And the Customer Service Champion Is …

    by Donald Cooper

    In February, BusinessWeek magazine released its third annual list of “Customer Service Champs,” and the top scorer is … How can this be? How can a business that never even meets its customers face to face score higher on customer service than The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Lexus or the legendary Nordstrom department stores?

    The No. 2 company in this ranking is USAA, an online insurance, banking and investments company. Who would have guessed that ordering a book or insurance online could be a better customer service experience than a weekend at The Ritz?

    This is simply goofy. Obviously, somewhere along the line, process, policies and quick response in a transactionally based commodity business have beat out ambience, style and joyful human contact. I don’t get it, but then I’ve never even used a banking machine because I can’t have a conversation with it.

    Newcomer, the quirky Internet-based shoe retailer (ranked No. 7), also has managed to create an online love affair with its customers in a very short time.

    When Internet shopping first started, the big appeal was convenience and price, but now these high-tech interlopers are beating out many traditional service icons on “service.”

    Perhaps this means that there’s a fundamental shift in consumer thinking. Perhaps it means that convenience and quick response, even in the absence of human contact, are the new measure of service excellence in this hugely time-compressed world. We do know that it was’s discount prices and one-stop service model that propelled it to the top spot this year.

    One thing is clear: Every business had better get its processes, its policies, its response time and the value proposition of its products and services to a world-class level in a hurry. The online guys have raised the bar, and you have to meet the challenge, or you will fade away.

    See the complete list of 2009 Customer Service Champs at

Reprinted from The Donald Cooper Corporation Business Management Newsletter, March 2009

Donald Cooper is respected by clients in more than 40 industries throughout the world as a “thought leader” and passionate visionary in the key areas of management, marketing and service excellence. Drawing from his experience as a world-class manufacturer, award-winning retailer, business speaker and coach, he has helped thousands of businesses sell more, manage smarter and grow their bottom lines. To contact Mr. Cooper, call (416) 252-3704, or visit .

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