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Home Depot Keeps Customers Happy

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LOS ANGELES "Variance in Customer Experience," a new study released by the Chief Marketing Officer Council, has found large gaps between some brands' promises and consumers' actual experiences.

The study looked at customer service across Web sites, call centers, advertising, collateral, in-store/retail experiences and sponsored events.

Of the 25 brands audited, the five that scored highest overall were, in order, Home Depot, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Allstate.

Liz Miller, vp, CMO Council, said she was "shocked" how "the message of the brand promise ... is often drastically different at the call center." She cited Comcast as the biggest offender. "We had [our auditor] go through three operators before getting an answer [on a package offer]," Miller said.

She added that some brands had taken customer experience hits by proxy. For example, Best Buy ranked high for in-store service, but had problems with Dell computers because "Dell had not given Best Buy the information necessary to solve the problem," she said.

The bottom-line lesson: "Embrace the brand promise and the customer experience," Miller said, "and be ridiculously consistent across all the touch points."