L.L. Bean took the top spot on Prosper Analytics' 2015 Customer Service Champions list, an annual ranking of customer service released Tuesday. Amazon and Nordstrom came in second and third place, respectively.
Following the top three are, in order, Kohl’s, Lands’ End, REI, Zappos.com, J.C. Penney, QVC, and Macy’s. The results are based on a write-in survey of more than 6,000 U.S. consumers and are weighted by annual revenues and fan base, according to Prosper Insights & Analytics analyst Pam Goodfellow, writing in Forbes.
The top scorers have a few things in common, including liberal return policies. Amazon’s high rating accrues from its Prime benefit perks, while others at the top of the list score with high ratings for in-store associates and, in some cases, free delivery and returns.
There are few surprises here—L.L. Bean and Nordstrom have long rated high any time anyone crunches numbers on customer service. Both are longstanding retailers that have made guarantees on product quality that sometimes entails accepting returned merchandise that was purchased years before. And both L.L. Bean and Nordstrom have long offered free shipping and free returns, even before Amazon’s now dominant free two-day shipping for Prime members had much traction.
While Amazon is famous for its own excellent customer service, that has occurred largely over the phone and by email. Its machine learning, which bases product suggestions on customer searches and purchases, and ease of payment likely go far as well. For L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, and Kohl’s, in-store associates greatly boost their relationships with customers, underscoring how important humans can be to retailers.
And Goodfellow noted what many experts have told Retail Dive: Nordstrom's customer service sets it apart from other struggling department store retailers.
“Is any explanation necessary here?” writes Goodfellow of Nordstrom’s third-place rank. “Nordstrom’s customer service is literally textbook; the department store has largely avoided the vicious cycle of promotional discounting by going above and beyond for its customers, creating an experience that attracts shoppers from multiple generations.”