As a stickler for great customer service, I am always in search of companies and service providers that strive to provide a memorable experience. When I coach others or speak to groups, I often challenge them to create a customer experience that makes people say “wow”! If someone is going to pay you money, make them feel good! Yet, I’m always amazed at how few companies and individual professionals make this their top priority…or even a priority at all.
Back to Trader Joe’s. As I’m checking out and watching the total bill climb higher and higher, I found myself engaged in a fun conversation with the checkout clerk. She sincerely showed interest in what I had going on this weekend. In turn, I freely shared about our upcoming vacation. As we are talking, she sees that one of the sweet potatoes had broken in the bag, and the bag of flour was leaking a bit. While I would have been fine taking them home just as they were, she promptly had them replaced by another clerk as we continued our discussion. We ended up discussing kids, lack of sleep, and more. I learned she is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and that she has a sister only 14 months older than her, and how great it was growing up with a big sister so close in age.
Mind you, all of this took place in less than 4 minutes! As we talked, I began to notice a funny feeling…I realized I was having a good experience, even as I swiping my debit card to pay a lot of hard-earned money for my groceries. As I walked toward the exit, I couldn’t help but recognize that every customer at each checkout line was happily engaged in a conversation with their clerk, with smiles all around.
A good experience makes the cost less important. Driving home, I found myself thinking of how unsatisfied I felt leaving my last shopping trip to Albertsons, where the employees seem more interested in how many hours are left on their shift, and many avoid even making eye contact as they scan your items. I remembered a trip a few weeks ago to Safeway, and how discouraged I was by the indifference I could sense in every one of the employees.
Trader Joe’s understands that I will spend hundreds of dollars every month on groceries. While other grocery stores might be more convenient, Trader Joe’s recognizes that I want to spend money where I feel appreciated and can look forward a good experience. I want to be a part of a fun environment, even if only for a little bit, engaging with employees who seem to truly enjoy working there.
I know there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes to create a good experience. The key is to place this as the top priority, from the owners, to managers, to the clerk grabbing a new sack of flour for me.
Can running a successful, profitable business really be this easy? I think so.