Amazon tops service charts

05 April 2011

NEW YORK: Amazon, Kohl's and Costco are the companies perceived as providing the best overall levels of service among US consumers.

Research and consulting specialist the Temkin Group surveyed 6,000 American adults, asking them to assess three distinct metrics: the "functional" aspects of doing business, alongside "accessible" elements when interacting with this firm, and the "emotional" response that results from this interaction.

Retailers led the charts on each measure, scoring 79% for ensuring customers can easily achieve their goals and engaging with shoppers, falling to 63% for the positive feelings this engendered.

Online giant Amazon claimed top spot in the rankings, lodging 81.3%, and was one of only 24 enterprises attaining a "good" or "excellent" rating from interviewees.

Amazon currently boasts more than 130m active accounts, and has blazed a trail in fields from user-generated reviews to constructing sophisticated recommendations software.

"We remain heads-down focused on driving a better customer experience through price, selection and convenience," Thomas Szkutak, Amazon's chief financial officer, said on its most recent conference call.

"Our objective is to have great values for customers over all of our selection, over all of our geographies ... It's a reason, [and] certainly one of the drivers, for the growth that we've been able to have over our history."

Despite expanding into areas from books and appliances to groceries and video streaming, Amazon has retained its appeal, Dan Rayburn, a Frost & Sullivan analyst, argued.

"They've branched out into so many different things, and typically when a company does that, they lose sight and they lose focus because they are trying to be everything to everybody," he said.

"But, you know, it's very hard to find something that Amazon is not good at in terms of what they've branched off into."

Kohl's department store chain took second in the Temkin Group's study, hitting 80%, and has placed a particular emphasis on mixing own-label with "exclusive" brands and direct imports.

"We have clearly established ourselves as the leader in providing great value and savings, and are committed to maintain that leadership position going forward," Kevin Mansell, Kohl's chief executive, said.

"From a marketing perspective, our number one customer concern continues to be staying within her budget. As a result, we'll continue to drive home our value message."

Costco was fourth having secured 79%, Lowe's registered 78%, a total equalled by Sam's Club, the warehouse retailer owned by Wal-Mart.

"Our strategy is to meet our members' needs and deliver on the Sam's Club brand promise of simplifying our members' lives by helping them make smart choices," Brian Cornell, the firm's ceo, said earlier this year.

Marriott proved the premier hotel network, yielding 74.1%, some 8% higher than the average recorded by the accommodation industry, and is increasingly leveraging the internet as a source of growth.

"We are eager to sell rooms the way our customers want to buy them," said Arne Sorenson, its chief operating officer. "We are continually investing in it and revising it and using it as a way to not just sell rooms passively and responsively to customers but find a way to reach out to them with offers and other things that we think will continue to drive that channel."

USAA was pre-eminent for both credit cards and insurance, logging 71.8% and 70.8% respectively, a status assumed by Regions among banks, posting 72.6%.

Apple was named the best computer brand, albeit with a relatively modest 59%, and Cox Communications won the internet service competition, on 62.1%, and the TV services equivalent, receiving 58.8%.

Data sourced from the Tekmins Group, USA Today, NPR, Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff