), and everything in between. Their system up-time is fantastic. Whether you are a small business, a municipality, or something in-between, call or email them for your technology needs.
5. Nordstom Still Rules
I tend to shy away from department stores. My only exception is Nordstom. I love their customer service because I need not struggle to find help or the exact thing I am looking for. If the size I need is not there, they will go out of their way to call other stores, have the item sent to the store, or to my home. I feel like a princess. And it saves me so much time, I can then allow myself to wander around and look at all of the shiny things, just for fun!
6. Creative Salespeople
The Container Store selects salespeople who can envision many, many uses for its products. It is no surprise then that creative customers like me have a blast shopping with the assistance of the Container Store's salespeople. We sweep through the store brainstorming solutions to the storage problem at hand.
7. Magical Moments: Disney
No doubt, my pick for best customer service is the Disney Company. Cast Members go out of their way to make every Guest's stay magical. Where else can you go but to a Disney park where the most important job of thousands of people is to make your day better?
8. Everyone Knows My Name
My local Panera Bread store has the best customer service. Every time I go into the shop, all of the employees recognize me and call me by name. Before I even order, they know what
I want. They make me laugh and feel like I'm visiting a friend's home rather than an eating establishment. They are the Cheers of bread stores. In return, I am a very loyal customer.
9. Viva la Espana
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a conference at Hotel Arts Barcelona. At that point, I had been a marketing director at several luxury resorts, so I had a pretty good idea of what constituted exceptional service. From anticipating my needs to surprising me with creative small touches, a different standard was set. On the final day, when the Hotel Manager spoke at our final session to thank us, he received an uproar of applause and a standing ovation that went on for minutes.
Robert Rippee of FORMO
10. Personal Contact Wins the Day!
I love Netflix. They are a huge company, but never forgot what made them great. With a company this size, the fact that if there is a problem or a question, you can always get to a live human being within a minute or two is awesome...and in America no less! Not only that, but if there is a problem, they really do sincerely work to solve it and have no problem sending you an extra movie to make things right. Just a great company with an extraordinary business model.
11. The All New "F" Word
Southwest Airlines enjoys a customer recommendation rating double the industry average and nearly seven times higher than United Airlines.
Jay Conrad Levinson, says, “Southwest’s marketing doesn’t work because it sells cheap flights and destinations. It works because it helps people realize the fun of flying Southwest.” Making fun a big part of your corporate service culture will trigger innovation by your staff and increase your word of mouth advertising.
12. Piperlime for the Shoe Crazy
Piperlime is my go-to site for shoes and accessories and now, they added clothing! With a Silver Gap card, you get free shipping and free returns. You can use Gap card reward dollars and discounts on Piperlime, saving you a significant amount on brand name items. Unlike other retailers, Piperlime does not charge a restocking fee, so their returns are truly free. They also honor discounts on exchanges. If Piperlime keeps up the great service and cardholder discounts, savvy shoppers will take notice.
13. Platinum Service, Copper Price
Sincerely Nicole is a little company that continues to make a BIG difference for us. Picture it: VIP service, upscale, super-professional branding and advertising ideas from creative geniuses, and unbelievable personalized attention -- all for a budget we would've thought was laughable. Plus, they don't even mind revising stuff when I get all OCD on them. Thanks to this amazing team, we have a new name, logo, and image that we LOVE.
14. Great Service--GEICO Insurance
I love working with GEICO because they are so prompt to follow up and get results. When our son was in an accident in our van, the very next morning a GEICO rep called us and talked at length about what happened. He was kind and understanding. Within 2 days, we had a check for the full value, even before the police report was finalized. Ditto for a fender-bender I was in a year later. They make difficult situations much easier because they listen and take action. Thanks!
15. Constantly WOW'd
I have been a customer of Constant Contact for more than a year. As a non-computer geek, there have been numerous times that I've had issues formatting my newsletter and had to call into their customer service department.
Every time I have called in, and I mean EVERY TIME, I have been greeted with a smile, taken care of in a professional and efficient manner and said goodbye with a smile on my face. They have patience and will spend as much time on the phone with you as you need them to.
16. A Cut Above
Berlin's Men's Store in Charleston, South Carolina has been in business over one hundred years because of its outstanding customer service. When I lost a button from the sleeve of my blazer which I had purchased from Berlins, the store did not have an extra button to match the one I had lost. The store replaced every button on the blazer at no charge while I waited. Once when the sleeves on my tux were too short, the store delivered a new one to my home ten miles away through rush hour traffic.
