CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (11/29/07)--Credit unions were the only non-retailer brand in the top 10 spots in a new Forrester Research's 2007 Customer Experience Survey. "A credit union" clocked in as the No. 5 brand, sharing the limelight with Costco, Borders and Barnes & Noble. The Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester asked nearly 5,000 consumers about their interactions with 112 firms in nine industries. Consumers weighed in on the usefulness, usability and enjoyability of those experiences, said Forrester (ResearchRecap Nov. 28). Retailers dominated the survey's top 10 spots, while the bottom 10 included communications companies, healthcare providers--and banks. The rise of digital social media such as blogs, MySpace and Facebook means consumers are talking about brands and the quality of their services more than ever, said Forrester (Brandweek.com Nov. 28). These are good news for retailers that work at building relationships with consumers, but it's a hazard for companies that haven't, like Sprint, Charter Communications and Citibank. The Internet allows consumers to find out more about how brands treat their customers and makes it easier for consumers to switch providers, said Bruce Temkin, vice president/principal analyst at Forrester. In the past, when consumers had a bad customer experience, they told 10 people. Today, they can tell 10,000 people, he said. Retailers score high because they understand better the relationship between the customer's experience and sales, Temkin said. However, those who have low rankings either occupy a monopoly across various markets or, like banks, are too focused on a merger-and-acquisition business strategies to address consumer service-related issues. Credit unions and Borders bookstore came in first for "ease of use." Thirty-three firms received ratings of "excellent" in this category. Two organizations received "very poor" ratings: Charter Communications (in the TV and Internet category) and Medicaid. Another 10 companies were ranked as "poor." Of the 12 firms with "poor" or "very poor" ratings, eight were healthcare insurers. Costco and Sam's Club were leaders in "usefulness." Forty firms received a rating of excellent for usefulness. Although none received a "very poor" rating, three brands--Charter Communications, Medicaid and Citibank--were rated by consumers as "poor." No firm received an excellent rating in the "enjoyability" category, and 40 were rated "very poor," said Forrester. Of the 16 firms with "good" ratings, Borders, Old Navy and Citizens Bank were the highest ranked. Cablevision/Interactive Optimum and Charter Communications were the bottom feeders.