advertisement
advertisement

Customer Service Survey Places Apple Second To Last

Written by Evan Schuman
March 22nd, 2013

The vaunted customer service chops of Apple Stores may not be what they once were. A new retail survey of 10,000 U.S. shoppers placed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) second-to-last in customer experience, just slightly better than RadioShack (NYSE:RSH). Is Apple a victim of its own reputation? In other words, are its fans’ expectations now so high as to be unreachable, delivering disappointment?

Another surprise: Ace Hardware placed third, beating out customer service king Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) by one notch. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Sam’s Club (NYSE:EMT) were the only retailers to achieve better customer service scores.

Other top customer service performers according to the survey are, in order: PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM), BJ’s Wholesale (NYSE:BJS), Walgreens (NYSE:WAG), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD). Weak performers include: JCPenney (NYSE:JCP), Marshalls (NYSE:TJX), Gamestop (NYSE:GME) and 7-Eleven. (Note: JCPenney has the distinction of being the retailer that suffered the largest drop in customer service ratings from last year to this year. JCPenney dropped 6 percent. The biggest retail gain during the same period? Office Depot (NYSE:ODP), which boosted its score by 11 percent.)

Customer service is one of the hardest things to reliably, consistently, accurately and—here’s the hardest one—meaningfully measure in retail. But this study looked at the behaviors and reactions from 10,000 U.S. consumers, giving some broad hints as to where some retailers are faring well—or not so well.

On the “better at customer service” side, Sam’s Club, Amazon, Costco and Nordstrom were at the top—and there are good reasons for that—along with Ace Hardware. The bottom of the list is more intriguing. RadioShack fared the poorest and Gap (NYSE:GPS), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Walmart (NYSE:WMT), TJMaxx (NYSE:TJX) and Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) were right near the bottom. But that second-lowest ranked chain is the Apple Store, despite its legion of fans and its highly regarded sales associates.

The report, from the Tempkin Group, tried putting some of the chains into historical context by, for example, pointing out that RadioShack is hardly a newcomer to the poor customer service game. “Radio Shack is the lowest-rated retailer for the third consecutive year and 191st overall in 2013. The retailer is also the lowest scoring across all three underlying components, functional, accessible, and emotional,” the report said. Report author Bruce Tempkin (the firm’s managing partner) added: “The retail industry remains one of the better sectors for customer experience, but RadioShack is a real black sheep in the industry.”

Amazon and Sam’s Club were essentially tied for first place. They ranked number one for retail and were tied at fifth for the best company overall, from all sectors. But because of the way Tempkin splits up categories, retail fared much better than that. Several top retailers in grocery topped the list of all companies—for customer service—and were separated into a grocery category. The top company of all types for customer service, according to the survey, is Publix; the second is Trader Joe’s and the third is Aldi.

The report’s methodology was a Web survey of pre-selected groups of shoppers. Tempkin Group only considered answers from shoppers who met “age, gender, income, ethnicity, and geographic” prerequisites that matched U.S. Census data. The 10,000 respondents are how many remained after the filtering.


advertisement

2 Comments | Read Customer Service Survey Places Apple Second To Last

  1. Chad Says:

    I would be curious to see how this survey would report against an NPS score. Does a bad experience in service in a retail setting correlate to the likelihood of someone recommending the company for their product or other services?

  2. Nathan Says:

    I had a professor in college tell all of his students who used Macs to buy at least one share of Apple stock. That way they could contact Investor Relations when Customer Service refused to help. Not sure it’s the solution for everyone, but it certainly worked for him. He had his screen and his hard drive replaced by Apple – at their expense – in the time that I worked with him.

Leave a Reply

Readers, specifically those who want to comment on a story:
Our Comment SPAM system is getting very aggressive these days and has been blocking legitimate comments. If you post a comment and don't see it appear within 2 hours or so, can you please send a heads-up to customer-service@storefrontbacktalk.com? Ideally, please include the time you posted the comment. That will allow us to try and hunt for it. Thanks! P.S. We're working on fixing the system, but we don't want to lose any valuable comments in the meantime.

Newsletters

StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 17,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!
advertisement

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

StorefrontBacktalk
Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.