Mitch Carnell of SPWC
17. Delivers...Home Made Cookies
Patriot Disposal in Prescott Valley, AZ is very customer focused. When I called to switch to their service, I was told they don't have residential service in my area (pretty rural). But they did refer me to another local, low-cost trash removal service. AND, their commercial accounts receive home made - from scratch - cookies when they sign up, personally baked and delivered by the owner's wife (and member of the team). Wish I qualified for a commercial account!!!
18. Gotta Love eFax
So, the other day I was having issues with my account and a company representative got back to my query first thing in the morning. Then, when I was looking to cancel my account, they resolved the first big issue that I had by giving me two free months and a discounted rate after that. I thought they did a really good job at reselling me and making sure I was a happy customer.
19. Fabulous Customer Service
I love RatePoint.com - I use them for all my newsletters and email marketing. Their customer service and support is above and beyond; they answer every question, solve every dilemma and make terrific suggestions. My account executive helps me with everything I need - when I was a newbie, he stayed on the phone with me, helping me design my custom newsletter template, add links, import my mailing list, etc. (Btw- this is all very easy and intuitive, he just had fun helping me). I am a fan!
20. Come To Mama!
HubSpot, the inbound marketing software expert, allows my customers to find me on the web. It didn't take much to convince me that traditional marketing just wasn't getting the job done anymore. My prospects were searching keywords on the web and contracting elsewhere. HubSpot has taught this old Mama some new tricks. My inbound marketing specialist has the patience of a saint and now, new customers call me!
21. Pasteur's Restaurant
Pasteur's Vietnamese Restaurant, Moline, IL - The food is excellent, served fresh and with no MSG. But besides wonderful food, what makes this restaurant truly memorable is the ebullient personality of the owner. He is present in the restaurant at all times, conversing with customers. After he meets you once, he will not only remember your name, but your favorite dish, even if you haven't been in for months or years.
22. Live Answer, No Auto Attendant
Web hosting services are notorious for seemingly endless auto attendant trees. Hosting.com AO requires one selection (press 1 for service, press 2 for sales). They've even got things in their proper order. I've called Hosting.com during "off hours" and a live person always answers by the third ring. My company has been using them since 1998 and their consistency is appreciated.
23. I've Been Zapped!
My experience with Zappos.com left me speechless—not easy to do. I ordered a flipcam. When I asked how long it would take to get it, the agent said she’d overnight it to me at no charge. I was skeptical, but it arrived the next day! Since then, I’ve studied their culture. Their people are dedicated, passionate, and come from service. As a customer service expert who has studied the topic for a dozen years, I can count on one hand the good ones!
24. Careerealism Service
Careerealism -- www.Careerealism.com -- gets my vote for a company who provides outstanding service. They operate in both the b2b and b2c markets.
In the b2b market, JT O'Donnell and her colleagues over deliver when it comes to promoting their approved career experts. JT did a very high quality interview with me that she posted on line the very next day.
In the b2c market, they over deliver when it comes to providing great career advice to their members. I love their Career HMO site.
25. PRWEB - Best Customer Service
PRWEB calls their clients to confirm that a press release is set to go. Their system allows any editor to know exactly where their release is and what it needs. While it can be impossible to get a support person to contact you through many online companies, PRWEB responds to requests immediately. I am thoroughly impressed with their service and use them exclusively to post releases I've written for clients. They have the best customer service anywhere.
26. Super Service - Jet Airways
Jet Airways (India) provides the best service among all airlines that I have seen. Ground staff and crew are consistently warm and friendly. I recall that they went out of their way to accommodate me in a competitor's carrier, when I was stuck at an airport and had to fly out. In-flight entertainment, food & beverages are the best. Flat bed seats in business class and cabins in 1st class are great. The frequent flier program is extremely customer friendly. Good lounges and priority service facilities too!
27. Outstanding Service
Apria HealthCare has the best customer service I have ever encountered. They deliver
health care products (respirators, oxygen tanks, suction machines, etc.) to patients'
homes PDQ - even at midnight in emergencies. Technicians arrive at prescription-
specified intervals to exchange tracheotomy cannulas (a delicate procedure for those on
ventilators); and for equipment checks and nursing training. Employees in contact with
desperate caregivers are efficient and caring. Absolutely the best!
