At SpareFoot, our Customer Experience Team and Client Relations Team strive to deliver top-rate customer service. The customer group helps the people who are paying money to rent self-storage units, and the client group helps the people who are making money by renting out self-storage units that they own or operate. Through our rigorous hiring process, we recruit the best of the best to assist our customers and clients by phone and by email.
Josh Lipton, who leads our Customer Experience Team, said he and his teammates aim to provide a customer service experience that’s different from—and better than—what you might expect.
“Our team of creative, enthusiastic, motivated and slightly strange people are storage experts dedicated to helping you through whatever circumstances you may be facing,” Lipton said. “From the excitement of a new home to the challenge of dealing with an unexpected situation and everything in between, we are there to work with you to find the best possible solution for your unique storage needs. Our success is only measured by your success with SpareFoot.”
In a recent post on this blog, this is how Barry Finder, who leads our Client Relations Team, explained his customer service philosophy:
“Every time I have to call a company, I’m severely dissatisfied about having to wait, being put on hold or just getting bad service. Email is even worse. My goal, when building the SpareFoot support experience, is for our clients to never encounter those things.”
The philosophy at SpareFoot mirrors philosophies at other companies. In the interest of celebrating excellent customer service, we’ve compiled a list of nine companies known for going the extra mile for the folks who use their products and services. (Keep in mind, though, that people do run into problems with even the cream of the customer service crop.) Here’s our list, in alphabetical order.
What It Does: Sells books, electronics and other merchandise online
Thumbs-Up: “Amazon provides a no-questions-asked returns and refunds process, even in cases where the product is sold by another merchant through Amazon,” according to Intuit’s blog. “That means customers don’t ever have to suffer from buyers’ remorse … .”
Bottom Line: “Amazon gets your stuff to you faster than the predicted delivery date,” according to a Grasshopper.com article. “The company coordinates its in-house managed deliveries in ways that take advantage of local distributors, even freelance couriers, and that means packages often move more quickly than suggested by its online delivery information.”
What It Does: Sells auto, home and life insurance
Thumbs-Up: Auto and home insurance policyholders surveyed by J.D. Power & Associates give Amica extremely high marks in several categories, such as day-to-day interactions, billing and payment, and claims.
Bottom Line: “We believe hiring the right people and empowering them are at the foundation of service excellence,” Robert DiMuccio, chairman, president and CEO of Amica, said in a news release. “Amica is fortunate to have the right people to believe in and carry on our long tradition of putting customers first.”
What It Does: Sells computers, smartphones and other electronics
Thumbs-Up: “The company’s sleek devices and user-friendly software aren’t its only innovations. Appointments at Apple’s ‘Genius Bars’ and its roving in-store checkout clerks are just two ways the company has pioneered new approaches to customer service,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Bottom Line: “The reason that a lot of these (computer) companies don’t copy Apple’s customer service is they don’t realize how important it is … . They look at it as a cost rather than a return-on-investment item,” Ira Kalb, assistant professor of clinical marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business, told CNET.com.
What It Does: Operates an airline
Thumbs-Up: On TripAdvisor.com, travelers rate JetBlue extremely well in all eight categories listed: value, check-in experience, punctuality, baggage handling, in-flight service, in-flight amenities and fairness of fees. For nine years in a row, travelers questioned by J.D. Power & Associates have ranked JetBlue first for customer satisfaction among low-cost airlines in North America.
Bottom Line: “Somehow, the management of JetBlue has figured out how to build a positive, friendly, respectful way of interacting with customers into the DNA of their company,” Erika Andersen, founding partner of consulting and training firm Proteus International, wrote on Forbes.com. “I suspect they hire for it, train to it, and reward it. And I also suspect that JetBlue employees are treated pretty well themselves (in my experience, if you treat employees badly, they’ll treat customers badly).
What It Does: Runs a chain of high-end department stores
Thumbs-Up: Nordstrom’s legendary customer service includes a liberal return policy, thank-you cards, home deliveries, personal appointments and phone calls alerting customers about upcoming sales, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal in Florida.
Bottom Line: “They’re not as interested in making money as they are in making their customers happy,” customer service expert Shep Hyken told the Jacksonville Business Journal.
What It Does: Operates an airline
Thumbs-Up: Southwest ranked first in the customer service category of the 2013 Airline Quality Rating report, compiled by Purdue University and Wichita State University. Southwest consistently earns the lowest customer complaint rate in the airline industry, the report says. “Southwest employees are taught from day one to treat customers like friends and family,” Examiner.com reported. “That means customers are referred to by first names whenever possible. They are also sent birthday cards and invited to events sponsored by the airline.”
Bottom Line: “We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes (on schedule, with personality and perks along the way),” Southwest says on its website.
What It Does: Runs a chain of grocery stores
Thumbs-Up: In a 2013 study by consumer research firm Market Force Information, shoppers rated Trader Joe’s as their favorite grocery chain in North America. “Ask a Trader Joe’s employee about a product and he will practically sprint down the aisle, grab a bag of whatever you had questions about and join you in a taste test. And returns? No questions asked, even if the goods have been opened and you simply didn’t like the product,” according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article.
Bottom Line: “With a neighborhood-store feel, the national chain is known for its customer-centric operations and a revolving inventory of products that carry the Trader Joe’s brand name,” Market Force Information said.
What It Does: Sells insurance and provides financial services to military members, retired military members and their families
Thumbs-Up: Forrester Research’s 2013 Customer Experience Index put USAA at the top spot in all three categories where it was evaluated: banking, credit cards and insurance. Bloomberg Businessweek noted that USAA heavily discounts members’ auto insurance while they’re serving overseas and was the first bank to introduce smartphone deposits.
Bottom Line: “Our employees are passionate about our mission to facilitate the financial security of our members—the men and women of the military and their families,” Wayne Peacock, executive vice president of member experience at USAA, said in a news release. “That passion is what fuels our focus on delivering an exceptional member experience by listening to our members and constantly innovating to meet their needs.”
What It Does: Sells shoes and other apparel online
Thumbs-Up: “Zappos … is legendary for its employee culture and customer service. Paying employees to quit; offering customers free shipping both ways and a year to make returns; and hiring 24/7 phone reps who are as courteous, kind, and upbeat as Four Seasons concierges are all part of the Zappos formula,” Anthony Tjan, CEO of venture capital firm Cue Ball, wrote on the Harvard Business Review blog.
Bottom Line: “We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW,” Zappos says on its website. “Our philosophy at Zappos is to WOW with service and experience, not with anything that relates directly to monetary compensation (for example, we don’t offer blanket discounts or promotions to customers).”