American Marketer


Less than 5pc of companies excel at delivering customer service excellence: study

February 23, 2011

The Jaguar XJ was heavily promoted via SMS messaging


A study by J.D. Power and Associates found that luxury brands such as Jaguar, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Mercedes-Benz and The Ritz-Carlton are most widely known for their excellent customer service.

The brands in the Top 40 Customer Service study that truly excelled at customer service were the ones that use people, presentation, process, product and price in their marketing strategies in the most effective ways. More than 800 brands were studied.

“As a boutique luxury brand, Jaguar has the opportunity to treat every customer with the highest level of customer care,” said Stuart Schorr, vice president of communications and public affairs at Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC, Mahwah, NJ. “So, our dealers and our company focus on building a successful relationship from the sales process, to the financing to the servicing of the vehicle.

“Luxury consumers in America expect their luxury cars to resonate with them on an emotional level, in terms of design and performance, as well as a rationale level in terms of resale value and customer service,” he said. “Jaguar is renowned for creating emotionally appealing vehicles.

“Customer service is our No. 1 priority.”

Superb service

Companies that have a business strategy of service excellence are typically the ones that had the strongest chance of overcoming the economic hardships of the past few years.

Brands that need to recognize that delivering high-quality service is a powerful differentiator in the face of changing market conditions.

Unprecedented commoditization has occurred in many industries due to increased automation, standardization and globalization, which makes it even more difficult for brands to maintain differentiation based on price alone.

This highlights the importance of providing superior service, according to J.D. Power.

“It is hard to be a true customer service champion,” said Chance Parker, vice president of GSEI operations in the global services and emerging industries division of J.D. Power and Associates, Westlake Village, CA. “Less than 5 percent of more than 800 companies we looked at really excel at delivering service excellence.

“And in service industries, we don’t see a trend toward overall improvement like we do in product industries,” he said. “In fact, the gap between good and bad has gotten wider over the past decade.”

Service champion how-to tips

Luxury brands, above all others, know the value of customer service.

If their customers are expected to pay a premium for their products, then luxury brands should provide fantastic and personal service to make them feel special about themselves and about the brand.

In the auto industry, marketers no longer just have to differentiate themselves on the product, and must offer perks to pique customers’ interest.

For example, Jaguar offers its customers Jaguar Platinum Coverage with every vehicle.

This gives owners increased vehicle warranty coverage and a maintenance plan, including no-cost replacement of select wear and tear components and 24/7 roadside assistance, according to Jaguar’s Mr. Schorr.

In the hotel industry, the “product” itself is often the service that the staff provides, and both Ritz-Carlton and

Four Seasons take great care to make sure that their people deliver and have processes in place to do so, JD’s Mr. Parker said.

The hotel and automotive industries were the most widely represented in the top 40 customer service.

Mr. Parker said that well-known fashion retailers were included in the study, but did not excel broadly enough across the main customer service principals to make the list.

“It has become increasingly difficult to differentiate with your product, even at the luxury end of the market,” Mr. Parker said. “Brands really have no choice but to excel across the board.

“The most common element for these brands is the performance of their people and their focus on how the present themselves through their facilities, their Web sites and often through their marketing, as well,” he said.