Millie’s Cookies, Costa, Greggs, TGI Fridays, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nando’s, Krispy Kreme,  Pizza Hut and Pizza Express have been named in Nunwood’s top 100 companies for customer experience in its 2014 analysis.

The top 100 from the Nunwood agency, which is based on a survey of 7,500 customers, assessing more than 250 brands, placed US grown brands Millie’s Cookies at 55, down from 50 in 2013.

The report includes brands from a broad reach of UK companies, First Direct topped the poll which found customer expectations are consequently set high for every brand, regardless of sector.

Costa, Greggs, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nando’s and Pizza Express have all climbed from last year’s top 100. TGI Friday’s, Krispy Kreme and Pizza Hut have all slid but remained within the top brands for 2014.

The Customer Experience Excellence Centre analysis provides insight into customer service practices from a range of UK brands that achieve excellence through six categories – or Pillars – of personalisation, expectation, resolution, integrity, empathy and time & effort.

Nunwood’s said: “The Six Pillars are again shown to be the universal characteristics of excellence. Brands that successfully focus on all six create the best customer relationships and achieve the strongest commercial returns. They back this understanding with the right investments in culture. A superior employee experience is a major theme across the top 10, something that rests upon strong executive leadership and ensuring HR colleagues are equal partners in creating customer experiences.”

It found that brands that place high emphasis on personalisation improves customer advocacy and increases loyalty. In the survey, customers highly valued being friendly and polite, understanding specific customer needs, only offering relevant products and services, treating customers as individuals and knowing customers as individuals.

To manage customers’ expectations, survey respondents expect companies to treat customers with respect, follow through on promises, keep the customer informed at all times, delvier consistency and show genuine appreciation to customers.

Meanwhile companies which highly value staff ranked highly among the top brands. Those which have superior cultures and employees who are exceptionally proud of the brand and their job such as John Lewis, Lush First Direct and Nationwide were highly placed.

Nunwood’s said “Their culture plays this pivotal role in creating an outstanding customer experience and they value that same culture first and foremost. In a very real sense, employees come first and customers come second. These companies recognise that value is created at the interface between employee and customer. They know that in order to be exceptional, something magical has to occur.”