As a customer you can feel it when a company has gone above and beyond for you, it feels…different.
But if going above and beyond for customers was so easy, every business would do it – but they don’t. Why? Well it’s hard to do! It’s hard to create an amazing experience for all of your customers when you have not made it part of the bones of your company.
But some shining star brands actually do it, and they’ve figured out how to “do it” all the time. What is it they do? They make customers feel GOOD. That is why recent research shows that 89% of companies that lead with customer experience perform better financially than their peers.
These companies have a customer focus in everything they do, from how they treat employees to how they innovate and serve their local communities – because you can no longer just operate in a vacuum. Every action you take, every decision, has a butterfly effect, and being customer-centric today also means being self-aware.
Every year, I create a list of the most customer-centric companies to recognize companies that lead with customer experience. The companies I’ve recognized are not just known for great customer experience, they excel at being a great place to work, they have high customer satisfaction, they achieve culture awards, receive innovation recognition. I also see them come up again and again in my own research for my work as a customer experience keynote speaker.
The last few years have made this list different. These are companies that stepped up during the pandemic. Customers don’t want to go back to the way things were pre-pandemic. They expect companies to continue to personalize customer experiences, and meet customers where they are, whether that is at a digital doorstep, or in a phygital experience.
According to Accenture, over 50% of customers have reimagined themselves, and are re-evaluating their personal purpose and what matters to them in life. Loyalty died during COVID. Customers didn’t and still don’t have the patience to wait around for a company to get its act together. According to Forrester, high-growth companies are 2.5x more likely to focus on solving customer problems than their competitors.
Today’s companies are faced with changed customers, new pressures, and a stronger need to make a difference in their communities and the world. This year’s list of top CX companies is based on five categories:
- COVID 911. How did companies respond to the pandemic? Did they rise to the occasion for their customers and employees? *This was the most heavily weighted category because COVID impacted customers’ lives more than anything else.
- CX mindset. How do companies treat customers through customer service and other channels? Does the company aim to reduce stress with quality products and services? Are executives involved in customer experience? Is there a culture where employees wake up excited to serve customers?
- Community and environmental responsibility. Customers want companies to take a stand on racism and inequality. Do companies take a stand for critical cultural issues like diversity and the environment? Do they prioritize transparency and sustainability?
- Employee experience. Are employees empowered to do their jobs well? Do they have the tools, physical space, and culture to feel valued at work and serve customers? Contact centers are notorious for providing staff too little too late. They treat contact center employees like children, making most customer service interactions very frustrating.
- Innovation. Has the company found creative ways to solve problems? Are they leading their industry and creating innovative solutions? Innovative companies are always finding new and better ways to serve their customers.
With those criteria in mind, here are the top 100 customer-centric companies in 2022:
- Discount Tire. The company is known for its strong culture and focus on collaboration, customers, and integrity. Its Treadwell program helps customers find the right tires online before they go into the store, creating a blended shopping experience between online and in-store that saves time and allows employees to offer more personalized service.
- ThredUp. ThredUp started a movement of reselling items and changed how people shop and think about secondhand clothing. Sustainability needs to be top of mind for every retailer. This retailer partners with stores like Macy’s and JCPenney and more than 20 brands, including Adidas and Crocs, to make used clothing accessible and popular.
- Lululemon. Lululemon was named a top 10 Best Place to Work in 2022 by Glassdoor because of its strong benefits and personal development opportunities for employees. The company found innovative ways to adjust to at-home fitness growth, including building a robust omnichannel experience, offering virtual classes, and acquiring Mirror.
- Depop. Taking an innovative approach to connecting with younger customers, Depop combines retail and social networking with its marketplace of secondhand, designer, and handmade products. Adding a social aspect to shopping allows for instant feedback between buyers and sellers and faster transactions.
- CVS Health. The store emphasizes health and changed its design to make it easier for customers to get what they need. New features include vending machines and kiosks for everyday personal care items and drive-thru over-the-counter medicine. CVS hired 50,000 furloughed hotel workers during the pandemic.
- Target. The big-box store was widely praised for its COVID response. Target put employees first with increased benefits and pay and quickly expanded drive-up options for customers. Target also highlights social issues by partnering with POC designers to bring a more diverse product offering.
