I had a couple of people send over links to the new Forbes article that talks about how Publix is winning the grocer war. Basically the article focuses on what we all know...Publix customer service really does make a difference!
What I loved reading is that Forbes notes that Publix is the most profitable grocery chain in the nation. Their 2012 net margins of 5.6% beats out Walmart's 2012 net margin of 3.8% and Kroger's 2012 net margin of 1.6%. How cool is that? I think most people would agree that Publix has the cleanest stores, best customer service and highest quality products. All of that and they are still profitable - brilliant!
For me, their customer service means more than anything. My time and money are both very valuable and the last thing I want to do is waste either. It's very rare today to get good customer service at any type of retail establishments. I can't tell you how many times I have bought shoes, clothing, electronics and such and the cashier never even bothered to look up, much less smile or greet me. Heck, the other day I was buying new socks for my boys and the cashier never even looked at me. Instead she was too busy conversing with another employee about various aspects of her love life. She dropped some of my change, said oops then quickly turned to finish her conversation. I looked at my husband in awe. I made a point to loudly say - "Thanks, I hope you have a great day." You know, I was not shocked by the fact she didn't hear me.
Now, don't get me wrong I am not asking that stores roll out a red carpet and greet me with confetti. However, common courtesy and friendliness sure do go a long way. I work very hard for my money and want to make sure I am getting value for that money...value in the product and in my experience!
I can still remember one of my final visits to Wallyworld. You guys know I have a love for hummus. Well, many moons ago, I found a recipe and wanted to give it a try. The recipe called for tahini. I had no idea where to begin looking for this sesame paste that I had never bought before. I looked for a few minutes then went over to an employee who was standing at a podium type thing at the front of the store. I asked her where I might find the tahini that I needed for my recipe. I have to note that she looked less than pleased to have been working that day. I asked her where I might find the item and was appalled at how this woman treated me. She had no idea where to find the item and the few suggestions she had I had already checked. She was not pleased that I didn't walk away after her ideas were exhausted. I politely asked if she could find someone to help me since I really needed this ingredient for my recipe. I suggested maybe she could call someone on her walky talky who might be able to assist me. Little did I know that would incur an insult with her final suggestion that if I needed more help I'd need to go stand in line at the customer service. I looked over at the line and asked her if she was really suggesting that I stand in a line that had 20+ people miserable standing for returns. Her reply was...."You can stand in line or just go somewhere else." So you know what...I left my cart with her and walked out the door. That was the last time I ever went there shopping for groceries. (I did have to run in once to buy socks for my son on the way to a wedding but it literally was my only option in the area or I would never have given them another dollar after my tahini fun--tee hee!)
Let me tell you about a similar experience recently at Publix. I was in Alabama visiting my husband's family and needed some little juice glasses. We were on our way back from the beach and had to stop by Publix to get my husband's father's birthday cake so I decided to see if maybe I could kill two birds with one stone. I was exhausted and was honestly embarrassed to be in the store...after a long day at the beach I know I looked and likely smelled terrible! After grabbing the cake I kinda stood looking at the signs trying to determine which aisle might be my best bet to look for those juice glasses. An employee approached me and asked me if I needed help. I explained to her what I was looking for and she said that they may be in one of several spots and proceeded to walk me to 4 or 5 different aisles to show me all the options I had to choose from. At one point I felt bad about her taking so much time with me and said she could just tell me the aisle number - her response...."No, It's my pleasure!" I kinda giggled and said..."You know, I Heart Publix!"
My store is awesome - I know most of the people there. They go out of their way to be kind, helpful and just downright friendly. What makes me love Publix even more is that I can go into a store where I am not a "regular", no makeup, sweaty and likely stinky and they are still as helpful and friendly as ever!
I really wish more companies would follow Publix in their efforts to be customer service oriented. I wish they'd realize that consumers value things other than super cheap products. They might also keep in mind that we remember the type of service we get at their stores. My Wallyword visit I described was years ago and I still have not forgotten that miserable shopping trip!