Thursday, August 28, 2008

Customer Service: The Good, Bad & Ugly

In a May 2008 special report (which was also it's cover story), BusinessWeek published a series of articles on customer service. It's an interesting and all-encompassing look at what consumers are getting from corporations, and how they're demanding more.

Below is that cover image along with the various pieces published as part of the report:

- "Customer Vigilantes" is the lead story and focuses on how today's consumer world of blogs, feedback websites and access to information (such as contact #s for corporate execs) makes it much easier for consumers to express their frustrations... and publicly
( being one example).

- "Rebel with a Stalled Cause" about the customer advocacy website which has had a mixed record of success, but still provides an interesting service... the ability to look up phone #s and the menu prompts to select to get a live customer service rep at thousands of different companies.

_ "Trader Joe's Recipe for Success" about how the supermarket thrives through a mixture including excellent employees and niche product stocking.

- BusinessWeek ranking of companies on their 50 Customer Service Champs list. The top 5 according to BW are: (5) Trader Joe's, (4) Lexus, (3) Fairmont Hotels, (2) L.L. Bean & (1) USAA.


This special report reminded me of how in Jan 2006, BW published an interesting article titled "Would you Recommend Us?". It was about the fairly new concept of measuring customer sat using the concept of "net promoter scores" (or NPS) which are derived through asking customers to rate on a 1-10 scale how likely they would be to recommend that company to friends and/or colleagues.

It's an interesting idea in that it seems to to both get to the heart of how a consumer feels about a brand and also ties into a concept from the BW special report... how in today's "information society", the consumer has many new ways to tell their experiences (good or bad) with brands.

Interesting stuff.