) -- Every year, just in time for Black Friday, the National Retail Federation

releases a preliminary list of the top 10 retailers for customer service

. This year's list, which precedes an official ranking released every January, is based on responses from 9,374 consumers. Participants were asked in early September which retailers they felt delivered outstanding customer service each and every day. The question was open-ended, so respondents could name any retailer that came to mind.

While we won't know how the retailers specifically ranked until 2012, we do know that the list of finalists is identical to last year's top performers, which either indicates how awesome the 10 featured retailers truly are or that customer service hasn't changed all that much from year to year.

The National Retail Federation releases its list of the best retailers for customer service, just in time for Black Friday.

Read on to find out which retailers (listed in alphabetical order) are still the best in the business when it comes to customer service. It might help on

Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales


(AMZN) - Get Report

Last year's rank:


The online giant actually topped the NRF's list in 2006, the first year it made it into the top 10. Last year, it

was lauded for its wide variety of products and easy-to-navigate Web site


J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

Last year's rank:


Another retailer lauded for its extensive floor selection and wide array of online offerings, J.C. Penney has ping-ponged in and out of the top 10 since the list's inception in 2005.

Kohl's Department Stores

(KSS) - Get Report

Last year's rank:


The department store chain has been a finalist since 2009, thanks in part to its frequent power-shop discounts, but it also helps that the company introduced in-store kiosks last year that allow consumers to buy items unavailable in stores and have them shipped to their homes for free.

Land's End

Last year's rank:


Land's End first cracked the top 10 in 2006 -- the list's second year published -- and has managed to stay there without getting complacent. Last year, the apparel retailer added an online chat tool on its Web site that connects consumers with a personal shopper while perusing the online catalog. It also has a no-strings-attached return policy.

L.L. Bean

Last year's rank:


Another perennial top-customer-service list mainstay -- and a three-time No. 1 -- the outerwear retailer is known for its no-strings-attached return/exchange policy as well as its frequent gift card giveaways. The store is actually running a promotion now in which customers can get a

$10 gift card back on purchases

of $50 or more. But it also offers free shipping year-round on purchases

without a minimum amount required



Last year's rank:


A new addition on last year's list, popular online personal technology retailer Newegg was cited for its user-friendly Web site (that includes, among other things, a constantly updated list of rebates customers can apply to current and previous purchases), and its

Iron Egg Guarantee

, which entitles shoppers to free shipping, low price guarantees and an unlimited 60-day return policy.


(JWN) - Get Report

Last year's rank:


The NRF cites Nordstrom's growing multi-channel presence and great personal service as reasons why it has been a top 10 mainstay since the list's inception in 2005. It also doesn't hurt that the department store chain has a

great return policy

that puts no time limit on returns and lets consumers bring back items even if they don't have a receipt. (You can either print one out in the store if you ordered online or just provide the credit card used at the time of the purchase.)

(OSTK) - Get Report

Last year's rank:


When online retailer made the list last year, the NRF cited an ample array of products, deals and a Web site with a friendly atmosphere. The company even listened to customers when it

encountered a backlash over a short-lived name change



Last year's rank:


QVC has managed to stay in the NRF's top 10 since it first broke into the list in 2008, thanks, in part, to its generous 30-day return and easy-to-use Web site. It also doesn't hurt that it's terribly convenient to shop while watching television.


Last year's rank:


The popular online shoe retailer managed to unseat L.L. Bean (who had taken the top spot three years in row) last year largely due to its free-shipping policies. Customers can get items sent to them and returned for free. It doesn't hurt that the company lets customers return items within 365 days for a full refund.

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