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Behind the Awards

So how did Fast Company choose the winners of in its annual Customers First Awards? It all started with a pool of nearly 100 companies that were nominated by our advisory panel and Fast Company's editors. After weeks of research by a team of reporters into the organizations that had the most innovative practices and that were most frequently named, we settled on 15 to form our list of finalists. Those companies were then placed on an online survey we used to get customers' input on our finalists. We asked respondents to rate our finalists in four key areas: overall satisfaction, customer service, whether they'd do business with the company again, and whether they'd recommend the brand to others. Those four scores were then tallied together to determine the category winners, with the satisfaction score receiving the least weight and the recommend score receiving the highest.

The total scores:

Company Final Score
High-Tech Achiever
Netflix 88.28
Panera Bread 79.08
Talbots 76.6
Employee Innovator
USAA 87.99
Zappos.com 86.24
Whole Foods Market 84.39
Profitable Player
Kiehl's 82.3
Virgin Atlantic 78.79
Whole Foods Market 84.39
Leading Listener
Cabela's 86.08
W Hotels 80.73
Intuit 72.9
Customer-Centered Leader
Build-A-Bear 86.32
Craig's List 80.83
Travelocity 70.81

Our survey results were audited by ForeSee Results, which applies the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a leading indicator of financial performance driven by customer satisfaction that quantifies satisfaction on the Web and predicts future behavior. ForeSee Results has administered more than 70 million online surveys across 24 industries, helping companies scientifically measure and manage customer satisfaction. While the ACSI is based on a random sample, our survey was presented primarily to Fast Company newsletter and Web site readers and to online panel registrants of FGI Research. More than 1700 respondents answered our survey, casting more than 5300 votes.

See the full 2005 Customers First Awards.