- Nike. Nike continues to push boundaries and think outside the box. Its app offers recommendations through chat and connects customers to in-store workshops and events. Nike is also opening more Nike Live stores with a shoe bar and consultations.
- Trader Joe’s. Customers love the unique products, personalization, and great service of Trader Joe’s, as do employees. The grocery chain is leading the way in sustainability to reduce food waste and listened to customer feedback to prioritize cleanliness and safety. Unlike other grocery stores, Trader Joe’s didn’t pivot to delivery during the pandemic because in-store discovery is essential to its business model.
- Ulta Beauty. When customers couldn’t try on products in person during the pandemic, Ulta quickly scaled its GLAMlab virtual try-on experience. In just months, Ulta added a skin analysis tool and AI-powered try-ons for hair, eyelashes, and more—with hundreds of products added every week.
- Canada Goose. The winter clothing retailer takes immersive retail to the next level. Stores have Cold Rooms where customers can test coats in -27 degrees with gusts of wind and snow. It also turned some stores into interactive museums. Canada Goose’s innovation and storytelling drive loyalty—its revenue increased more than 15% in 2020 despite stores being closed for months.
Restaurants and Food
- Starbucks. The coffee giant pivoted away from in-person dining to improve its drive-thru and delivery offerings and continues to strengthen its already top-tier app and rewards program. Its innovative Deep Brew AI system streamlines operations so employees can better serve customers.
- Oat Haus. Oat Haus creates spreadable granola butter as a healthy alternative to nut butters and uses its brand to create a movement of positivity around body image. The founder Ali Bonar uses social media to showcase highs and lows and connect transparently with customers.
- Goldbelly. Goldbelly facilitates shipment and delivery from local restaurants and food companies and saw massive growth during the pandemic. The company aims to maximize profits for restaurants and provide quick delivery to customers.
- Beyond Meat. Plant-based products are created with 99% less water and require less energy and land, which has a huge environmental impact. Beyond Meat partnered with major chains like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and KFC to get meatless burgers to the masses.
- McCormick. The spice maker was named the most sustainable company in America because it focuses on sustainable sourcing and invests in farming communities and empowering women around the world.
- McDonald’s. McDonald’s is growing its brand through solid digital solutions to offer faster and more personalized service, including kiosks and mobile ordering. During the pandemic, McDonald’s hired 260,000 employees.
- Fridge No More. Fridge No More creates smaller fulfillment centers to fulfill and deliver groceries orders within 15 minutes. Using technology and careful logistics, Fridge No More stays on top of inventory for accurate orders.
- Imperfect Foods. Imperfect Foods reduces food waste by selling produce and other items that are safe but not “pretty” enough to be on store shelves. Customers get high-quality items that may be a little misshapen or off-color straight to their doorsteps.
- Brinker International. The restaurant company behind Chili’s and Magianno’s spun off virtual brands that only offer delivery services and no in-person dining. The agile approach allows the company to test new menus and create items customers want.
- Three Wishes. Creating a healthy alternative to sugary cereals, Three Wishes creates grain-free and gluten-free cereal packed with protein to make healthy eating easier and more available for busy families.
- Happy Money. The peer-to-peer lending service helps customers with fair or good credit scores consolidate and pay off high-interest debt. With a more customer-friendly and personalized approach than many major banks, Happy Money allows customers to personalize their payment schedules. It takes the penalties and confusion out of debt to help customers raise their credit scores.
- Mastercard. Mastercard was named an MIT Culture Champion for its agility and collaboration. The company is committed to equal pay, involving employees in doing good, and supporting STEM programs for girls. For customers, Mastercard uses technology to increase the ease of transactions and personalize the experience.
- eXp Realty. The cloud-based realty brokerage allows employees to work from anywhere, which helped it become a Glassdoor Best Place to Work. Collaboration technology provides an excellent experience for customers that involves them in the entire process and lowers real estate fees.
- Betterment. Betterment customers share their financial goals, and the app automatically recommends the right type of account, anything from stocks to crypto to traditional savings. Investments are all managed automatically through the app with the option for a human advisor if needed, making investing more accessible.
