I went grocery shopping yesterday after work. Normally there is nothing special about doing that. We all do it; some of us enjoy it, and some of us – not so much. Yesterday, however, was a special grocery shopping day in that it was the grand opening of the new Publix grocery store in High Point, North Carolina, just down the street from our office.
I lived in Texas for many years, where there were no Publix stores, although the Texas giant H-E-B was considerably close. However, when my father retired, he and my mom moved to Tampa, Florida and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time visiting with them the 20 years they lived there. During those visits, I went to Publix with my father on many occasions. It was always a positive, enjoyable experience.
Yesterday during my shopping experience, I saw firsthand what exceptional customer service is all about. Publix’s mission statement on the homepage of their website says it all, with the first bullet point being “Passionately focused on customer value”. Every job I have had since I was 16 years old has involved customer service. It is something important to me and something that I feel has sadly diminished rapidly throughout our country.
Upon entering the store I found it to be clean, beautiful and, of course, brand new. I was greeted at the door with welcomes and smiles – the kind of smiles that reflect genuine gratitude. There were associates at every turn down every aisle, ready to take care of any need. They were outgoing, smiling and all made direct eye contact that showed sincerity. I realize it was their grand opening and day-to-day operations will not include that much customer attention, but what an impression it made. This company obviously does a great job in recruiting and training its staff members. These staff members are also the owners of their company, as Publix is the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the U.S.
From asking the location of an item and being assisted by a knowledgeable associate, to the friendly girl who rang up my groceries, to the sweet young man who pushed my shopping cart to my car, it was a 10 out of 10 experience. I remember when assistance taking groceries to your car was normal. When this young man asked if I needed help taking the groceries to my car I replied with “no, I can handle it, thank you – his response was “but it would be my pleasure to assist you.” How do you say no to that? During our short walk he explained that he was 16, in high school and after much training, he was excited to actually be putting the training to good use. He seemed to be an exceptional young man and passionately focused on customer value. I love their mission statement!
Customer service is an attitude, not a department. No matter what industry, field or business you are in, this should hold true to all. People want to feel important and appreciated. That extra step taken to show that real care goes into how someone is treated is so very valuable. Whether you are selling clothing, flipping burgers or straightening teeth, people have choices. When you want them to choose you, you have to go above and beyond the usual steps to create something worth coming back for. I have three grocery stores very close to my office and home. Publix is a bit off my daily commute, but with the quality of products they offer, along with the atmosphere and culture that they have created in which to sell those products, I am eager to go back.