The 10 Most Customer-Obsessed Companies Of 2019

An amazing customer experience is one of the biggest competitive advantages a company can have. Instead of competing on price, more than two-thirds of companies now compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.

But there are some companies that take it a step further and are completely customer-centric in everything they do. Last year I published the most customer-centric companies of 2018 and companies like Costco, Amazon, Zappos, Harley-Davidson, Trader Joes and Ritz-Carlton made the list. This year I took a slightly different approach, taking a more quantitate view looking at specific areas that might surprise you. Please note these are not the only customer-centric companies, nor is this list an exact science. But I do my best to make it fair and consider all kinds of companies. I highlight many customer-centric companies in my column throughout the year, and this list does not take away from the many other companies that are also doing incredible work.

But let’s get to this year’s list. What does it take to top the list of most customer-centric companies? A well-balanced approach to four major principles: innovation, environmentalism and sustainability, employee experience and customer centricity. To be successful, companies can’t rely on one of these principles; they need to excel in all four areas. The ten best-in-class companies on this list below excel in each area and have been recognized on lists including World’s Best Workplaces 201950 Most Innovative CompaniesAmerica’s Best Customer Service 2019 and Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.

Innovation comes from companies that push the envelope and question the status quo. Innovative companies are always looking for ways to better serve customers and improve their lives. They are problem solvers and never rest on their past legacy.

Environmentalism matters because modern companies need to be sustainable, both in the products they offer and their internal manufacturing systems. Customers want to do their part to help the environment and are more likely to support companies that are responsible towards the world around them. Modern companies can’t truly focus on their customers while ignoring our planet’s many pressing challenges we can no longer ignore.

Employees are the foundation of a strong customer experience, which means employee experience and culture are crucial in customer-centric companies. Successful organizations invest in empowering their employees and provide them with the right tools and culture to succeed. Culture is the most under-appreciated tool in impacting customer experience, and only 38% of consumers say employees understand their needs.

Customer centricity is what this list is all about. Customer-centric companies are laser focused on their customers. Instead of being driven by shareholders or revenue, these companies put customers at the center of every decision they make. They are customer focused over being product focused. That centricity is evident in great service and a cohesive customer experience.

With that in mind, here are the 10 most customer-centric companies of 2019 and how they excel in all four customer experience areas.

1. Chick-fil-A

As America’s favorite fast food chain, Chick-fil-A is known for its amazing customer service. It earned a 2019 ACSI score of 86, which tied for the best overall across all industries. Chick-fil-A also scored a customer service score of 9.11 from Newsweek, among its many other awards and recognitions. Chick-fil-A serves customers fresh food quickly and takes advantage of innovative technology like a high-quality app for mobile ordering and in-person management of busy drive-throughs during rush times. Employees receive training on skills ranging from customer relations to team management and have the opportunity to receive scholarships to further their education and advance their careers. Chick-fil-A is also committed to sustainability and recently announced plans to reduce construction waste on its new restaurants and remodels. It has also made excellent progress on its goals to completely source antibiotic-free chicken and cage-free eggs within the next few years.


Financial services isn’t typically known for its customer centricity, but USAA bucks the trend by offering personalized service to each customer. The company scored a Newsweek customer service score of 8.91 and is regularly recognized for its innovative approach to banking and insurance. With a Net Promoter Score four times the average banking score, USAA has loyal customers because it treats them like people, not just numbers. Employees are encouraged to take time to get to know customers to provide the best advice and product recommendations. USAA also appreciates employee feedback and has put hundreds of employee suggestions into practice. Innovation is encouraged and expected, especially when it helps customers. Each employee knows the value of the work they’re doing to serve military families. USAA’s innovative technology includes a best-in-class mobile app with augmented reality. Every channel is designed to be used how customers naturally use them. USAA is committed to sustainability through its efforts to cut paper usage, conserve energy, offer ride share programs and give back to the community, among other things.

3. Hilton

The hotel chain was named the second-best place to work in the world in 2019 due to its push to extend its “Hospitality for All” slogan to include front-line employees. All employees have access to the same technology as guests for a seamless experience. Employees also can use a chatbot to ask common questions and even receive training through VR. The hospitality extends to customers with incredibly personalized service and a seamless connection between offline and online interactions. Hilton also earned an ACSI score of 80, tied for the best among hotels. Innovation is part of the foundation at Hilton, including recently unveiling the ability to unlock hotel rooms via smartphone and Connected Room, which remembers a guest’s preferences like favorite TV channels, room temperature and light settings and makes automatic adjustments each time they check into a Hilton hotel. Hilton made big sustainability strides in 2019 as it was named a global industry leader for sustainability and aims to cut its footprint in half by 2030.

4. Kering SA

The French luxury brand was named the second most sustainable company in the world and has three pillars for its 2025 sustainability goals: care about the impact on the planet; collaborate for the good of employees, distributors and customers and create pioneering ideas for future generations. The luxury brands owned by the group include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Brioni and Pomellato. The company aims to craft tomorrow’s luxury with innovative practices that cut its environmental impact. Kering re-vamped its digital strategy at the end of 2018 to create a simplified and cohesive experience for customers, which paid off in 2019. The company now has a full view of customers so it can maintain close relationships and offer high levels of service throughout the entire buying journey. Employees use an in-store app to check stock levels in real time and offer extremely personalized service. The employee experience is bolstered by a staggering 98% CEO approval rating.