- Capital One. Capital One topped the ACSI score for banks and was one of just a few to increase its score in 2021. Capital One is changing what it means to bank, including the design and services of its stores. Its new specialized credit cards allow for more personalized experiences and rewards.
- Branch International. Branch International offers finance for the mobile generation. The app leverages data science to provide fast, affordable loans, especially for people who struggle to secure credit through traditional banks, and makes it as convenient and straightforward as possible.
- Fidelity. Real-time customer feedback is a hallmark at Fidelity and one reason it earned the highest customer satisfaction rating for financial advisors. Executives regularly call customers, and the company relies heavily on analytics to proactively reach out to customers.
- Seed Invest. Seed Invest connects entrepreneurs with everyday investors and makes investing in startups a seamless experience. The company removes traditional barriers limiting who can invest in businesses and helps customers diversify their investments with a wide range of startup possibilities.
- Comerica. Named one of the most sustainable companies (and the only representative from financial services), Comerica cut 20% of its greenhouse gas emissions and waste to landfills in 2020 alone. It uses a relationship-based sales model to connect customers to the right products.
- Privacy.com. With data breaches and cyber attacks on the rise, Privacy.com gives customers peace of mind for online purchases. Customers create unique virtual cards instead of using their physical card information, which protects against hacks and hidden subscription fees.
- Illumina. The company focuses on innovation in genetic variation research and products, provides people and communities in need with access to genetic testing, and invests in sustainable manufacturing and products.
- Bristol Myers Squibb. The company was named the top pharma company for innovation in 2021 and is regularly recognized for its customer-focused agility. Bristol Myers Squibb recently built a new R&D facility and invests in employee experience and professional development to better serve customers.
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a leading research center, St. Jude’s provides free resources and studies for children with cancer. Its collaborative environment encourages care teams and researchers to work together to find the best solution for each patient.
- Boulder Care. Boulder Care takes a disruptive approach to treating addiction. Instead of siloed care, the telehealth platform connects people suffering from opioid addiction with medicine, a peer coach for emotional support, and a care advocate.
- Boston Scientific. The company was named an MIT Culture Champion for its focus on innovation, ownership, and accountability. Boston Scientific offers convenient digital solutions that add value for patients and caregivers and simplify healthcare.
- Honeybee Health. Honeybee Health is an online D2C pharmacy disrupting the traditional pharma industry by cutting out the intermediaries to deliver prescriptions straight to customers at the lowest possible prices. Honeybee Health works primarily with under- and uninsured patients to ensure everyone has access to affordable treatments.
- Baxter. Baxter’s social and environmental efforts earn it regular recognition for its corporate responsibility. In a highly collaborative environment, Baxter promotes diversity and social justice movements within its employees, communities, and supply chain partners.
- Merck. Merck was named a top responsible company in America for its environmental efforts, including its goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. Merck focuses on diversity in its leadership positions and led the way with COVID anti-viral treatments.
- Carewell. This innovative company meets the needs of the millions of unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. Its marketplace curates a wide variety of home healthcare supplies, and the customer support team provides resources and education about caretaking and how the products work.
- GoodRx. The GoodRx app makes it easy for customers to save money on prescriptions, regardless of their insurance. During the pandemic, GoodRx saw a need and pivoted to connect customers with vetted telehealth providers through its marketplace.
- Shopify. Named the #1 most innovative company by Fast Company, Shopify pivoted quickly during the pandemic to launch tools to support small businesses as they shifted to e-commerce. It highlights local stores on its app and designed a plug-in to create shoppable ads on TikTok.
- Accenture. Accenture is a champion for diversity, as seen through its leadership training, employee support groups, and diversity focus in new employee orientation.
- Divvy. Expense management company Divvy takes a modern approach to business budgeting. Its intuitive app gets rid of expense reports so companies of all sizes have a better view of their money and can spend without going over budget.
- HP. Among its many accolades, HP was named the most responsible company in America by Newsweek because it cares about more than just profits. HP has a highly supportive culture and uses its products for global good in healthcare, sanitation, and drinking water. It also has the top ACSI score for computers.
- Box. Box—a B2B software company—has employees that are loyal to the brand and provide regular feedback to continually improve the company and participate in diversity and inclusion efforts. Box also does good in the world by donating 1% of all profits to nonprofits.
