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KNOXVILLE — A specialty clothing store, a health and beauty products store, a sporting goods store, a fashion store and a consumer electronics store were honored Wednesday for quality customer service, based on UT students’ perceptions.

The awards were part of a survey project done by students in a customer service course offered through the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The store winners were:

* Specialty clothing — J.Crew
* Health and beauty products — Sephora
* Sporting goods — Blue Ridge Outdoor
* Overall fashion products — J.C. Penney
* Consumer electronics — Apple

Students in this junior-level course identified a group of businesses frequented by students in each of the five categories and then rated them on 10 aspects of customer service — layouts and visual organization, a wide assortment of goods, friendly and knowledgeable employees, cleanliness of store, ease of transactions, return policy, coupons and discounts, greeting at the door, cleanliness of dressing rooms (if applicable) and overall customer service.

During the fall semester, each student in the class visited 25 businesses and encouraged their acquaintances to do the same. They then completed surveys rating the businesses — “poor,” “average,” “good,” “great” or “fantastic” — on each aspect of customer service.

The top-rated business in each category was honored with a Service Experts Customer Service Award. Representatives from the winning businesses were on hand Wednesday to accept their awards.

“This project — which we did the first time last semester with restaurants and bars — really brings home our classroom lessons about customer service,” Professor Ann Fairhurst said. “From the businesses’ standpoint, these awards are significant because students are a sizable consumer population in Knoxville.”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,