What is a good customer experience worth to you?

What if you had a customer experience that was so powerful you could be successful without advertising or a social media presence?

traderjoesTrader Joes is a specialty grocery store that moved into the Richmond market a couple of years ago. From the moment the local press indicated the company was going to open a store here in town, there was a lot of excitement. Seriously, you can’t believe the reputation this store has accumulated.

My wife had bemoaned the lack of a store in this area for years. Why would anyone be excited about a grocery store?

The quick answer is Trader Joes is not just any grocery store. They are a specialty store with a personality. My wife and I look forward to our weekly trips to the store; you heard right, we actually enjoy going there. Why?

There are several reasons. First, they have terrific products, many of the items in the store are their own private label brands. The products taste good and are often healthy too. Well mostly healthy, we really like their chocolate sea salt treats.

The people are helpful, you get the feeling they actually like working there. It’s a fun and kind of quirky atmosphere. You know who the managers are because they wear Hawaiian shirts and the employees wear t-shirts; however, you get the feeling everyone is allowed to be himself or herself.

If you appear to be searching for an item, someone will probably ask if they can help you. If you ask about an item that appears to be out of stock, someone will offer to check to make sure. Once in a while we will have a question about a product, there have been instances where an employee will open the product and offer a sample right there.

It’s not unusual to have several different stations offering free samples of products. The person serving is usually very knowledgeable about the ingredients and often can offer serving suggestions.

Although this isn’t the case in every store, ours offers a great selection of wines at a very reasonable price. There have been instances where we didn’t like an item or there was a defect, in all cases we were immediately given refunds.

The store closes at 9:00pm but they will allow you to enter the store until closing time and once the store is closed, you don’t feel as though they are trying to throw you out. How many times have you been in a store or a gym and narrowly escaped injury as the employees fled the scene at closing time?

So how is it in this day and age of hyper-connected consumers and marketing everywhere, a store can thrive with a printed flyer of ads,traderjoes2 no advertising and no social media presence, when their competition uses all of these?

I believe it’s value and a great customer experience. Trader Joes has created a culture that allows their people to express themselves in a way that delivers a consistent experience. You get the feeling they hire right, train right and most important all work together for the benefit of the customer. As a customer when I leave the store and they tell me “Thank you for shopping with us,” I actually think they mean it.

Now could they do more with a presence in other marketing channels? Probably so; however, it is clear that if you have a great value proposition and your employees are aligned to deliver a great experience, you can drive a profitable business with the best marketing of all ~ really happy customers spreading your message through word of mouth.