How Good Is Your City’s Customer Service?

We’re used to seeing ratings that tell us which companies have the best and worst service. But there has never been a study that compares service quality across cities. Until now.

The Cicerone Group recently teamed up with two market research companies, NetReflector and GMI, to conduct the first nationwide consumer survey to rank US cities by the quality of their service. We wanted to find out what travelers thought about the service they received when they visited different areas – service from all sources, including hotels, restaurants, stores, banks, taxis, etc .

Results from the survey show that 85% of travelers to US cities consider customer service to be very important to the overall quality of their visit. That’s because customers interact with a wide range of companies and government agencies when they travel, and those interactions help shape the memories of their visit and their opinion of the area. Cities that provide consistently friendly and efficient service to travelers can increase their attractiveness as a destination, bringing much-needed revenue to the area. On the other hand, poor service experiences, particularly when they result in long waits, added expense or disrupted plans, can harm a city’s reputation and unfavorably influence a visitor’s intention to come back for future visits.

So where can travelers find the best service? Our survey shows that among the 30 largest US cities, the top three for customer service are all in the South. Charlotte came in as number one, closely followed by Nashville and Austin. Tied for fourth place are three Western cities: Seattle, Portland and Las Vegas. Among the top ten, none are located in the East, and only one – Columbus, which comes in tenth place – is in the Midwest.

While Charlotte gets top honors for overall customer service, Seattle is rated number one for the knowledge of its service providers. We included a rating for knowledge because the ability to offer reliable information and efficient service is a major part of satisfying customers. This is particularly true when people are traveling in unfamiliar areas. It makes a great impression if service providers are not only knowledgeable about their own business, but are also informed about the region and can act as good-will ambassadors.

Not surprisingly, travelers reported that hotels and restaurants generally give the best customer service. Their worst experiences tend to involve transportation providers, with taxis, car rental companies and airlines receiving the lowest ratings.

There are plenty of actions that cities can take to improve their quality of service, not only for visitors, but for residents as well. They can raise awareness of the importance of good service among local companies and government agencies, provide service training, develop regional service standards, and offer recognition to top service providers in their area. And city governments don’t need to act alone. They can enlist the help of a variety of organizations with a vested interest in attracting visitors, such as Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Councils.

How does your city rank? Click on this link and you can read the entire report summary: US Cities Customer Service Rankings.

By Christine Frishholz and Peter Gurney

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 at 7:08 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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