In 2019, Newsweek began its annual collaboration with Statista, an online data and statistics company, to collect information and produce its annual list of top-rated businesses for customer service. Each year, the survey is given to more than 20,000 customers in the United States and provides insight into customer satisfaction levels at brick and mortar shops, online retailers, and service providers across 160 categories.
The resulting list was released in October of 2019, and kicked off 2020 with top-performers celebrating the satisfaction and recognition of a job well done. It’s crazy to think that so much about absolutely everything would change in the months that followed!
The list doesn’t contain many surprises about which companies were winning at customer service, but reviewing that list with the hindsight of the first half of 2020 certainly does! It’s fascinating to see what’s happening to many of them and how they are adapting.
Newsweek’s 2020 Top 10 Ranked Businesses are listed below. We’ve taken a little peek at each of them to see what they were doing right in 2019 and what’s changed for them.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney fans love to explore the high seas with Mickey and pals, and their cruise line is synonymous with creating magical memories for families. They have been praised for the variety of dining options on their ships, offering a “rotating dining” plan on their itinerary so that each night you have a new option. Needless to say, since COVID-19 has waged its war, Disney Cruise Lines and all its cruising magic has been suspended until at least October 2020. The company is losing money by the millions and surely assessing daily how long they can continue to dock their cruise ship fleet while the pandemic persists.
It’s been quite a year for Neiman Marcus! They began with an acknowledgment of excellence in customer service and only months later filed for bankruptcy. The pandemic has not been gentle on retail, and Neiman’s top-notch service and brand recognition didn’t save them from a very hard financial fall. They announced the closure of the limited stores that remain open this year. Retail has been hard hit and forever changed by the pandemic, and it’s likely that most high-end retail will suffer huge losses, as Neiman Marcus has.
It’s no surprise that this luxury lodging brand made the list. In order to please your customers, to provide service where comfort and care is your highest mission, you must go above and beyond. The Ritz has a mission that their guest experience “enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests”. They are still taking reservations and are open, and due to the pandemic, they have adjusted their cancelation policy and put even more focus on cleaning and making sure the common spaces in their hotels are set-up for social distancing.
This financial brokerage firm believes that its advisors stand out by providing a personal touch to investment strategies for clients. Their ranking as a top customer service performer would indicate that they practice what they preach. For a fee, their advisors help clients with money management, and we believe they will be kept busy handling a lot of stressed-out client phone calls this year! Since they have small offices, they may be able to adapt to social distancing standards easily and likely can use technology to communicate with clients and continue to offer support through their individual meetings.
When you visit a Chick-fil-A and one of their ever pleasant team members responds to your request with “my pleasure,” you definitely feel the love! It’s not a surprise that Chick-fil-A is the only restaurant in the top-ten, as a lot of effort goes to training staff to attend to diners’ needs. In fact, owners are required to actually work the front lines with their crew so that they understand the entire process, and ensure that they are well versed and invested in every aspect of the business. Though their in-restaurant dining is not open, they have quickly adapted to the new normal by serving clients through their drive-through and also offer mobile order, payment, and delivery. It’s possible that even without their dining rooms, Chick-fil-A could have a stellar year, even during a pandemic.
If you have ever visited Freeport, Maine, you have seen LL Bean’s flagship store downtown. It’s impossible to miss the throngs of shoppers heading into the store and LL Bean’s prominence in the town. Who would have thought that the creation of a duck hunting boot in 1911 would spawn a new outdoor shopping experience for customers over one hundred years later! Best known for their amazing return policy, they take back items if you aren’t satisfied up to one year after your purchase. They initially survived on a catalog and mail-order business model for decades, and given our current circumstances, it might be a saving grace for the retailer. This summer, Maine isn’t full of vacationers, and as the LL Bean stores are closed due to COVID, they will need their shopping base to go online or pick up the phone to place an order.
National Storage Affiliates
National Storage Affiliates is a self-administered, self-managed real estate investment trust, dedicated to the ownership, operation, and acquisition of self-storage facilities. As of June 30, 2020, NSA currently holds ownership interests in and operates 784 self-storage properties with approximately 49 million rentable square feet. That’s a lot of space! Storage is certainly popular, judging by the number of facilities we see everywhere, but what about this company places it on the top-ranking customer service list? Perhaps it is in their statement that their model creates an opportunity for private operators to enjoy many of the benefits previously available only to their publicly traded colleagues. The need for storage hasn’t changed, and in their recent quarterly report, they state that their business remains stable, and say that “the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has focused our efforts on the health and safety of our employees and customers. While social distancing guidelines have resulted in reduced move-in and move-out activity across our portfolio, our offices remain open for customer service through our no-contact leasing procedures.”
Embassy Suites by Hilton has 245 all-suite hotels in locations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. They set their customer service standard high, and profess that “we’ve figured out how to make everyone happy.” On top of their numerous locations, they offer two-room suites, free made-to-order breakfast, and complimentary drinks in addition to other amenities that set this chain apart. Though not the same luxury offerings as the Ritz, this brand made Newsweek’s list with a similar commitment to “make it right” and ensure the satisfaction of their guests. Since the outbreak of COVID, all Hilton hotels have made accommodations for cancelation policies, cleanliness standards, and an adjustment to their expiration limit for rewards points. They continue to offer reservations and are open to travelers, promising to focus on the health and well-being of their guests and team members.
People in the Southeastern United States love this grocery store chain. They are known for their clean stores and their variety of food. Their motto actually is “Publix: Where Shopping Is a Pleasure”. Judged by their ranking in the Statista study, they are meeting the mark by making grocery shopping faster, easier, and more pleasant for their customers. Like any essential business, they have had to make serious adjustments due to the pandemic. With even more time spent on sanitation, while dealing with limited product availability and planning for both delivery and curb-side pick up that adhere to social distancing, it would seem they will have a busy 2020.
“Celebrating Life, One Event At A Time”. Beau Corp’s insane variety of personalized favors, gifts, and supplies has won the hearts of event planners across the country. Their customers praise their unmatched selection and the attention and care their team puts into customer service. If you can make a couple happy on their special day, you’ve likely won a life-time advocate, after all! The good news for Beau Corp is that they support large and small events, so while large events have stopped, small events may continue to be the norm. The fact that they are web-based and rely on shipping items helps them remain relevant during COVID. The bad news for Beau Corp is that they will have to serve many small events, and wait until large bashes aren’t a thing of the past.
Newsweek’s list has a lot of variety in the businesses that ranked as top performers. Learning about how they changed since earning this recognition and the pandemic became the new norm might provide us with some insight about next year’s list. We can’t wait to see who makes the cut in 2021, and how 2020’s group makes it through the rest of this year. We will be watching closely!
Author Bio: Mahala Evans is proud to be part of WebPunch’s Content Team. She was raised in beautiful Boulder and then lived in Boston, where she learned about hardcore baseball fans and also went to college. Her professional background is in communications and fundraising for nonprofits. She now lives in Colorful Colorado with her husband and their two daughters, where the baseball energy is lacking but the sunshine is almost daily. Her mantra for 2020 is “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”-Arthur Ashe