MSN Money asked Zogby International to conduct an online national survey in which 3,015 randomly chosen respondents rated customer service at 145 companies from 15 industries. The response choices were "excellent," "good," "fair," "poor," "I haven't had an interaction with this company's customer service" and "not sure." The poll was conducted in April.
We chose the companies using several criteria, including those with the largest sales in such customer-facing industries as retail, hotels and restaurants. In addition, we went back to the comments we received from readers when conducting our 2007 and 2008 surveys, to make sure we weren't overlooking companies that were notorious for bad service but not quite large enough to make this year's initial list. One group we added this year were package deliverers, including the U.S. Postal Service, and .
Once Zogby reported its results to us, we eliminated the responses "not familiar" and "not sure" from our tallies to focus attention on the responses from customers who were familiar with companies and expressed opinions about them. From there, we ranked the companies based on the percentage of respondents who rated a company's customer service as "poor."
The final cut for our rankings eliminated companies that didn't have at least 500 respondents meeting the aforementioned criteria. That level of response corresponds to what Zogby considers a sample size with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
To get a sense of what went into survey respondents' answers, we also asked what aspect of a company's customer service was most important to them. The clear winners: a friendly, knowledgeable and readily available staff, which, combined, were the top answers for more than 75% of respondents (see the full list below).
When thinking about a company's customer service, which one of the following features is most important to you?
|Feature||% most important*|
Readily available staff
Flexible policies for return/exchange of merchandise
Service after the sale
None -- product is all that matters
*Percentages do not add up because of rounding / Source: Zogby International