Best Stores for Customer Service of 2009

  • Some Good News for a Change

    It’s easy to find tales of horrible customer service online. We’ve documented plenty of them. But what about customer service success stories? They deserve to be shared with the world as well. The folks over at the National Retail Federation agree and earlier this month they released their annual list of the Top 10 Retailers for Customer Service. The results are based on a survey that was co-sponsored by American Express and polled more than 8,000 consumers. Here’s the list in alphabetical order of the stores that seem to make customers the happiest, along with some anecdotal supporting evidence from bloggers and commenters around the country. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Amazon.com
  • Amazon.com

    Amazon sells just about everything under the sun. Electronics, sporting goods, health & beauty, books and music. We could go on and on. Here’s one glowing report from a guy who was having trouble with his Kindle, and left a message for customer service: “I checked my phone and saw two missed calls and one voice mail. I listened to it, it was Amazon customer service wanting to help me fix the problem. The gal that called even gave me a direct call back number. Holy c--p I was blown away. I got home and found an email waiting for me from the SAME customer service rep. I responded to the email the next day and she responded twice, each time wanting to talk through the problem on the phone … I figured out that there was a problem with Parallels not creating a needed folder, and made it. Problem solved, I thanked the rep and am still amazed. This is what customer service should be.” Photo Credit: Amazon.com
    Coldwater Creek
  • Coldwater Creek

    Coldwater Creek is a chain of women’s apparel stores with a bustling catalog and e-commerce business to boot. We found an understandably enthusiastic comment from a shopper discussing their return policy. “They offer outstanding customer service. I once ordered a jacket for my mom from them for her birthday. There was a mix-up in shipping, and I received the wrong size. I called their 1-800 number, talked to a real person, got precise directions on how to return the jacket, and received a replacement two days later. My credit card was credited promptly when they received my return, and, since it was their error, they waived all shipping and handling fees. So many places seem to offer terrible customer service anymore, so that, if you should decide to return or exchange, it becomes more of a hassle than it's worth.” Phtoto Credit: Coldwater Creek
    HSN
  • HSN

    HSN, otherwise known as the Home Shopping Network, sells all sorts of items both on their cable channel and online. They maintain a discussion forum where shoppers can comment on just about anything relating to the network and one individual chose to focus on their impressive customer service: “Kudos to customer service for sure. My wife called this morn to let them know an item she bought 5 days ago went down in price and they happily credited her [credit card] the difference. And, as usual, the cust rep was friendly and pleasant.” Photo Credit: HSN
    J.C. Penney's
  • J.C. Penney's

    Founded as a dry goods store, J.C. Penney's has been around for 106 years, which means they’ve had plenty of time to fine tune their customer service protocols. Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor, recently wrote about the store in his blog: “J.C. Penney’s was built on service. The original name for the store that started Penney in the dry goods business was The Golden Rule Store… It isn’t that Penney’s is the cheapest or off-price; they have a hiring and training policy that shows they are truly there to serve.” Photo Credit: J.C. Penney
    Kohl’s
  • Kohl’s

    The department store Kohl’s makes the list, perhaps because they’ve been proactive about using various social media tools to inform and improve their customer service policies, as this blogger observes: “The retailer uses Facebook to bring fans together and listen to customer complaints, concerns and suggestions. Company officials note that customers will complain even if they don’t have an official forum, so it’s good to create a place for venting frustrations that can be easily monitored. That way the company can visibly engage unhappy customers and use their feedback to improve the user experience.” Photo Credit: Kohl's
    Land’s End
  • Land’s End

    Land’s End, which is owned by Sears, sells “traditionally styled clothing for the family, soft luggage and products for the home,” according to their Web site. Bloggers Wei-Shin and Jason are clearly fans: “When I've called Land's End in the past about placing orders, sizes from previous orders, mistakes in orders, or anything along those lines, I've always been very impressed with the level of customer service. That's why I've been such a loyal customer for so long.  They are always nice, alert, competent and with excellent follow-through.” Photo Credit: Land’s End
    L.L. Bean
  • L.L. Bean

    This Mecca of the outdoors is has a fiercely loyal customer base, in part due to the very generous return policy, as noted by blogger Mattyc: “They guarantee 100% product satisfaction and encourage customers to return any products that have been naturally damaged in some way. Here is their actual guarantee stated on their Web site; ‘Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.’ What awesome service, huh!” Photo Credit: L.L. Bean
    Nordstrom
  • Nordstrom

    Nordstrom is a pretty high-end retailer that has droves of devotees. We came across this blogger who writes about corporate leadership and suggests a day trip to Nordstrom for people looking to improve their or their team’s customer service abilities: “A visit to Nordstrom will teach you how to better respond to customers needs so that they will come back to you again and again and will teach you the lessons of: valuing outstanding customer service, bonding with each and every customer, and giving people on the frontline the freedom to make decisions.” Photo Credit: Nordstrom
    Overstock.com
  • Overstock.com

    Overstock.com is one of the many online retailers that have been taking advantage of live chatting tools available to online users. One blogger we came across really liked the process: “While browsing for a new winter cardigan on Overstock.com, I wondered ... what if I want to return this? Then I searched the site for a return policy and found myself at the Holiday Customer Service page. All that I needed to satisfy my customer service needs was found, including a LiveChat option! So, I can talk to a live person while I’m shopping online? In less than 30 seconds, Issac came to my assistance to answer any customer service questions I had.” Photo Credit: Overstock.com
    QVC
  • QVC

    QVC is the second shopping channel featured on the list, and also runs a successful e-commerce site as well. One blogger we came across loves the fact that she can post and read comments about specific products. “QVC allows their customers to post reviews of products on the QVC site. I have seen that they’ll hide reviews for the Today’s Special Value items but other than that, they don’t filter out the negative reviews. I’m a lot more likey (sic.) to buy something online if I can read reviews, especially if it’s clear that the reviews aren’t filtered to show only the good ones. The model works well for Amazon and Zappo's and it’s great to see QVC encouraging their customers to share their experiences.” Speaking of Zappos... Photo Credit: QVC
    Zappo's
  • Zappo's

    This online shoe store was recently purchased by Amazon.com, another top performer in customer service. Many of their customers believe that using Zappos is easier than going to a regular shoe store, but their customer service is almost legendary. Blogger Scott Allison recounts one particularly incredible story: “[An] often mentioned example was when someone called to return a pair of shoes bought for her now-departed husband. The Zappos rep sent a bouquet of flowers to the grieving widow; a story recounted in front of the entire congregation at the funeral. It’s difficult how you could get more personal and emotional than that.” Photo Credit: Zappos.com
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