Customer Service Models – Learn from Publix

How To Create A Great Customer Service Model – Learn from Publix

Since 1930, Publix has grown from a single store to a large employee-owned, American supermarket chain. Publix has flourished and been consistently placed in most admired companies not only because of excellent customer service but also because of their concern for their employees and community. 

Top 10 Best Customer Service Companies in 2020

  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Neiman Marcus
  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • Edward Jones    
  • Chick-fil-A
  • L.L.Bean
  • National Storage Affiliates
  • Embassy Suites
  • Publix
  • Beau Coup

There are a lot of big names on the list by Newsweek and Statista Inc, but one of the most consistent contenders, on a year-on-year basis, is Publix. Publix, in a whopping 90 years of running, has the unique distinction of being completely employee-owned. This means that every shareholder in the company is a cashier, a bagger, or even a baker. In fact, the current President of Publix, Todd Jones was a bagger who eventually rose up the ranks to become President.

What is The Publix Customer Experience?

Publix sets the standard for top class customer service experience. The minute you walk into a Publix store, you’d find an associate welcoming you with a smile on his face. You’d also have a plethora of associates waiting to help you find exactly what you are looking for. 

You may say ‘Kraft Mayonnaise’ and expect them to not just tell you where the food aisle is, but also find you a cart, put the Kraft bottle in, and wheel it to you. As you bag your groceries and walk to your car, also expect the Publix bagger to take the bags and walk with you to the car. These are some small ways the Publix employees are famous for going the extra mile to take care of their customers’ needs.  

Publix – Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed

Todd Jones, the President, proudly says – “We believe there are three ways to differentiate: service, quality, and price. We make service our number one, then quality, then price.”

When most companies struggle to hit 60, Publix received an approval score of 83 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Through word of mouth – Publix customers themselves are living advertisements for the company. Here are some examples of good customer service speaking for itself – 

While Walmart was painting the town red with their ‘Nothing can beat our price’ attitude, Publix being way ahead of its time, decided to take the giant head-on with its good customer service culture instead. Another example of their exceptional customer service principles is their strong customer satisfaction policy. They value customer feedback and here is a glimpse into their policy – 

“We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon request.”

Great Service Begins From Within

According to the Wall Street Journal article on Publix, there was not a single employee in Publix who had not started off doing menial jobs within the organization.

“First, take care of your customers.  Second, take care of your associates. They will in turn take care of your customers.”

– George.W.Jenkins, Founder – Publix

A company known for great customer service will always take care of its employees well, who in turn will extend that happiness into loyal customers. Here is a tweet from 2018 –

Publix has famously never laid off an employee. Ed Crenshaw who retired as the CEO in 2016, steered Publix Super Markets out of the recession and into new territories, did not lay off a single person but instead opened 36 new stores in 2009, hiring over 27,000 new associates to serve customers. They did so by cutting costs by launching Publix Essentials, a program that lowered costs by 20%.

As a company policy, they not only give stock to each and every employee to convert them into a shareholder but actively ensure that no employee ever gets treated badly either.

Conclusion

Publix has paved the way for exceptional customer service by instilling strong principles in their employees to focus on customer satisfaction over price and quality. With thousands of customer service stories from happy customers on social media, I’m sure there is a lesson to learn here for everyone on how high-quality customer support can lead to customer loyalty and business success.

Eeshita Srivastava

Product Team at HappyFox. I like SaaS products, hikes, and Bon Iver.