5. Workday

In 2019, software company Workday ranked 10th on the list of great places to work in the world due to its collaborative culture and robust training and upskilling programs. Workday employees are encouraged to take risks and try new things in the name of better serving customers. The company also boasts an amazing 98% customer satisfaction score for listening to customer feedback and adjusting its products to best meet customers’ needs. Constant innovation is part of the foundation at Workday, and it benefits both customers and employees. Workday is also committed to sustainability by lowering its carbon footprint and investing in renewable energy. Employees are encouraged to help in the community and take their own steps to sustainability.

6. Apple

Don’t write Apple off as a “has-been.” Even after years of leading the technology world, Apple continues to impress. It was named one of the 50 most innovative companies in 2019 for pushing its processors for faster performance across its devices. Apple leads ACSI scores in both cell phone and personal computers. Even as cell phone sales dropped across the industry in 2019, Apple continued to innovate by listening to what customers want and proactively producing solutions, such as Apple Card, iPhone 11 and services including Apple TV+. Apple has a strong employee experience where all employees, from front-line retail workers to top managers, are treated like executives. The respect-based culture focuses on people over products and creates an environment of engaged and passionate employees doing their best to share their excitement with each customer. Since 2016, Apple has been working towards entirely renewable energy. The company uses recycled materials in its biggest tech products, including recycled rare earth for the iPhone 11, and is on its way to a 100% closed supply chain with mindful manufacturing.

7. Natura

The Brazilian-based cosmetics company was named the 15th most sustainable company in the world in 2019 because of its continued efforts to source sustainable ingredients from the Amazon without hurting the environment or the people. Natura provides more than 2,000 jobs to Amazon locals and champions fair trade. The company has been completely carbon neutral since 2007 and continually finds new ways to cut waste. Natura continues to innovate with new manufacturing and packaging processes that extend its sustainable mission. In 2019, Natura was ranked #22 on the list of great places to work in the world, with 98% of employees saying they feel valued and included in the diverse environment. Natura has an industry-leading digital strategy that relies heavily on mobile. The streamlined communication helps employees and customers get the information they need and place orders digitally from anywhere in the world while also providing Natura with valuable customer data it uses to personalize and improve the overall experience.

8. Slack

Cloud-based communication company Slack’s forward-thinking customer experience strategy unites engineering with customer service. As the company has grown rapidly in recent years, employees have become experts in certain areas instead of trying to understand the entire product. The approach gives employees ownership and streamlines customer service. When a customer calls with a certain type of question, they can be quickly routed to an expert in that area. Customer service and engineering work together to track customer concerns and feedback and make regular adjustments to the products to best meet customer needs. From its beginning, Slack has been open to customer feedback at even its highest levels. That same feedback extends to employees, who are given regular pulse surveys to track engagement. A collaborative environment and unique organizational structure create diverse, flexible teams that can best get work done. Slack’s innovative approach to communication continues to grow as it adds new features to its instant messaging product, such as calendar integration and an improved workflow builder. Slack’s sustainability efforts help its clients around the world limit their paper usage by improving electronic communication.

9. Alaska Airlines

Airlines aren’t typically known for being customer-centric, but Alaska breaks the mold with its 2019 ACSI score of 80 and its Newsweek customer service score of 8.47, both the best of all airlines. Alaska Airlines puts customers at the center of the entire travel journey, from making a reservation to the in-flight experience and post-flight service. Employees are trained to anticipate travelers’ needs and create memorable service with a smile. Each employee receives an “empowerment toolkit” with vouchers and things they can use to help customers. In 2019, Alaska continued its path of innovation by relying heavily on technology in its in-flight experience, including updating planes with tablet integration, USB connections at each seat and high-speed internet. Alaska is even testing giving first-class passengers VR glasses. In recent years, Alaska has made partnerships to use more eco-friendly aviation fuel and cut its carbon emissions. Alaska’s goal is carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and beyond.

10.  Zola

The wedding registry service was ranked one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world in 2019 because of its unique approach to e-commerce. The company helps couples plan their weddings and make websites and registries. Zola ships registry items across its 600 brands directly from the manufacturers, which means it doesn’t hold any inventory and customers can quickly get products from multiple brands. In 2019, Zola also opened a pop-up shop in New York to offer one-stop in-person wedding planning and updated its digital strategy to include social media marketing. Zola aims to address common pain points of wedding planning by allowing customers to choose when gifts are delivered and even exchange products online. Instead of having to work through numerous apps and vendors, Zola simplifies wedding planning to a single app, which it regularly updates. Zola’s employees are involved in every aspect of its growth and are welcome to provide feedback and new ideas. The company supports sustainability by eliminating waste with its mostly digital products and encouraging customers to support sustainable brands for their weddings.

To be truly customer-centric, companies must be well-rounded and focus on the four key areas of customer experience: innovation, environmentalism and sustainability, employee experience and customer centricity.

These companies come from all industries across the world, showing that any company can be customer-centric with the right focus and a dedication to improving the world and the lives of their customers, employees and they impact they make on their communities.

Blake Morgan is the bestselling author of the new book The Customer Of The Future. She is a keynote speaker and customer experience futurist. To learn more sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

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