Five Great Service Providers

It is really wonderful to experience great service.  In this post, I highlight five companies that epitomize my criteria for great services.  One is 170 years old, another 98 years old, another 75 years old, and the others 39 and 32 years old.  Several much younger companies, with whom I interact, do not make my list of great service providers.

These five companies are in different markets. America Express, founded in 1850, is in financial services. USAA (1922) is in the insurance market.  Kaiser-Permanente (1945) is in healthcare. Kimpton (1981) is in the hotel market. Bozzuto (1988) manages rental apartments.  I have regularly experienced excellent service from these companies.

What are the ingredients of excellent service?  First, they are very responsive.  It is easy to access their services, all of which are enabled by excellent online capabilities.  I do not have to spend significant amounts of time figuring out how to get my concerns addressed.  They understand the elements of excellent user experiences.

Another ingredient is the great staff attitudes exhibited by virtually everybody.  During the mid 2000s, I spent over 100 nights at a Marriott property in Newport Coast.  They never remembered who I was.  Kimpton knows who I am, my preferences, and other Kimpton properties I have visited.  They know I like peanut M&Ms.   Marriott just wants me to attend a time-share presentation that I have heard several times and is not impressive to an economist.

Top service providers are also proactive.  KP checks with me about any side effects of prescriptions.  They check whether my emotional sense of well being is being affected by the coronavirus.  USAA checks to determine whether or not my issues have been resolved.  When their property insurance quote seems high, they tell me that other customers have commented on this.

Why are these service providers so good?  One reason is the great levels of integration exemplified by AMEX, KP, and USAA.  However, another possibility is the great promotion opportunities I have observed at Kimpton and Bozzuto.  My wealth of experiences with these companies is that top-notch people are promoted quickly from guest services manager to front-desk manager to general manager.  Making such transitions in 1-2 years is highly motivating.

My intuition is that the great service experiences provided by these companies are not simply the results of good fortune.  They designed their service infrastructures carefully, investing substantially in human and technology capabilities.  Quality of service is a great competitive advantage whether you are providing financial services, insurance, healthcare, hotel rooms, or rental apartments.  People remember experiences far beyond the transactional value of the services purchased.


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