If its legions of devoted fans aren’t enough to convince you, two separate surveys put one grocery store at the top of their lists when it comes to customer satisfaction. But Publix is used to that kind of thing.

“Publix reigns when it comes to customer satisfaction,” reports the American Customer Satisfaction Index. With a score of 86 out of 100, the Florida-based supermarket tops the group’s list – for the 19th year in a row. It’s six points ahead of Whole Foods, with Kroger and Winn-Dixie not far behind.

Meanwhile, the Temkin Group has come out with its own list of companies that excel at “customer experience”. The list is not limited to grocery stores, but Publix is still tops there, too. Trader Joe’s is the runner up, followed by Aldi and non-grocery stores like Chick-fil-A, Sam’s Club and Amazon.com.

So what is it about Publix? Temkin says Publix excels in both the “functional” and “emotional” – customers report they accomplish what they need to at Publix, and they feel great about shopping there too. The store also prides itself on being “coupon-friendly”, even running ads to that effect, highlighting the facts that it has plentiful store coupons, accepts competitor coupons, offers double coupons in many locations and allows overage. Other companies are perceived as not quite so friendly in comparison – US Airways, Time Warner Cable and Days Inn ranked dead last on the list of 266 companies. Walmart is roughly in the middle, at #100.


ACSI explains its own findings in some more depth. “Grocery chains continue to offset rising prices with improved quality of service, expanded merchandise selections, and better store layouts,” its report reads. Publix, Whole Foods and, to a lesser extent, Trader Joe’s, are better known for their quality and selection than their low regular prices. But that, says the ACSI, is precisely the point. “Even in a strapped economy, focusing primarily on discounting is not sufficient to create high levels of customer satisfaction,” it concludes.

Walmart, it should be noted, is at the bottom of its customer-satisfaction list. “Low prices can create short-term gains in customer satisfaction as consumers look for the best deals,” the ACSI says, “but for the strategy to work over the long term, any business that tries it should make certain that it has the cost advantages to pull it off.”

Both surveys come a month after Publix was named one of the most “Socially Devoted U.S. Brands on Facebook”, and weeks after thousands of eager followers hailed the chain’s arrival on Twitter (read: “Facebook’s Top Grocery Store Takes on Twitter”). So Publix devotees don’t just like shopping at their favorite grocery store, they like interacting with it too.

To be fair, though, Walmart has 27 million Facebook fans, to Publix’s nearly 1.5 million. So while the surveys suggest that Walmart shoppers don’t like everything about the store, they do at least “like” it online more than they “like” Publix.

But that could be only because Facebook doesn’t have a “love” button.

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