Customer satisfaction is at the heart of every great company, no matter how big or how small. But when it comes to a company that's publicly traded, great customer satisfaction can show up in the stock price as well.
Companies that focus on customer experience are able to separate themselves from the pack, said Kevin Quigg, Chief Strategist, at ACSI Funds. "This focus allows them to separate from their competition, innovate more quickly and even enter new markets leveraging their customer credibility."
The American Customer Satisfaction Index Home (which ACSI Funds utilizes) is the country's "only cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction." It effectively measures how happy customers are with the various companies they interact with and puts a score on them, while comparing them to other companies in their industry.
ACSI Funds, which has $20 million in assets under management, tracks these changes, utilizing ETFs to let investors find some of the companies who are obsessive (or in the words of Jeff Bezos, a "singular focus") when it comes to customer satisfaction.
While most companies want to have a good customer experience, not all of them do and the ACSI tracks that as well.
Certain areas of the economy, like cable providers or some airline companies, are prone to having bad customer satisfaction scores for a number of reasons, Quigg said. It could be high prices, not being flexible, automated customer service, unpleasant staff or any number of reasons, resulting in low scores.
Here are five of America's most loved companies and three of its most hated, according to the ACSI.
"The thing people questioned recently about Costco was the membership price increase, but people didn't mind it," Quigg said. "A premium to the service makes the shopping experience more beneficial and ultimately, the customer is happier."
JetBlue (JBLU) , known for its low fares and great customer service, dominates the airline industry, getting a customer satisfaction score of 82, for one simple reason -- it prioritizes customer service.
"JetBlue owns the gate-to-gate experience," Quigg said. "They understand value and JetBlue does the best job of balancing experience and price."
Quigg added that compared to other airlines, JetBlue knows what its customers are looking for.
"United is more of a full service airline. When you fly United (UAL) compared to JetBlue, you expect it to cost more, but the experience is expected to increase as well. Often times United has come up short in the experience."
Amazon (AMZN) may be busy worrying about how it will integrate its proposed transaction to buy Whole Foods (WFM) , but the company's North Star has always been one thing -- the customer above all else.
Getting a customer satisfaction score of 86, Quigg noted that Amazon is among the most loved tech companies in the U.S.
"They have cross revenue streams, as they've gone from selling books to selling goods and content," Quigg said. "They've embedded themselves in your life and as they've done so, they've given you a good feeling for the company and are able to generate more forgiveness when something goes wrong."
Known for its iconic devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac, Apple is able to keep people happy buying its high-priced devices by focusing on delivering high-quality experiences that others can't match.
"This is a company that started in the PC space and then got into music, phones and is now getting into content with Apple TV," Quigg said. "They're reaching the audience on several front and like Amazon, they deliver quality goods. They've done a really good job."
Home Depot (HD) shares have experienced a resurgence in recent years, as the housing market has taken off and people are putting money into their homes, both old and new.
"Home Depot has not been a perennial leader in their space, but over time, they've increased their experience score by a couple of points," Quigg noted. "This year, they surpassed Lowe's and the stock has shown it. There is no reason to think they won't grow because customer satisfaction translates to market share."
Spirit Airlines (SAVE) is the go-to airline when it comes to flying on a budget, but that doesn't necessarily mean its customers are happy.
"Spirit has terrible customer satisfaction,"Quigg said, noting its customer score is a lowly 61. "There are people who are willing to pay less and get less, but with airlines you have a voice. They will still come up in searches, but if you're comparing the experience you get with JetBlue, it's not good for Spirit."
Most Americans hate their cable companies and with good reason -- terrible customer service, high prices and limited offerings. All of that is a recipe for terrible customer satisfaction scores for companies such as Comcast (CMCSA) .
"The cable industry is sort of like Soviet Russia -- it's not monopolistic, but there are no real choices," Quigg said. "As soon as customers were able to get choice via Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, cable companies were almost inevitably going to see a negative impact."
Comcast's customer satisfaction score is 58 according to ACSI.
Comcast has tried to assuage some of those fears, improving its user interface, letting YouTube and Netflix on its set-top boxes and making it easier to access content, but that hasn't shown up in its customer satisfaction scores yet.