The Best and Worst Companies for Customer Experience

Bottom line, marketers know great customer experiences are good for business, and the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings report shows consumers rank several grocers and fast food chains as the best providers of overall excellent customer experiences. The report, based on a survey of 10,000 consumers in the U.S., evaluates 268 companies across 19 industries— including everything from healthcare and cable service to airlines and hotel chains. Rising above the pack are grocer H.E.B. (88%), Trader Joe’s (84%), Chick-fil-A (83%), Publix (83%), and Aldi (82%), each rated “excellent” by customers.

“For grocers, customer experience is simpler,” says Bruce Temkin, managing partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm. “Customer experience is delivering on your brand’s promises. With grocers and fast food chains, that’s easier to fulfill than say tech, cable, and healthcare industries that require more interaction with the customer.”

Healthcare providers proved sickly for customer experience, possibly bogged down by early operational problems in marketing new health plans mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The bottom five organizations in Temkin’s survey were Coventry Health (41%), Empire BlueCross BlueShield (42%), Highmark (44%), Medicaid (45%), and wireless carrier US Cellular (46%), each rated “very poor” by consumers.


The survey asked consumers to consider three elements when rating each business on customer experience—functional (can customers do what they want to do), accessible (how easy it is to work with the company), and emotional (how do consumers feel about their interactions). “For marketers, the emotional component is the most important,” Temkin explains. “The emotional piece is the one that’s highly related to brand advocates—who don’t just like your brand, but love your brand.”

Overall, 37% of companies earned “good” or “excellent” ratings, while 25% are rated as “poor” or “very poor.” Compared to last year, the number companies with at least a “good” rating remained about the same, although that number has grown by more than 20% since the first report in 2011.

 On average, grocery store chains, fast food chains, parcel delivery services, retailers, and banks earned “good” ratings. In contrast, consumers gave TV service, health plan, Internet service, and rental car companies “poor” ratings. Temkin says a look at the customer’s journey with the brand will help marketers make changes and rev up what consumers love. “Marketers need to know something about their customers’ lives and what elements brought consumers to that brand.” He says then they’ll be able to respond to customer needs, wants, and expectations.

Ultimately, feedback is the main way for marketers to know whether customer experience is getting better or worse, adds Temkin. He says newer consumers are great to gauge for a sense of the present perception of the customer experience. “New customers don’t feel as tied to the brand. They’re often lucid with feedback. Longtime customers have opinions that are harder to change—good or bad. So if marketers are looking for an immediate sense of customer experience, asking newer customers can be effective.”

More importantly, marketers should know that building the capabilities to please customers doesn’t happen overnight. Listening to consumers and taking action, however, can make all the difference.

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