The Best and Worst Companies for Customer Service in 2017

When interacting with a business, it always amazes me how much the experience varies—from indifference to great customer support. It seems obvious that generating goodwill through a positive interaction just makes good business sense. We're more likely to recommend and do more business with the companies that treat us well. We want to find companies that result in a positive experience, and avoid those that don't.

But we all know that our experiences vary widely among the companies we interact with. Contrast the service and support we get from Nordstrom and Apple with that from Comcast or Time Warner.

While we have our own opinions based on our individual experiences, how do those experiences compare with those of others? A new survey on customer experience from the Temkin Group quantifies just how well companies are perceived by their customers.

The Temkin Group, which specializes in measuring and building customer experience, asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate their recent interactions with 331 companies across 20 industries, and then evaluated their experiences in three categories: success, effort, and emotion.

Image Courtesy of Temkin Group

The group defined "success" as the degree to which customers accomplished their goals, "effort" as the difficulty or ease in accomplishing those goals, and "emotion" as how the interaction made the customers feel. The study created a numerical score based on these three factors that varied from 0 to 100 percent.

Among all the companies in the survey, Publix, Chick-fil-A, and H-E-B, a Texas grocery chain, earned the highest overall ratings at 84, 83, and 83 respectively, while Health Net, Blue Shield of California, and Comcast received the lowest scores at 42, 47, and 47.

Examining by category, among airlines Southwest came out on top (73), while Spirit Airlines ranked at the bottom (50).

In the automobile category, Lexus was number one at 77, while Mazda was worst for customer satisfaction at 61. But surprisingly, Kia and Chevy were at spots two and three at 74 and 73 respectively, while BMW and Audi were well below average at 64 and 66. Note that all of these ratings refer to the customer interaction, not to the products.

Amazon and Apple led the computers and tablet category with ratings of 74 and 68, while Toshiba and Asus were at the bottom with scores of 58 and 61. How did credit card companies rate for customer experience? Discover Card at 78 and American Express and USAA at 73 were the highest rated, while Wells Fargo and Capital One offered the worst customer experience among card issuers at 64 and 66.

Among hotels and motels, customers loved their experience with Marriott Courtyards at 77 and disliked the service from Days Inn, Airbnb, and Motel 6 at 54, 56, and 57. In the software category, Apple topped the list once again, tied with Sony at 70, while Intuit and Adobe were at the bottom at 60 and 62. Microsoft was in the middle of the pack at 66.