In 2023, customer service will remain a corporate priority as organizations incorporate new tech and approaches to improve service and keep customers happy.
2023 is shaping up to be a less than phenomenal year for customer service and customer experience. Large-scale industry layoffs in the tens of thousands by companies like Google, Microsoft, and more signal a divestment from great customer service and experience.
The uncertainty of the market and the impact of ongoing layoffs makes the list of brands with the best customer service for 2023 a challenging one to tackle.
Layoffs often come in waves, with companies making cuts based not necessarily on their own financial standing, but because others are making cuts.
In other words, layoffs are “contagious” across industries, says Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in an interview published by Stanford News.
“The logic driving this – which doesn’t sound like very sensible logic because it’s not – is people say, ‘Everybody else is doing it, why aren’t we?’”
“Apparently, many organizations will trade off a worse customer experience for reduced staffing costs, not taking into account the well-established finding that it’s typically much more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep existing ones happy.”
And it isn’t just the technology industry where we see layoffs happening. Retailers, too, are laying employees off, “even as final demand remains uncertain,” says Pfeffer.
Brands with the best customer service in 2023
In 2020, we saw brands embrace customer service as a strategic initiative in the pandemic, especially as so many services had to move online.
This continued into 2021, but in 2022, customer service scores dropped, on average. After all, the pandemic was waning, demand for online services declined, and an uncertain economic future loomed.
How will we fare in 2023?
According to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), these are the top 15 brands with the best customer service and customer experience in 2023:
- Trader Joe’s, Customer Service Score: 85
- Lexus (Toyota), Customer Service Score: 84
- Chick-fil-A, Customer Service Score: 83
- Clorox, Customer Service Score: 83
- Hershey’s, Customer Service Score: 83
- New York Life, Customer Service Score: 83
- Procter & Gamble, Customer Service Score: 83
- Quaker (Pepsico), Customer Service Score: 83
- Samsung, Customer Service Score: 83
- Acura (Honda), Customer Service Score: 82
- Apple, Customer Service Score: 82
- Audi (Volkswagen), Customer Service Score: 82
- Coca-Cola, Customer Service Score: 82
- Etsy, Customer Service Score: 82
- H-E-B, Customer Service Score: 82
- Infiniti (Nissan), Customer Service Score: 82
- New Balance, Customer Service Score: 82
These companies are great beacons for others to emulate, but beware – in an economy with contagious layoffs and an increasingly uncertain economic outlook (thanks in large part to the layoffs themselves), this list could change quickly as brands reevaluate their spend, particularly when it comes to headcount.
A different take: Top brands for customer service
Newsweek’s annual list of companies that excel at service that’s done in partnership with Statista is very different from ACSI’s, reflecting the complexity of customer experience, the range of personal preferences, and of course methodology.
Interestingly, insurance companies dominate their list of the top 15 best brands for customer service in 2023:
- The Hartford: Customer Service score – 9.96 out of 10
- Nobu: Customer Service Score – 9.95 out of 10
- American Fidelity: Customer Service Score – 9.95 out of 10
- Gerber Life: Customer Service Score – 9.95 out of 10
- USAA: Customer Service Score – 9.91 out of 10
- Nationwide: Customer Service Score – 9.76 out of 10
- Hoka: Customer Service Score – 9.64 out of 10
- Rosewood Hotels: Customer Service Score – 9.6 out of 10
- Valentino: Customer Service Score – 9.59 out of 10
- SXSW Music Festival: Customer Service Score – 9.58 out of 10
- Mandarin Oriental: Customer Service Score – 9.56 out of 10
- Guardian: Customer Service Score – 9.54 out of 10
- Givenchy: Customer Service Score – 9.53 out of 10
- NextSeed: Customer Service Score – 9.53 out of 10
- zZounds: Customer Service Score – 9.52 out of 10
CX trends in 2023 revolve around elevating the role of service for deeper connections with customers and better business outcomes.
What is ASCI, and how does it measure customer satisfaction?
The American Customer Satisfaction Index is a national, cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the U.S. economy.
Developed at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, it uses a stable, multivariable modeling system for measurement that runs on a scale of 1-100, making possible extensive time-series analyses of customer experience and customer service data.
Moreover, the ASCI puts together a cause-and-effect model that measures the drives of outcomes or customer satisfaction, helping organizations focus on customer satisfaction to improve their overall business.
The ASCI has found that companies with high levels of customer satisfaction have increased levels of consumer spend and stock returns that beat the market. In general, higher levels of customer satisfaction can predict business performance.
Evaluating the best customer service brands
Newsweek’s study, which surveyed 30,000 consumers in the US, evaluates retailers and service providers across 166 categories.
The survey assesses customer service in five core categories:
- Quality of communication: measures whether was the service interaction (email, phone or in-person) was friendly or polite
- Professional competence: assesses the quality of information provided
- Range of services: measures if a customer’s expectations and requirements were met
- Customer focus: measures whether the customer feels acknowledged
- Accessibility: evaluates availability of service
Supermarkets, cars, and chocolate – oh my
As inflation creeps up and becomes more of a strain on U.S. households, it’s interesting to see supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and H-E-B (the major supermarket chain in Texas), land on this year’s best customer service list.
Trader’s Joes, though, is known for its lower-cost items, whereas H-E-B, also known for their lower prices, is beloved in Texas for the company’s donations and overall financial aid to their local communities.
Cars are another category that shows up frequently in this list. Inflation has touched on gas prices, too, and many of the automobile companies on this list have well-priced, eco-friendly models that help save on gas prices. Moreover, topping the list in the automobile category are two Toyota and Honda models, both vehicles known for their long-life and strong resale value.
To top the list this year, companies need to meet consumers where they are: which is cash-strapped and looking for more savings in the goods they purchase.
Unless, of course, you are a brand that brings a bit of joy, like Hershey’s, landing at No. 5 on the list and providing chocolate delicacies in all forms to consumers. Are consumers returning to the simpler things, and joys, of life?
"Hey Siri, find cheap food." Consumer spending is weakening as sky-high inflation forces shoppers to tighten their belts. How can brands keep customers?
Notable no-shows when it comes to the best customer service in 2023
It’s worth noting that brands at the center of controversy are missing from either list of top 15 customer service brands.
For example, social media giant Twitter. The company was bought out by Elon Musk, who fired a larger portion of the company, and continues to make many changes to the functionality of Twitter, rolling several features out, only to pull some of them back mere hours or days later.
Both Amazon and Robinhood have struggled over the last year, too. Amazon, beloved for its speedy and easy shopping and shipping, continues to see a zeitgeist assemble around an anti-Amazon approach, as folks go back to shopping in-store, and at smaller, local businesses.
Robinhood, on the other hand, has helped millions invest in individual stocks and build nest eggs without the need for advisors or their fees. But lawsuits, no-trading periods, and the bankruptcy of similar products have many consumers concerned about the company’s future, and the money they’ve put into it.
Customer service at a crossroads
We don’t know where this year is headed, but one thing is certain: companies are cleaning house, laying employees off, and changing the status quo of the last two years.
How those changes affect consumer perception and actual customer experience is yet to be seen.
But count on this: Not everyone will think any of it is all good or all bad, and those companies willing to make the biggest bets may just see the biggest support – or the biggest criticism – because of it. Likely, they’ll see both.