Customer Service: Hall of Shame or Hall of Fame?

Which hall are you in?

Have you seen the latest 2014 survey on customer service?

The results were reported in a recent article on the “24/7 Wall St.” website1. Here are the 10 worst companies:

10. Citigroup (15% “poor” ratings for banking and for credit cards)

9. Wells Fargo (15% “poor” for banking, 16% for credit cards)

8. AT&T (18% “poor”)

7. AOL (18% “poor”)

6. Time Warner Cable (20% “poor”)

5. DirecTV (20% “poor”)

4. Dish Network (20% “poor”)

3. Sprint (21% “poor”)

2. Comcast (25% “poor”)

Who was No. 1?

Bank of America (25% “poor” for banking, 22% “poor” for credit cards)

No comment, besides the fact that I’m surprised that airline companies are not on that list.  They have a habit of treating customers in the worst ways possible, for ever increasing prices.

And here are the top 10 best companies for customer service in 2014:

10. Apple (36% "excellent")

9. Hewlett-Packard (36% "excellent")

8. Sony (37% "excellent")

7. UPS (37% "excellent")

6. Trader Joe’s (37% "excellent")

5. American Express (38% "excellent")

4. Chick-fil-A (39% "excellent")

3. Marriott International (40% "excellent")

2. Hilton Worldwide (41% "excellent")

Who was rated the best? (58% "excellent")

Here is what Micah Solomon, a customer service consultant, had to say2 about some of the best businesses in the survey:

“Nobody knows more about being hospitable than the hospitality industry.  When you are selling a rectangular room, you have to do everything you can to move far out of the commodity zone through service, so that is what great hospitality companies concentrate on.”

As an aside, this comment reminds me that a colleague liked hiring receptionists who had worked at hotel. His reasoning: “They know how to welcome people, they tend to be nice to clients, and they don’t have a problem asking for money.” In other words, they are customer-focused.

The fact that Amazon is No. 1 is no surprise. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently explained3 that “if you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something.  Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”  And he adds: “Our No. 1 mission is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

This obsession seems to be paying off…

How do these observations apply to the veterinary world?

Let’s paraphrase and translate this into our practices: “When you are “selling” (I know most readers will dislike this word, but please read on), when you are “selling” a vaccine, or flea medication, or a dental prophy, you have to do everything you can to move far out of the commodity zone through service, so that is what great veterinary clinics concentrate on.”

In other words, why is your vaccine better than the one at your friendly competitor?

How is your flea medication better than at the clinic (or the pet store) down the street?

Why is your dental prophy any better than the one at the other hospitals in town?

Assuming we are all up-to-speed on the medical aspects, if we’re honest with ourselves, the main differentiating factor is the quality of our customer service. It’s our ability to wow clients.  It’s our capacity at making them feel like they and their pets are the very reason we showed up for work today.

Because they are.


  1., July 18, 2014. Research survey group Zogby Analytics polled 2,500 adults about the quality of customer service at 150 American companies.  Customer service could be rated as "excellent," "good," "fair" or "poor."
  2. Interview by “24/7 Wall St.”
  3. Success Magazine, March 2014.

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