- Clayco. In recent years, the construction industry has seen a boom, and Clayco keeps companies efficient and safe. Using AR, construction managers can virtually check site progress from anywhere in the world and see the details of what needs to be finished or repaired.
- Boston Consulting Group. With a staggering 99% approval rating, CEO Rich Lesser was voted the top CEO on Glassdoor for his integrity, empathy, and transparency during the pandemic (he stepped down in 2021). Boston Consulting Group encourages innovation and experimentation from its employees and customers through a data-driven ideation process.
- Jacobs. Engineering and consulting company Jacob earned a perfect score in environmental responsibility, largely because of the company’s actionable, sustainable business objectives that it uses in every endeavor. Jacobs is working towards a connected, sustainable world.
- Snowflake Computing. Cloud-based Snowflake Computing changes how companies store and analyze data. The customer-centric design puts real-time data management in a single platform so companies can save money and spend less time managing data and more time growing their businesses.
- Calendly. Calendly was created to solve a common business problem: the hassle of scheduling meetings and appointments. The simple interface makes it easy for companies to schedule any type of meeting or appointment. Calendly saw huge growth during the pandemic as teams worked remotely.
- Apple. Apple was a leader in pandemic response as it donated millions of face masks, partnered with Google to lead contact tracing efforts, and gave its entire retail staff unlimited paid sick leave. In 2021, Apple announced DIY repairs to provide faster and better service to customers.
- Google. The tech giant led contact tracing efforts, tracked cases through Google maps, created a fund to allow staff to take paid leave if they tested positive for COVID, and donated $800 million to small businesses and healthcare organizations. Google also helped prevent the spread of false information during the pandemic.
- Framework. Computer repairs can be frustrating and costly, but Framework created a modular laptop that can easily be taken apart and repaired. Each piece is labeled with a QR code that links to repair instructions and a marketplace for replacement parts. The solution prolongs the use of the computer and keeps parts out of landfills.
- Juniper Networks. Juniper Networks used strategic acquisitions to build its network and portfolio in recent years as it helps customers realign their networks to scale cloud technology. Juniper goes beyond just building the network to advising customers on how to apply the technology.
- SimpliSafe. Aside from creating leading connected home security devices, SimpliSafe has an empathetic culture. Every employee is focused on fulfilling the company’s mission: helping customers make their homes safe.
- Intelligent Waves. This innovative tech startup created Hypori, a virtual smartphone within a smartphone to separate personal data from work data. Hypori allows customers to use a single device for both work and personal use without mixing sensitive files, which is especially useful with more people working from home.
- Samsung. Samsung recently unveiled a new support site and chat features that increased customer engagement by 19%. It uses AI to measure feedback and calls, find patterns, and prevent future issues. Samsung earned the highest customer satisfaction score among cell phone companies.
- Tanium. Tanium takes a personalized approach to cybersecurity by mapping an organization’s internet-enabled hardware and monitoring for breaches on each device. The system caters to each customer’s needs and provides powerful protection from a variety of attacks.
- AT&T. AT&T has a significantly higher ACSI score than any other internet provider and saw a nearly 5% increase in customer satisfaction from 2020 to 2021. A renewed employee experience with updated benefits and hybrid work schedules support employees.
- Mint Mobile. Mint Mobile simplifies cell phone plans with low-cost monthly service and no extra fees. Customers appreciate the simplicity and transparency of getting great products and service without the runaround.
- Airbnb. Airbnb regularly donates housing during times of trouble, including offering 100,000 places for healthcare workers and first responders to stay during the pandemic and covering costs for thousands of Ukrainian refugees. When travel was limited, Airbnb pivoted to digital experiences to expand its mission of belonging and inclusion.
- Tribute Hotels. This Marriott portfolio bridges the gap between chain hotels and individual boutiques. Each hand-picked hotel in the network has unique guest amenities that allow travelers to support independent hotels while still being confident that they are booking a recognizable brand.
- Journera. Journera relieves stress for travelers by linking all the reservations from a user’s trip, including hotel, air, and rental cars, and automatically alerting all companies of itinerary changes in real-time. It has been adopted by more than 40% of travel companies.
