The Building Blocks of Business and Personal Success

Posted on: 23 Aug 2010
Link: https://empoweringabc.com/2010/08/23/c-is-for-customer-experience/

The Building Blocks of Business and Personal Success

Posted on: 23 Aug 2010

C is for Customer Experience

What do Apple and Trader Joe’s have in common?

Quite a bit, surprisingly.

I just read a Fortune article about the food retailer Trader Joe’s. I’m familiar with the brand, although I’ve only visited a Trader Joe’s store once — primarily because they don’t have operations in my home state of Hawaii, nor are they in Japan where I live now.

So what do these two companies have in common aside from having their roots in California?

  1. Very loyal base of customers
  2. Interesting but narrow product line up
  3. Passionate workforce
  4. Highly secretive

Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.

1. Loyal customer base
The funny thing is that a grocery retailer hardly seems to be the type of business that can build a loyal, almost fanatical base of customers — but Trader Joe’s seems to have done just that.

How? It probably ties into points #2 and #3, but can be summed up as a different kind of customer experience. The store is warm and inviting. The staff are friendly and approachable. The products often present a unique twist on the familiar, offering a bit of an exotic flair or healthy twist. And the prices are reasonable for that extra bit of luxury.

2. Narrow product line up
The Fortune article gives the example of peanut butter. Trader Joe’s might offer 10 varieties, but a large supermarket might offer around 40.

Having too many choices can hamper the customer experience because you start to worry about small differences between all the choices and whether or not you can actually choose the right one. Too many choices increases the chance that you will choose badly and be stuck with a nearly full jar of peanut butter that you don’t care for.

The limited line up strategy is similar to the lineup of iPods I discussed in my previous blog post C is for Customer Loyalty.

Takeaway: Give customers some variety to meet different needs, but keep your products well defined to simplify the purchase decision and avoid buyer remorse.

3. Passionate workforce
I can attest to the good customer service I received at Trader Joe’s. Even though it has been 2 years since I went to a store in Los Angeles, I do remember that a store clerk dropped what he was doing and walked me over to where the chocolate covered almonds were. He even offered to open up a tub off the shelf and let me taste some — which I politely declined. But this level of customer service is rare these days, and so it really stands out in the minds of customers.

Another example given in the Fortune article is how clerks will acknowledge and reaffirm your product choices if they happen to like the same item. I had that experience also in 2008 and it was memorable. The cashier told me she too loves the dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

(I suppose you’re also seeing a trend in my shopping — 2 chocolate items.)

Why are Trader Joe’s employees so passionate about where they work? Apparently their compensation is quite good, but wages alone aren’t enough to build an engaged workforce.

I wonder if Trader Joe’s also has a culture where employees are actively encouraged to try the products they sell, and where everyone has a voice no matter what their employment level may be.

4. Highly secretive
Actually, I don’t know what the significance of this is, but both Apple and Trader Joe’s seem to be highly secretive. Maybe the added bit of mystique reinforces their appeal?

Power in providing a good experience

So what it really boils down to is that Apple and Trader Joe’s both have:

  • Well-segmented products that offer some combination of:
    1. Uniqueness
    2. Excellent quality
    3. Value
  • People who believe in the products and provide customers with a pleasurable shopping experience.
  • Products that sell themselves.
If one company could do it with computers and consumer electronics and another company could do it with food products, how can you apply these principles to your own business?
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This entry was posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2010 at 10:40 pm and is filed under Business, English. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.