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Facebook is the Comeback Kid of Customer Service in 2015

Just three years ago Facebook rated dead last among social media companies in the American Customer Satisfaction Index with a score of 61 out of a possible 100. The 2015 rankings released this week by ACSI, however, had the social network showing the biggest improvement among 300 companies with a 12% rise to a 75. Excellence in targeting and personalization made the difference, says ACSI’s managing director.

“Facebook is doing customer service the right way. One of the right ways you do it in social media is with privacy, and another is in how you target,” says David VanAmburg, whose company rates customer satisfaction in 43 industries based on interviews with some 70,000 customers. “Are you able to push out a greater volume of ads in a way consumers are receptive to because you know the things they’re interested in?”

Zuckerberg & Co. has lots of room for improvement. Its 75 places it in the middle of a customer service pack where leading companies score well into the 80s. To its credit, Facebook rallied in a year when 59% of individual companies saw customer ratings decline and 70% of industries experienced dips in average scores. Internet-based investment services, personal care products, telephone services, and search engines all registered decreases of 5% or more.

The poor ratings reflect a fast-changing business environment that has companies struggling to adopt new technologies, while those same technologies make customers ever more demanding. “Certainly, when all the new tools and processes companies roll out work, it’s wonderful. But when they don’t, it’s disappointing,” VanAmburg observes. “If a telecom says it has the fastest Internet speed in the country but customers think they don’t, that’s a problem. When you see customer service ratings taking a dip like this, there’s cause for concern.”

Industries showing the greatest improvement in rankings over 2014 were Internet retail, social media, and airlines. “For Internet retail, this was a comeback from a hiccup of a few years ago when there were big shipping delays during the holidays. All the retailers were saying, ‘Order by December 22nd and you’ll still get it by Christmas,’” VanAmburg says.

Taking advantage of smartphone technology that alerts travelers to gate and departure changes, as well as added services and amenities, helped airlines raise their customer service profiles this year. It’s a welcome improvement for an industry that faces some of the most daunting challenges in this area. “Will airlines ever rate an 80 in our study? I don’t know,” VanAmburg says.

Airlines averaged a score of 71, keeping the industry out of the bottom five, all of which posted Index scores in the the 60s: Internet service providers, subscription TV services, the U.S. Postal Service, fixed-line telephone service, and health insurance.

The 10 best companies for customer service in 2015 were:

1. Amazon

2. Chick-fil-A

3. Nordstrom

4. Trader Joe’s

5. Apple

6. Costco

7. Lexus (Toyota)

8. Acura (Honda)

9. Chipotle

10. L Brands

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