- Inspirato. Inspirato was the first company to go completely subscription-based with all-you-can-travel for one monthly fee. Guests can stay at 300 global luxury locations without extra fees, making travel simple.
- Hilton. Hilton was named the most sustainable hotel chain and aims to cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030. Hilton employees are among the happiest because the company treats them like its guests, with respect and support.
- Delta. Delta has the highest ACSI score for airlines because of its safety measures and caring service. It was the first airline to enact COVID safety measures and has promised to continue its leading cleanliness procedures after the pandemic.
- Hopper. The app and website uses AI to predict when airfare and hotel rates will drop and offers a price-freeze option that allows users to hold rates before booking. Hopper is committed to offsetting the carbon emissions of every flight and hotel stay it sells.
- EVEN Hotels. The wellness-focused hotel brand by IHC creates an immersive experience for guests with a variety of activities and in-room fitness equipment. Hotel staff, including managers called Chief Wellness Officers, provide resources for relaxing, exercising, and connecting with the city.
- Dollar Car Rental. Dollar increased its ACSI score by more than 4% in 2021, even as the industry average dropped. Dollar’s strong loyalty program, prepayment discounts, and streamlined processes make traveling easier for customers.
- Hipcamp. With more people getting outside during the pandemic, Hipcamp made it easy for customers to find camping sites. The service uses AI to predict demand and connects customers with a wide variety of camping options, including hosts adding extras like firewood and outdoor experiences for the complete package.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield. The company calmly provided information to customers during the pandemic and donated nearly $13 billion to COVID relief. Blue Cross Blue Shield increased its customer satisfaction scores by more than 4% in 2021 and leads health insurance.
- Zego. This innovative insurer offers flexible policies for cars (coverage for as little as one hour) and entrepreneurs and gig workers. The app’s pay-as-you-go structure is easy to access for instant coverage. Zego leverages technology with granular data streams to evaluate pricing levels and ensure it is at the correct rates.
- Allstate. With the highest customer satisfaction among property insurers, Allstate quickly added touchless claims with satellite imagery and mobile claims centers during the pandemic. Using virtual tools allows for quick service without face-to-face interaction.
- Root. Root’s business is centered around rewarding drivers for good driving, often cutting their premiums in half. Roadside assistance is included with every policy, and customers can take care of everything directly through the well-designed app.
- State Farm. State Farm’s customer-centric mindset comes through in its digital tools for employees and customers. Its unified dashboard puts everything agents need in one place to provide personalized service and keep customers informed.
- Haven Life. With instant policies, Haven Life takes the hassle out of life insurance. Customers fill out an application online and can get approved right away without a medical exam. Once approved, coverage can start within minutes and is easy to adjust or decrease as needed.
- USAA. USAA earned the top customer service score in 2021 and has an NPS 4x the industry average. The company encourages empathy in its employees and puts them through mock boot camps to better understand customers. Employees also voice opinions that create and change workplace programs.
- Eusoh. The peer-to-peer pet insurer brings together like-minded pet owners to create a community and share expenses from a huge range of pet injuries, illnesses, and conditions. The transparent pricing, freedom to use any veterinarian, and extended coverage make this company popular with pet owners.
- Metromile. Metromile offers pay-by-mile car insurance for drivers with low mileage. Its AVA chatbot processes and verifies claims quickly and accurately and can process 80% of claims immediately, a huge improvement over traditional insurance.
- Spot. Spot Insurance is designed for people with adventurous lifestyles. The monthly subscription provides short-term policies to supplement traditional insurance and covers accidents that may happen while biking, skiing, or rock climbing. With Spot coverage, customers can quickly get the medical help they need and be reimbursed later through the app without red tape.
Manufacturing and Logistics
- Nvidia. Nvidia was named the #1 Best Place in Work in 2022 and an MIT Culture Champion for its leading innovation. The company is committed to the community and holds an annual employee volunteering event instead of an employee holiday party.
- Applied Materials. Social responsibility is a hallmark of Applied Materials, seen through its intentionally diverse leadership and teams. Every decision is made by considering the impact on the company, the industry, and the world. Applied Materials will source 100% of its energy used in the U.S. from renewable sources by 2022 and globally by 2030.
