In honor of the Amazon/Zappos merger, this entry is about customer service.

Company: Supermarkets
Customer Service Rating: Bad
Rationale: Customers in Supermarkets want to get their groceries and get on their way. The only convention to help expedite shoppers experience is the “15 Items or Less” checkout lane. This lane basically provides the best (fastest) service to your worst customers – those who are only spending a small amount.
Solution: Provide customer who consistently spend over $200 with a personal shopper to walk around the store with them, price-gunning items as they go in the cart (like a wedding registry price gun). The personal shopper will be able to provide product recommendations as well as an expedited shopping/check-out experience.

Company: Credit Card Companies
Customer Service Rating: Good
Rationale: They consciously provide better customer service and rewards programs to higher-spending card members. They also usually work in a relatively simple two tiered system where supervisors are empowered to provide compensation for negative user experience.
Improvement: I don’t particularly like how you have to re-explain your issue every time you get transferred to a different person (supervisor, different department). They should be able to take notes and pass them along with your call.

Company: Cable Companies
Customer Service Rating: Bad
Rationale: Cable Companies continually offer incentives to new customers (e.g. “Get your first year for only $29/mo!”) that completely undercut the prices that their more loyal current customers are paying. When a current customer sees an ad for a new customer incentive, it basically advertises how bad a deal the current customer is getting – poking more holes in an already leaky bucket.
Solution: Institute a rewards program – the longer you are a customer the more points you accrue. Points could be redeemed for premium movie channels or PPV movie rentals. Maybe the most loyal customers would get priority when calling to speak to a customer service representative.

Company: Cell Phone Companies
Customer Service Rating: Bad
Rationale: Cell Phone Companies make the majority of their profits off of fees associated with exceeding designated minute allowances or data usage. To maximize profits, cell phone companies make little effort to let customers know when they’re outside of their contacted usage and therefore subject to (ridiculously high) fees. The nature of this system means that the best customers (the people who are most profitable) are actually the customers who are having the worst experience (they’re getting hit with unexpected fees).
Solution: Redesign the plan-structure to be based on actual usage rather than projected usage. Make profit on offering additional services and improving customer experience (driving directions, directory assistance, restaurant recommendations, etc…), rather than tricking customers into paying fees.

Anyone have other good examples?

Customer Service