Amazon scored tops in customer service out of 143 different companies, according to the Temkin Group.
Based on a survey of 6,000 different consumers in January, the 2011 Temkin Experience Ratings rated companies across a variety of industries based on recent dealings with customers. The survey looked at interactions online, in person, and over the phone, and asked consumers how their needs were met, how easy it was to do what they needed to do, and how they felt about the overall experience.
Retail chains did well in the survey, with Amazon followed by Costco, Lowe's, and Sam's Club for the top five spots. With an experience rating of 81 percent out of 100, Amazon did especially well in meeting the needs of those customers surveyed and offering a positive experience overall.
But other industries didn't fare as well.
Noting that only nine companies took home a rating of "excellent," the Temkin Group singled out PC makers in general as scoring poorly in the customer experience. Apple, which typically gets high marks for customer service, scored only 60 percent, which in Temkin's analysis put it in the bottom half of all companies rated. But even in Temkin's report, Apple did rank the highest in its industry, leaving other PC manufacturers, such as Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP, and Lenovo, further down the list.
Wireless carriers, Internet service providers, and TV providers also were among those low in the rankings, according to Temkin. Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and AT&T all wound up in the bottom half of all companies as did Time Warner and Cablevision. Cable TV giant Comcast was second to last among all 143 companies, while TV providers as a whole were at the very bottom of the list, just below health care providers.
Overall, only 16 percent of all companies ranked received an "excellent" or "good" rating with the rest graded as "okay," "poor," or "very poor." The Temkin Group describes some of the methodology behind the rankings at its Web site.
The author of the report, Bruce Temkin, also pointed out that the current Experience Ratings focused on direct interactions with the companies and not necessarily on product ownership. That's one key reason why certain companies, such as Apple, scored lower than might otherwise be expected. Temkin also noted that the rankings didn't compare companies within their own specific industry but rather across the board.
"One of the really valuable things about the rating is to come up with a way to look at companies across industries," Temkin said. "So I think the story there is that Apple is very good as a PC manufacturer, but it's no Amazon.com."
Temkin added that he has other types of reports in the works, each one focusing on different ratings, including forgiveness, trust, customer service, and Web experience. Next on the agenda is a report that examines loyalty, an area where he believes Apple is likely to outpace other PC makers even more than it did in the area of customer interaction.
Secrets of Apple's customer success
Survey: T-Mobile tops in customer satisfaction
Survey: Facebook fails at customer satisfaction
Updated April 5, 10 a.m. PT with comments from author of report.