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The Best Company for Service? The Answer will Surprise You

Posted on  27 August 12  by 

Comment (6)

During our research on Ending the Customer Expectations Race, CCC asked nearly 1,000 customers the question, “What is the best company for customer service?” and the most popular response was:


If you’re having trouble reading that response, it’s “Can’t think of one”.

CCC decided to take the verbatim responses from a recent customer survey and enter them into a program to create a word cloud.  If you’ve never seen a word cloud before it’s a pretty cool program that shows the frequency of the use of words by the size of the font of those words.  So, the more frequently a word or words are used, the bigger the font is in the word cloud.  And when CCC entered the verbatim into the word cloud machine the largest response was “Can’t think of one”.  Not Amazon or Zappos or Nordstrom.  It was, “You know, I can’t think of one”.


Think about that for a minute … when we asked nearly 1,000 customers to tell us who is the best company for providing customer service, the #1 answer on the board *by far* was “Can’t Think of One”.

Now this was really surprising to us … we expected to see a bunch of the companies that often get publicized for providing superior customer service.

Admittedly, Amazon gets a lot of buzz, and their name was fairly big in the word cloud … but “Can’t Think of One” absolutely crushes them in terms of size.  In fact, those companies that are often spoken about in the media & that we, as service executives, tend to think of as being the gold-standard, actually didn’t pop up very often at all.

And in a time when many service executives and their teams are developing strategy for the next year, I think this is a pretty heartening piece of data.  Instead of chasing some of those aforementioned companies’ approaches to service, we should focus our attention on creating a low-effort experience anytime a customer contacts service.

What do you think?  Is this good news, or troubling?  Would you rather know who the leader is, or set your own strategy?  Let us hear from you.


CCC Resources

Ending the Customer Expectations Race

Issue-to-Channel Mapping Tool

Anatomy of a World-Class Contact Center

Comments from the Network (6)

  1. Jerome Pineau
    on August 30, 2012

    Actually I’m not surprised — I’d be hard-pressed to answer the question myself. And even when one or two names come to mind, next thing you know, months later, the experience is entirely different.

  2. Lawri Williamson
    on August 30, 2012

    This is really intriguing, but I’m curious to know why such a small sample? Among fewer than 1,000 people, you could have unintentionally surveyed a large percentage of non-online shoppers, which would explain Amazon’s and Zappos’ lower-than-usual rankings. It’s interesting to see the word cloud format (survey results in a format us non-numbers people can understand!), but I don’t think I’m ready to dismiss anyone’s customer service approach based on the survey results.

  3. Mike McCaslin
    on August 30, 2012

    This finding appears to fit with prior studies. For example, psychological research has shown that negative experiences carry more weight and are more likely to be remembered than positive experiences. Consequently, while the surveyed customers seemed to have difficulty identifying companies that excel in service, I suspect that they would have no trouble listing companies that provide poor service.

  4. Richard
    on August 30, 2012

    Well it is actually a relief. We are constantly measuring our service in part based on what other similar companies are doing. This shows me that there are real limits to benchmarking research. It says to me — it doesn’t matter what other companies are doing, really. We need to take care of our own customers, fully leverage the interaction to positively impress them and not really worry about what other companies are doing.

  5. Pete
    on August 31, 2012

    Love the comments, everyone, and thanks for leaning in! A few responses:

    - CCC uses control variables to ensure that the findings hold true for the vast majority of companies, regardless of industry, location, size of the company, etc., so we’re confident that these findings hold true with a sample of nearly 1,000.

    - the word cloud is really easy to use, and you may even want to drop some customer verbatim in to see what “jumps out” … it may surprise you what words pop, and what words don’t!

    - negative service experiences definitely have a more enduring impact than positive ones, as we’ve seen in a recent survey that showed customers are much more likely to spread negative-word-of-mouth after a service experience than PWoM.

    - and, finally, I’m with you, Richard! I think this finding is a relief … it certainly tells me that, when I’m designing a strategy with my team, what others are doing, or “keeping up with the Joneses”, is a lot less important than I may have thought in the past.

  6. Dave
    on September 6, 2012

    I must say with the economy as it is I have received unexpectedly good or over the top service from many companies large and small. Recently on vacation I was initially overcharged for my golf reservation. My friend was more familiar with the quoted rate (discounted for the property we were staying at) and at the end of the round we inquired about the charge – we were overcharged $9. We got a prompt cash refund of $10 plus the pro gave us a sleeve of $13 balls! There was no reason he had to toss in the balls, but perhaps he thought his goodwill might have an impact on generating repeat business.

    The ACSI is near its highest historical level so it’s not like everyone is getting mediocre service. I believe customer retention is more of a challenge for virtually all businesses, and with revenue down in many industries and customers willing to switch for lower ‘ROIs,’ we have again seen the service bar raised!

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