Forbes just released their first-ever list of the top performers in the world of customer service — and the results are pretty illuminating! For us CX-ers, there’s a lot to gain from analyzing which businesses made the cut and why.
Using a year’s worth of customer review and survey data collected by consumer-focused data analytics company HundredX, Forbes ranked the top 300 businesses that are consistently keeping customers happy. The list also distinguishes between different brand categories, so you can see who the A-players are across industries like grocery, hardware, insurance, and specialty retail.
Taking the top spot: the printing and shipping experts at The UPS Store:
Award sub-categories further highlight CX success across distinct areas. While The UPS Store holds the title for best service overall, Chick-fil-A has the best people, Jimmy John’s takes the cake for speedy service, and USAA delivers on resolution.
There are certainly some surprising names that rank high for incredible service! It’s clear that glitz and glamour aren’t key defining factors in delivering remarkable CX. At a glance — and based on your own experiences as a customer — what do you think makes these businesses stand out?
The Customer Service GOAT: What Makes UPS The Best?
Despite being a huge company with major global presence, as a franchise, The UPS Store maintains that homey, local feel. Staff are encouraged to take the time to build relationships with their customers, referring to them by name and providing the friendliest service possible.
“Our franchisees and associates are typically members of the community where the store is located,” says President of The UPS Store, Sarah Casalan Bittle. “Staff members often know their regulars and make them feel welcomed."
FedEx, which snagged the #19 spot on the list, has been extremely conscious in ensuring their team works hard to create strong connections with customers, offering ongoing training to reinforce their Hero Framework: Hear, Empathize, Respond, Own.
Now, kindness and attentiveness go a long way. But of course, that isn’t the be-all-end-all for good customer service. What makes The UPS Store’s CX worthy of the gold medal?
Experts say it’s ease of service.
Rob Pace, CEO and founder of HundredX, says the secret sauce of customer service-focused companies like UPS, Fed Ex, Discount Tire (#9), and Valvoline Instant Oil Change (#11) is simple, streamlined service that doesn’t leave customers scratching their heads.
Consider when you’re trying to ship a heavy, awkwardly shaped, or fragile object across the ocean in time for the holidays. Or maybe you don’t know the first thing about cars, aside from how to drive one. Simple service that meets your needs? Well, that’s just the thing you need.
“A consumer is stressed about something they have to execute, and it’s almost like these angels take away the problem and have the necessary services to fix it. It’s immediate gratification,” says Pace.
A good thing to keep in mind is that simplicity and ease don’t have to mean boring. Creative solutions for modern problems — particularly in our era of e-commerce and online shopping — are worth their weight in gold.
Take Warby Parker (#14) for example. This popular eyewear retailer offers a digital try-on tool, so you can skip the guesswork of figuring out if your chosen pair suits your unique face shape, without stepping foot into a physical store.
Culture Club: Making Good CX a Core Company Value
If you haven’t heard of Shep Hyken, you gotta check out one of his books or keynote speeches. This guy is a bona fide CX guru, penning the Amazon bestseller “The Cult of Customer.”
Hyken says, “anybody who’s on that front line who is ever going to interact with a customer needs to understand this awesome responsibility they have to be the one person representing the entire company at that moment—like the CEO of the moment.”
At the end of the day, customer service isn’t just a singular department within your company — it’s a core value that should influence all aspects of business. Make amazing CX intrinsic to your company culture.
“Customers today no longer compare you to your direct competitor, but to the best service that they experienced from anywhere,” says Hyken. “People have been educated by these rockstar companies as to what great service and a great experience is all about, and you need to live up to that expectation.”
And Now for Something Completely Different.
If the Forbes list is like The Oscars of customer service, The Guardian just released their Golden Razzberries: The 2023 Awards for Worst Customer Service. Let’s have a laugh over some of these catastrophically bad CX fiascos.
Kicking off the list for worst customer service of 2023 is the famed British bank, which did an absolute doozy by informing a customer that she was *checks notes*... dead.
A 91-year-old widow called the bank to have her late husband’s name taken off their joint account. Barclays responded by freezing her account, stopping all pension payments, and cutting off her phone line and energy supply. The woman, who wasn’t quite tech-savvy enough to navigate their online support system, had to take two buses across town to reach the nearest surviving branch following mass closures. Upon arrival, staff informed her that she, too, was listed as deceased. That’s an M. Night Shyamalan-level plot twist you’d never see coming.
Another British bank (yikes, guys!) gets an honourable mention for worst customer service. A bedridden stroke patient was more than a bit disappointed to hear that Santander required him to arrive in person for a security check before making an online payment. Their suggestion: hire a private ambulance to bring you here. Safe to say that doesn’t exactly align with their company mission statement: “Simple, personal, and fair in everything we do.”
One would think that if 18 runaway water buffalo busted through your shrubbery and fell into your fully insured swimming pool, your insurance would cover the £25,000 repair bill, right? Apparently not — after receiving (and ignoring) the expert quote they had personally procured, NFU Mutual dragged their heels for ten months and eventually awarded the client a much smaller settlement sum. It wasn’t until The Guardian put NFU Mutual on blast that the insurers finally conceded to paying the full amount due.
Want your business to rank higher among the best of the best in CX? If simplicity and ease are what you’re aiming for, check out our collection of Customer Journey Maps and Templates so you can better visualize your customers’ experiences from start to finish.