Every grocery store has its own strengths and weaknesses: Whole Foods is fancy, Aldi is super inexpensive, and Costco will sell you four-and-a-half pounds of its Kirkland-branded version of Nutella for $7.99. But according to a report on customer satisfaction in the U.S., the highest-ranked grocery store in the country is Publix.
Publix is a Southern supermarket chain. It only has locations in six states —Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee — but people love it. A Florida high school actually made a musical about Publix and its beloved founder, George Jenkins. That’s true love.
Publix makes the ultimate Southern wedding cake. Its fried chicken and subs are deeply beloved, and it’s also known for having extraordinarily friendly, helpful employees. If you go anywhere in the South, people will tell you that you have to see Publix, and that ardor is definitely reflected in Publix’s customer satisfaction scores.
According to the latest retail report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which reports on how satisfied customers are with their retail services, Publix is the highest-rated company in the entire grocery category. Its customer satisfaction score increased two points to 86 percent this year, just beating out last year’s winner, the beloved Trader Joe’s, which scored an 86 last year but dropped to a still-very-impressive 85 in 2017.
Of course, people still love Trader Joe’s.
“While Trader Joe’s was unable to sustain its record-high score from last year, customer satisfaction with the grocer is still extremely high for a brick-and-mortar retailer,” said David Van Amburg, managing director of ACSI.
According to ACSI, most grocery stores have been improving their customer satisfaction scores dramatically in recent years. Thirteen of the 22 grocery stores included in the index had higher scores in 2017 than in 2016. And a big part of that increase appears to be that stores have been paying a lot more attention to customer service, because customer service is one area where they can still come out ahead of Amazon.
“Amazon is nearly inescapable in retail right now,” said David Van Amburg, managing director of ACSI, who called the online retailer “the giant in the room.”
Of course, Amazon is in the grocery business too, now that it’s acquired Whole Foods. This year Whole Foods scored 81 percent on the ACSI’s customer satisfaction index, which is the same score it had last year. The changes Amazon has been making could impact Whole Foods’ ranking significantly in next year’s report, but it’ll be difficult to improve on Publix’s renowned customer service and friendly employees — not to mention the fried chicken.