How Customer Service Stacks Up
Looking for service with a smile the next time you stop for a quick bite to eat? Subway might be the answer, according to Corporate Research International (CRI)'s latest survey "Real People Ratings Best of 2006." The survey asked people to rate 14 different service areas, from fast-food chains to drug stores. About 6,000 respondents between March and April 2006 rated their perception of each business's customer service on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
"The results of this survey have important implications, because they reflect the everyday consumer's perception of each establishment rated," says Mike Mallett, CEO of Corporate Research International. "Companies recognize how crucial customer perception is and these ratings help them understand what their customers truly think." Companies were rated in one of the following 14 categories: convenience stores, department stores, drug stores, electronics stores, fast food restaurants, full service restaurants, home improvement stores, pizza restaurants, shoe stores, sporting goods stores, supermarkets, banks, hotels, and airlines.
BP was the leading convenience store (6.99), edging out Chevron/Texaco and Shell. Nordstrom finished first in the department store category, posting an 8.11 customer service average; Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's followed. Walgreen's took the top drug store category (7.50), followed by CVS/Pharmacy and a tie between Rite Aid and The Pharm. RadioShack brought home top honors in the electronics category with a 7.32, displacing last year's winner Best Buy; Circuit City took third. In fast food, Subway finished first (7.50), trailed by Quiznos and Sonic; in the full-service restaurant category, Olive Garden finished first with an 8.01, then Outback Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse. Ace Hardware topped the home improvement category (7.68), beating out True Value and Lowe's.
Cici's came in first for pizza (7.56)followed by Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza and Papa John's. For shoes, Stride Rite (7.51) led the pack, with Shoe Carnival and Payless ShoeSource close behind. Dick's Sporting Goods (7.18) topped its category, beating Foot Locker and Finish Line. And Publix (7.80) was the best-rated supermarket, surpassing Kroger and Safeway.
Credit unions topped all banks with a 7.99, well ahead of Washington Mutual and Wachovia. Marriott (8.44) won the hotel category, followed by Hyatt and Hilton. Southwest finished first amongst airlines with a 7.49, followed by JetBlue and American.
Brad Holdgreve, vice president of sales and marketing for CRI, says the results highlight the importance of brand image and consumer perception. "This perception could come from advertising, word of mouth, direct experience with the business, and the company's Web site. This shows how important it is for companies to be consistent in their marketing, customer service, operations, and reputation across the board."
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