- OneTrack. OneTrack uses AI-powered cameras to scan factory floors for wobbling boxes, debris, and safety issues and automatically alerts workers. Its technology is 7x more accurate than traditional telemetry systems.
- Happy Returns. With its packaging-free, in-person returns at kiosks and stores around the country, Happy Returns is changing how customers and brands return items. Demand for alternative returns doubled during the pandemic, and Happy Returns capitalized by partnering with FedEx offices for QR, boxless returns.
- Analog Devices. The semiconductor company designs products to work longer to minimize the materials needed for manufacturing and packaging. Analog Devices aims to be carbon neutral by 2030 and have net zero emissions by 2050.
- Owens Corning. The maker of fiberglass, roofing, and installation solutions was named one of the most sustainable companies in America. By 2030, Owens Corning aims to double the positive impact of its products, half the negative impact, and grow inclusion, diversity, and community impact.
- Resonance. Known for its innovation and sustainability, Resonance created a made-to-order manufacturing system for D2C fashion brands to reduce waste and manage their inventory levels using eco-friendly fabrics and an automated supply chain. It also launched an accelerator to launch brands for Black designers.
- Attabotics. Attabotics transforms rows and aisles of warehouses into modular and scalable vertical storage and uses robots to arrange and retrieve items. Its products reduce warehouse space by 85% for companies in all industries, increasing efficiency and lowering their carbon footprints.
- Ranpak. Eco-friendly packaging brand Ranpak creates a variety of paper-based shipping materials that are eco-friendly and sustainable. Its automated AccuFill system cushions packages with just enough paper to be effective, significantly reducing waste and materials.
- Lockheed Martin. Community is central to Lockheed Martin, as shown by its leading COVID response to support healthcare workers and virtual learning and create community health and resource centers. Employees are empowered with strong benefits and development opportunities.
- Ford. With a goal to be carbon-neutral by 2050, Ford is doubling-down on electric cars. The electric version of its best-selling F-150 pickup makes electric vehicles accessible by being eco-friendly without sacrificing power.
- Carvana. Rated the best company for online car buying, Carvana customers can browse with a 360-degree view of vetted vehicles and enjoy delivery and a seven-day return window. The company expanded its contactless sales options during the pandemic for safe and convenient service.
- Canoo. The EV startup uses a modular design for efficient production. Its delivery van has the potential to revolutionize the commercial space and significantly reduce the cost of deliveries. Canoo’s pickup design includes customer-favorite features like a fold-down work table and built-in bed extension with the power of a traditional truck.
- Volkswagen. Named the most innovative car brand in 2021, VW is leading the way with AR interfaces and tech-enabled vehicles. The company also uses a direct-to-consumer sales model for seamless cross-channel transactions.
- Tred. Combining the security of car dealerships and the freedom of private sellers, Tred connects car buyers and verified private sellers through a secure marketplace. The site offers financing options, warranties, and inspection guarantees.
- Holoride. The makers of in-car VR systems are leveling up in-car entertainment to transport back-seat passengers anywhere. Holoride is partnering with Audi to unveil its systems in select models, including headsets and VR experiences that adapt to the car’s movements.
- Tesla. Tesla owners are extremely loyal, largely because the company removes much of the friction of buying and maintaining a vehicle and offers dynamic personalization. Customers can order cars entirely online with less than 10 clicks and transparent pricing.
- TrueCar. With a rise in demand for online car buying, TrueCar extended its marketplace and financing offerings so that customers can buy and sell new and used cars beyond their local area—all online. Internally, TrueCar leverages cross-departmental teams to deliver customer-focused products and service.
- Hyundai. Hyundai’s customer experience is led by the executive team and driven by vast amounts of data. The company starts tracking customers when they search for Hyundai, which builds long-term relationships and allows the company to track customers through the entire buying journey for a more personalized experience.
- Honda. Honda has the top ACSI score for car companies, with an increase of nearly 4% from last year. The company’s wide selection of high-quality vehicles and good service creates loyal customers.
Blake Morgan was called The Queen of Customer Experience by Meta. She is a globally recognized keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Read her free ebook on the Top Five Customer Experience Trends of 2022 here.