28. Comcast: Intelligent Service!
answers their phone right away with a real person not a menu, who speaks English well, is not reading a script, and who can handle the problem fast! Incredible! My business has moved a few times in our 15 years, and we've tried every other tele-com service. Our toll-free numbers roll to the office line/fax, and our internet and TV are all on their DSL. If something goes wrong (high winds/power outs in the NW) I lose business! Comcast has been outstanding.
29. Why I love Lululemon
Lululemon doesn't just sell workout wear; every store in the chain offers free Yoga classes! They even provide the mat, which means that you don't have to lug one around. It's great for someone new to the discipline because the instructors change frequently, so you can experience different personalities and styles of Yoga. The bonus--after some of the evening classes, they offer wine or Kombucha tea, which is a great way to meet and socialize with like-minded people.
30. WESTJET... I love them!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Westjet, go to www.westjet.ca. They are the Canadian equivalent to Southwest Airlines. They are friendly, efficient, on time and don't want to reach heavily into your pocket every time you need to make a last minute change. I love the staff and their philosophy is that you are always dealing with the owner, as each employee has ownership in the company. I can't say enough good things about them.
31. Website EMTs
In the middle of the night, I have called Network Solutions customer service. They are there. They make sense. They are patient. They find solutions to problems. As a result of my experience, I have migrated clients' sites to Network Solutions because I think they are worth the money. They are people who do a good job.
32. Yes! They Did That!
Whole Foods Market – Winter Park, FL. There I was at the checkout counter, chatting with the friendly cashier as she scanned my purchases, except today was unlike most days. Suddenly, she stopped. She’d paid attention to the fact that my trip home is 30 minutes and I purchased over $100 in fresh fish. As a "customer WOW", she presented a bright lime green, padded, zippered thermal bag. I was WOW’d. Clearly, she listened, cared AND was empowered to take action! That's EXCELLENT Customer Care.
Amy M. Goodman of Bilmar
The Nordstrom Department Store brand is a perfect example of customer service at its finest. Employees are always willing to help customers and pride themselves in all around courtesy. I have even heard stories of how the store has accepted returns far past the normal date of returns. Nordstrom's stellar reputation has made them one of the leading department store chains and Fortune magazine listed Nordstrom at No. 72 in the "100 Best Companies to Work For 2009" article.
34. Breaking Bread With the Best!
PANERA BREAD: I've had many meetings at various NH locations and I am treated like ‘family', greeted with a smile, by name, every time.
MY FAVORITE: Brianne (cleans coffee area, windows & doors) knows names, birthdays & jobs of most customers. She recently bought a card for the 90th birthday of a special man (whom she walks to his car every day) and had all the 'regulars' sign it. My letter to her manager on how great she is was read at their team meeting and posted on the wall for all to see. Love it!
35. Ever Stuck on a Flooded Road?
During the dinner break of The Landmark Forum, a participant ventured out into one of Florida's infamous rain storms. His car got stuck on a flooded street. A person assisting
At Landmark Education called AAA on his own account, waited in the flood water with the participant's car until AAA arrived and ensured it was safely delivered to the Florida Center. The participant did NOT MISS ONE MINUTE of his The Landmark Forum and incurred zero expense for his mishap. Imagine a world like that!
36. Real Deal Trumps All
Lube Works in Voorhees, NJ. I pull into the bay and without so much as checking a record, the owner says, "Good to see you, Sher!" How does he DO that with 3,000 miles between each visit? There is three Stooges memorabilia in the waiting room, donuts, coffee, the daily paper for technicians and customers to share, and you get an oil change at the speed of a Nascar pit crew. His friendly wife at the counter gets you paid in minutes. Organic's got nothing on this mom-and-pop shop. Two words: Real. Deal.
37. Do You Love Your Mechanic?
NARPRO (Neighborhood Auto Repair Networks- www.narpro.com) are overhauling the auto repair industry. NARPRO helps good people find good, independent auto repair shops. One of the 26 standards shops must uphold to be in the network is having a high percentage of positive customer reviews. After a repair, customers had to answer one question: How likely are you to recommend this shop to a friend/family? They must score at least an 8. If it's lower, they do whatever possible to ensure the customer is satisfied.
38. Lika a Virgin
Business requires me to travel abroad frequently and when I do, it's Virgin Atlantic. From check in to in flight service, everyone smiles radiantly and genuinely offers excellent attention. They get customer service. Genuine service beats lip service ANY DAY!
Do you know another business providing exceptional Customer Service that wasn’t included? If so, please share it below. As always, many thanks to everyone who contributed to this article!