The Lost Art of Customer Service

Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us and will be answered in the order received.

Hmmm, I sure don’t feel important. Whatever happened to friendly customer service? What if there was a company whose mission was to super-serve their customers?

Welcome to Trader Joe’s, who’s disrupting the grocery business – with kindness.

They’ve earned a reputation for making shopping a positive experience. Trader Joe’s feels like a neighborhood grocery store where dedicated employees drop everything to help you. Trader Joe’s is proving that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and lunch.

Trader Joe’s does almost no advertising and their largest marketing expense is in-store sampling. They are so proud of their quality foods, they can’t wait for you to try them. Unlike the mega-chains, Trader Joe’s stores are smaller by design, and offer a limited selection of products. Turns out that shoppers don’t want to choose from 9 brands of olives. There’s no automated checkout, no rewards card, no coupons and no gimmicks.

Oh, and Trader Joe’s delivers the highest sales per square foot in the grocery industry. With stores in 42 states, the company is so popular that they could grow faster – but choose not to.

So, what’s their secret?

Here’s my take. Trader Joe’s offers a valuable lesson for any industry that’s been commoditized. Faceless, impersonal banks and airlines might take a page from their playbook. And it starts with hiring nice people who’ll bend over backwards to help customers. This is the essence of Trader Joe’s philosophy. It’s who they are. Sure, they could compromise their values, but Trader Joe’s won’t back down.

Tom Petty would be so proud.


Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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