New survey reveals U.S. cities that rank as “top dog” in customer service

24 September, 2007


Grass Roots has launched its U.S. measurement division (Grass Roots Performance Measurement LLC), with a customer service survey, popular and well known in Europe as “Are You Being Served?” The ten city survey offers fresh insight into customer service levels and the experience that customers are getting from a range of stores and other service providers. It also reveals that sometimes this experience does not always live up to expectations.

The U.S. survey covered cities across the nation including: Phoenix, Dallas, Kansas City, Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Boston and New York. Customer service and experience was tested in the following sectors: real estate, furniture stores, fast-food, department stores, bars, electronics retailers, mobile phone retailers, home improvement retailers, coffee shops, banks, gas stations drug stores and grocery stores.

“The US service experience is still one of the highest in the world” says Jane Edwards-Hall, General Manager of Grass Roots Performance Measurement in the U.S.A. “What did surprise us was the wide variation of standards in different cities in the US – some of our cities have a lot of catching up to do!”

Some key findings for each of the cities:

  • The Phoenix Suns are not the only things that shine in Phoenix; this city ranks best for all-around customer service with an impressive 85 percent score. Interested in moving to the area now that you know what great service you will get? The real estate industry scored a 99 percent approval rating here!
  • Banking is booming in Boston in terms of how they treat their clients, ranking first among all the cities surveyed in this sector.
  • Want stellar service when you buy a hamburger? Fast-food in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas and Phoenix all scored a delicious 80 percent or above.
  • And if you ever feel that fast-food is just trying to get you in and out quickly then take note that this sector was the best surveyed when it came to spotting opportunities to push order revisions and upgrading customer choices suggesting a more personal attention to service!
  • When the wind is blowing in the windy city the locals grab a hot cup of Joe; Chicagoland blew the other cities out of the water when it comes to friendly and efficient service in coffee shops.
  • Kansas City doesn’t need improvement when it comes to home improvement retailing, scoring a 93 percent ranking in furniture and the home improvement retail sectors.
  • And if you want to know the best place to get a cocktail in the country? Well, it's at the Cheesecake Factory in Phoenix - a near-perfect cocktail hour!
  • When it’s not so sunny in the sunshine state, you may want to stay indoors and indulge in a flat screen television. Miami ranked as the top city in customer service for electronics retailing with a 92 percent ranking.
What this survey proves is the lack of consistency in service delivery. Our shoppers and guests were not so well served when it came to the following:

  • With the lowest ranking in gas stations, New York City, a place filled with full-service gas stations, doesn’t offer much more than gas in its stations.
  • If you need a prescription filled ASAP, Los Angeles is not the city you want to be in with an upsetting 49 percent service ranking.
  • And buying groceries in Miami can be confusing! The best and the worst service was experienced here with one outlet only scoring a miserable 13% while another received a score of over 90!
Methodology

Grass Roots has been conducting such surveys for nearly three decades and, like many US companies, uses mystery shoppers and mystery guests to help build the picture of service standards.

Grass Roots conducted a nationwide mystery shopping survey during July and August 2007 to understand general service levels and customer experiences (not only of service experience but of brand experience also) across ten U.S. cities and within 13 industry sectors.

800 visits in total were conducted. More details on the methodology employed are available upon request.

US in comparison to Europe and the Middle East

This opening survey of the US market has been compared with its regular surveys in Europe and the Middle East.

Edwards-Hall added that overall the United States came in first in customer service when compared to other countries in Europe and the Middle East, which should be a comforting thought for the nation that prides itself in having shown the rest of the world to ‘have a nice day’; however, what this survey proves is that the gap is closing, with the British, Germans and Dutch delivering excellent service.

Edwards-Hall, herself an experienced practitioner of such surveys in Europe, added “I was surprised at the rankings of US cities that emerged from the survey and when we put the results into a league table there were, for us, some surprising results!”

According to Edwards-Hall, “As competition increases both locally and internationally, it will be those companies that really understand what keeps a customer and makes them a fan that stay top of the pile. The survey clearly shows that those who put their people first and equal with their customers will win the day”. Grass Roots specializes in the improvement of performance by ensuring that frontline staff have the knowledge and skills to perform, are regularly measured, given the motivation to improve and recognized when they do.

About Grass Roots

A leading international performance improvement company.

Services include communication, education, measurement, rewards and events.

Subsidiaries throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa, The Americas, Asia Pacific and India.

1000 employees serving some 2000 clients companies.

Turnover $500m – 2006-07.

Grass Roots is listed in the 2007 Sunday Times list of Best 100 companies to work for.

Integral to driving the success of any performance improvement solution is the measurement of desired behaviors.

Grass Roots offers proven expertise in mystery shopping, audits and direct customer feedback as a basis for identifying where service standards can be improved. These techniques provide the necessary insight to provide targeted communication, education measurement and reward - services already provided by its US subsidiary over the last two years.

Grass Roots in the USA is bringing three decades of mystery shopping and performance measurement experience from the UK and Europe, and putting it to use in the U.S. This move has been prompted in part, by its Fortune 500 clients taking a global view of life.

Many of the largest international retail brands currently appreciate how our performance measurement services deliver actionable data and not simply statistics, and employ services from Grass Roots that help create positive outcomes.

The most recent Grass Roots addition in the U.S. has recently published a report covering major geographic and retail markets in the USA. To obtain a copy now please contact Jane Edwards-Hall at jane.edwards@grg.com , alternatively the full report and presentation will be available to download w/c 24th September by clicking on our “news” section on www.grg.com

To find out additional information on how to help your business, contact Nigel Cover at nigel.cover@grg.com, for services that extend all over the world.

Acrobat Document GrassRoots_PressRelease_Sep07_guidd1c0173b3c9c4c82.pdf


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