Whenever I conduct a customer service workshop, one of the first activities is to ask the participants “what business are you loyal to and why”? The purpose is to get everyone thinking about themselves as a customer and what makes them go back repeatedly to a business. Inevitably, whenever I am teaching in Florida, one of the attendees will say they are loyal to Publix. When prompted to explain why they are loyal to them, the answers are always the same: “because they are clean, friendly, helpful, willing to walk you to the product vs. point to a lane, follow through on requests, act as if they really care about me”.
This doesn’t happen once or twice, this happens in every workshop, every time. Publix has a culture of customer service that starts with their logo: Publix – Where Shopping is a Pleasure. But, it doesn’t stop with just the slogan, it weaves itself throughout their entire operation. Every employee is made to feel the image and reputation of Publix is on his shoulders in every customer interaction.
Recently, I noticed a poster displayed in an employee area that said “My Publix, My Part.” When I asked about it, the manager of the store explained that it was a simple recognition program to remind employees of their vital role in the customer experience. Every employee contributes to making Publix a great experience, whether you are in a customer-facing role such as cashier, bagger, pharmaceutical staff or in a support role such as butcher, baker, office administrator, etc. If a customer comments on an employee or a co-worker comments on another co-worker for their excellent service to them, a card is given to the acknowledged employee and a card is put in a bowl for a monthly drawing. The award for the monthly drawing is not of huge monetary value, but something to recognize the value of all those names in the bowl for doing their “Part.”
What a great way to reinforce that every employee is important. When employees see how they fit into the bigger picture of the organization and realize that their behavior and attitude really does make a difference in the whole customer experience, they become more engaged in their work. They are proud to be associated with something bigger than their specific job task and they understand why their task is so important.
What about your organization? Is it part of your on-boarding process to tell employees how their job fits into the big picture? When was the last time the leadership reminded employees of the value they play in the success of the organization? When was the last time leadership thanked employees for upholding the name, image, and reputation of the organization? A culture is created when everyone knows the common vision and does their part while working together towards the same destination. For Publix, that destination is to make shopping experience a pleasure for their customers.