Chick-fil-A, Trader Joe's lead list of companies who make customers happiest

When it comes to getting the best customer service, just about every company out there makes the claim that they’re trying to be the best. But, realistically, only a handful of companies make the cut when it comes to really making their customers happy.

And only one gets to the rule the roost — pun intended — by clinching the #1 spot!

RELATED: 6 keys to getting great customer support every time

Chick-fil-A offers the best customer service in the nation

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is probably the most respected tally of customer service rankings out there.

Traditionally, ACSI has measured customer service in a handful of industries at a time.

So, you have ACSI rankings on grocery stores, banks and credit unions, and even car brands, to name just a few categories.

But what if there were a rundown of the best customer service across industries? There hasn't been one — until now.

At the prompting of Forbes consumer columnist Chris Elliott, ACSI crunched three years of recent data and determined a Top 20 list of companies for customer service in America.

The ACSI looked at customer satisfaction, along with consumer perceptions of service quality, value and brand loyalty to arrive at its findings.

Here’s who came out on top:

1. Chick-fil-A

Score out of 100: 86.0

2. Trader Joe’s

Score out of 100: 85.4

3. Aldi

Score out of 100: 85.0

4. Amazon

Score out of 100: 84.8

5. Lexus

Score out of 100: 84.6

Rounding out the remaining Top 10 are:

  • Costco – 84.4
  • HEB Grocery – 84.4
  • Toyota – 84.4
  • Publix – 84.3
  • Wegmans – 84.2

Clark’s take

Clark Howard thinks Chick-fil-A's appearance in the #1 spot has a lot to do with their unusual operational model.

With Chick-fil-A, the proprietor of a store is called an operator. He or she is put into business by Chick-fil-A and shares in profits for the store, but serves at the pleasure of Chick-fil-A.

"So it's a different model than a franchise or a company-owned location. It is a hybrid blend where the person is not an owner in the traditional sense," the money expert says. "But they can make a big income if they run a profitable store, and if they don't, they're out the door."

Clark calls that rare combination of entrepreneurial spirit and full operational control “a brilliant business model.” And, he says, “It is partly responsible for making them the best operation in America.”

Another factor to note behind Chick-fil-A’s success: The store doesn’t open on Sundays.

“They’re privately owned and for religious reasons they take that as a day of rest. But what they did for religious reasons is brilliant for business, because operators know they have a day off every week,” Clark says.

“I think that leads to a higher quality operation. And their sales are greater in six days than any other restaurant does in seven days.”

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