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January 11, 2006

Comments

scott

apple
genius bar is, well..

Dennis Smith

T-Mo, hands-down.

Just check out JD Powers for the last two years. T-Mobile starts with the letter C. Well, at least we think so. Come to think of it, so do our customers.

Dennis

Pete

Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Southwest Airlines come to mind...

Dee Rambeau

Trek Bikes kicks ass in customer service. I've ordered many times from them...always correct...always prompt...and one time I got two boxes of Girl Scout cookies as a thank you.
Awesome.

olivier blanchard

Disney. (No, don't laugh.)

Check this out: http://thebrandbuilder.blogspot.com/2005/12/service-is-alive-and-well.html

Ben

PS BE very interested to know what you think of this Brand Character post... http://noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com/design/2006/01/brand_values_vs.html

Ben

Google strikes me as the obvious one.

Whilst they don't have face to face customer experiences in the tradional sense, the customer experience is amazing. As a consumer you can use pretty much all of their services for nothing. Most companies would charge a fortune for Google Earth.

Their service is always quick, slick and efficient and always customer focused.

Stephen Macklin

I have had a number of very good experiences with L.L. Bean. Starting with the lifetime warranty on footwear. I bought a pair of basic boat shoes - about $50 at the time - and they repaired or replaced them several times over a 14 year period.

I no longer live about 3 miles from their Freeport ME store so I get my Bean's stuff online. Occasionally when something arrives I don't like it as much in person as I did online. Returns and exchanges are easy.

The other company I would suggest unfortunately doesn't exist anymore. Handspring. I bought a Treo 90 several years ago and it had a defective screen. I made 1 call to customer service and they over-nighted a replacement with everything I needed to return ship the defective one at their expense.

Nolin LeChasseur

Saturn really milked it when they went to their 'no haggle pricing' and started having their Owner Picnics, etc. Not your typical call center customer service example, but certainly a focus on differentiating via the customer's buying experience during and after the sale.

fouro

There ya go!

jennifer rice

Ahh, forgot about Progressive! Perfect example of not only service, but complete transparency & customer-centricity with their "we'll show you our competitor's rates so you won't have to waste time looking them up yourself" service.

fouro

Hi Jen.

Went back in the vault and found this from the culture beats strategy days (Link below). Hope it fits the bill...

***

Progressive Insurance

Their cultural mix dictates that Intrinsic Goods, rather than instrumental ones, are the product they offer. Their auto insurance claims process is built around the fact that smashing into another person is a psychological trauma for many people. Their claims response people are there, on scene whenever possible or necessary, ASAP with a calming demeanor, your sanity in mind, a blanket, a hot cup of coffee--a guide in the situation.

Spell that COMPASSION, not I-N-S-U-R-A-N-C-E.

That big C is a huge Intrinsic Good like Love or Faith--rare, but you can't live without them. Progressive knows this and knows their rarity makes them all the more leverageable as a business purpose.

To me, this is not crass: I need insurance, I desire compassion in my life and for my loved ones. When do I want both? When I need them most.

That is how corporate culture moves from flavor of the month buzzword, to real, meaningful and--GASP--sustainable, competititve advantage.

They get it. They make buckets of money at it. And they aren't embarrassed to tell their mothers what they do.

***

Link: http://www.alchemysite.com/blog/2004/07/culture-beats-strategy.html

Geno Church

I rate taking a car in for service like getting a dental checkup. There is always a twinge of anxiety. I took my MINI in for its first scheduled service the week after christmas. And I have never experience such a high level of preparedness to service me. From the moment I pulled into the service staging area. I was called by my name without having to inroduce myself. I think customer service is an experience, from the smile to acknowledging someone by their name. And finally saying thank you for being a customer. Man it would be so easy to make a list of poor customer experiences.

Mark True

I don't know how widespread it is, but a recent visit to Target really caught my attention. I was taking back three items from the Christmas season. One was a gift with a gift receipt. One was a gift I bought but never gave and for which I had no receipt. And the third was something I'd bought for myself but for which I had no receipt. All purchases were within the previous 30 days.

This was two days after Christmas, and there was only one person in line before me and two people at the service desk. I was greeted with a genuine smile, and by using the gift receipt and scanning the credit card I used for the purchases, the customer service rep identified the charges, credited my account and gave me a gift card for the exchange inside of two minutes. And did it with a smile.

I was shocked as I walked out the door. This is a case where a little bit of technology and a little bit of brand ownership made a big impression.

Kapil Apshankar

What do you think about Dell?

Dell has not only created a great user experience for buying their laptops online but their online support is excellent as well. My personal experience with Dell online customer service and their call center has been very good!

Tim Manners

I'm not nominating Wal-Mart as an example, but I recently spoke with John Fleming, the new CMO of Wal-Mart, who previously headed Wal-Mart.com.

He said the lessons he learned in "clicks" customer service are invaluable as he now turns his attentions to the "bricks" world.

It's also interesting (and no coincidence) that Anne Saunders, top marketer for Starbucks, was previously in charge of their online operations.

Might be worth thinking about what the bricks side could learn from the clicks side.

Anyway, if you're interested in more on Zingerman's, I interviewed their co-founder, Ari Weinzweig a while back:

http://www.reveries.com/reverb/food_marketing/weinzweig

Howard Mann

"Does this emphasis (or ability to deliver) get diluted once a company gets too large?"

I would say yes. Especially since no large company experience immediately came to mind. At a certain size it becomes an enormous challenge to infuse the culture in a large group of people. In addition, companies forego the patience they showed early on in waiting for only great hires that have the mindset needed to deliver truly great service. I believe a shift occurs where dealing with customer volume takes over the quality of each interaction.

Some aspects of Jet Blue come to mind but the speed at which they are growing is starting to cause them to hire faster and faster and that seems to have started to dilute the service levels a little. However, their "home-sourced" booking agents and the fact that they hire them only by other agent referrals creates a much better service experience than any other airline or online service I have encountered.

Weave

I'm surprised you didn't list FedEx...aren't they frequently lauded for customer service?

Whadaya think?

jennifer rice

great examples; I'd never heard of Blue Fish but very interesting concept. However, looking for nationally recognized brands. This little exercise might be telling: do only the smaller, entrepreneurial companies place emphasis on making their customers feel extra-special? Does this emphasis (or ability to deliver) get diluted once a company gets too large?

Howard Mann

Zingerman's Deli (http://www.zingermans.com) in Michigan has created a great culture around great customer service, they teach classes on it and recently published an interesting little book about it.

A different approach could also be a company like Bluefish Concierge (http://www.thebluefish.com/) as the entire business is about delivering whatever their clients need no matter how outrageous the request.

Hope that is helpful.

jennifer rice

I thought about Netflix, but this brings up another question: is customer service the same thing as customer experience? I might have a great experience with Netflix (I get what I order on time, it's convenient, etc.) but is that the same thing as customer service? I think of service as humans making customers feel special and important. Easier done in 'bricks' than 'clicks.'

Tim Manners

Hi Jennifer - How about Netflix? We just posted an interview with their chief marketing officer, Leslie Kilgore, at http://hubmagazine.com ~ Tim

Eric von Rothkirch

IBM ever since they rebranded themselves as 'solutions.'

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