In the faltering economy, the importance of customer service has reached new highs, overtaking even price as a purchase determinant, according to a J.D. Power report.
Many businesses cut costs and turned to automation technologies to handle customer needs, which had the effect of raising the importance of people in the service experience.
"While value is important, consumers want more than simply the lowest price or a product that is just good enough,” said Gina Pingitore, chief research officer at J.D. Power and Associates. “They expect a superior product that is delivered in a compelling presentation, through fast and easy-to-understand processes that are supported by responsive and concerned people. In addition, the price must be perceived as fair and competitive."
The report, "Beyond Satisfaction: J.D. Power 2012 Customer Service Champions--Brands That Deliver Service Excellence to Maximize Business Results," also identifies 50 brands as J.D. Power 2012 Customer Service Champions, based on customer feedback attesting to their service excellence.
Brands that receive J.D. Power Customer Service Champion designation are among the top 5% percent of more than 800 evaluated brands, based on their performance in five key areas: People, presentation, price, process and product. The brands not only excel within their respective industries, but also stand out when evaluated across multiple industries.
These companies tend to consistently employ certain key practices, including being consistent in branding and delivery of the service experience, particularly across various channels and customer touchpoints.
They also tend to hire the right people and empower them with the best processes, as well as the ability and authority to make judgment calls to resolve issues on behalf of their customers. Finally, these companies understand customer differences to offer the right products through the right channels in ways that truly resonate with them, according to the report. The 50 brands are: