What can we learn from BusinessWeek's service champs?

Not surprisingly, Alfred's Tailoring did not make BusinessWeek's latest list of their 'Top 50 Customer Service Champs'. To be fair, they didn't quite fit BusinessWeek's criteria, but I don't think they'd make the list even if they did.

My wife dropped off a suit last week for tailoring. She needed the suit no later than Saturday, so the tailor said the suit would be ready by noon if my wife paid cash up front. When my wife arrived on Saturday at 12:30, the suit wasn't ready. The response from the tailor was, "I've been really busy!" I guess we'll be too busy to go back.

BusinessWeek Top 50 Customer Service Champs
BusinessWeek has just come out with their list of top customer service companies. The list highlights a few organizations that are truly excellent while raising quite a few questions at the same time.

Dominant Industries
Three business categories account for more than 50% of the companies on the list. Auto manufacturers, hotels, and financial service companies captured 26 of the 50 spots. There were no tailors, though clothing retailers captured four places. See the entire list here.

Unanswered Questions
BusinessWeek's ranking system does raise a few questions. Part of their methodology was rating each company on 'people' and 'process'. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a real explanation for what 'people' or 'process' really means to them. If anyone could enlighten me, I'd be grateful.

Another question is how some of these companies truly made the Top 50 list. For example, BusinessWeek relied extensively on data provided by J.D. Power. Fairmont Hotels was ranked #3 on BusinessWeek's list, but only received a 3 out of 5 rating for overall satisfaction from J.D. Power. Huh?? By contrast, Ritz Carlton, #12 on the list, received a 5 out of 5 rating from J.D. Power. Several other companies on the Top 50 list received relatively poor 'people' ratings, such as B's and C's. Hardly the stuff of 'Customer Service Champions'.

Lessons Learned
These types of rankings are great discussion topics, but customers will ultimately decide who the champs are, and they will eventually vote with their wallets. The weighting of the list suggests that customers have high expectations for certain industries, so companies in those lines of work have to be constantly on their toes. My wife's recent experience also reminds me that the industries we don't expect much from (like tailors and dry cleaners) can go a long way by just being polite and responsive.