Publix Super Market, Inc.: A Customer Service Leader

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG296
Case Length :14 Pages
Period : 1980 -2011
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization :Publix Super Market, Inc.
Industry : Retail
Countries : USA

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"Customer satisfaction is one of the pillars which has made Publix to what it is." 1

-Ed Crenshaw, CEO of Publix Super Market, Inc., in 2011.

"You have owners running Publix - people feel a true sense of pride, they're well taken care of, and they are friendly to shoppers. This is just one of those things you can't manufacture." 2

-Ken Harris, managing director of Cannondale Associates Inc.3 in 2008.

In 2010, US-based supermarket chain Publix Super Market, Inc (Publix) topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index4 (ACSI) among supermarkets for the seventeenth consecutive year.

Since 1994, Publix had been consistently recognized as the leader in the grocery business for its excellent quality and customer service. "Offering premier customer service is strategic to all of us. It's what sets us apart from our competition. I'm proud of our associates for creating moments our customers will always remember,"5 said Todd Jones, President of Publix.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

Founded in 1930, Publix was one of the fastest-growing employee-owned supermarket chains in the US. As of 2011, it owned around 1,046 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. Its retail sales were about US$25.1 billion in 2010. Since its inception, Publix had been known for delivering excellent customer service. It gave importance to its customers and strived for complete customer satisfaction. Publix provided value to customers by offering a wide range of quality items at competitive prices, an organized shopping environment, and friendly associates. The chain's philosophy was to please customers and never knowingly disappoint them. Publix employees worked as a team and were ready to help customers regardless of their position in the company.

However, over the years, analysts had noticed a decline in the number of customers shopping at Publix. The drop was attributed to the high prices of commodities and falling levels of customer service. In 2011, Publix's ACSI score dropped by 2% to 84 points compared to a score of 86 points in the earlier year. Analysts felt that the dropping customer satisfaction levels would affect the future prospects of Publix as over the years, the chain had thrived by keeping customer experience its primary focus. "Unfortunately, Publix has declined over the years in their customer service, store policy, and the fact they don't care about their employees. George Jenkins must be spinning in his grave. This is not how Publix is advertised, but is the true reality of what is now Publix 2009. Very sad. Both customers and employees are hurt by this "new" Publix attitude,"6 complained Lucy, a customer from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Background - Next Page >>

1] "Associates & Customer Satisfaction Drive Ultimate Success for Publix",, June 2011.
2] Warren Thayer, "When Publix is so Darn Good",, August 28, 2008.
3] Headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut, Cannondale Associates is a management consulting firm.
4] The American Customer Satisfaction Index is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the US. Data from interviews with approximately 70,000 customers annually are used as inputs to measure satisfaction. Ranking is determined through customer interviews and factors such as customer expectations, perceived value, customer complaints, and customer retention. Results are released on a monthly basis with all measures reported using a 0 to 100 scale.
5] "Publix is Top Supermarket for Ten Years",, February 17, 2011.
6] "Consumer Complaints & Reviews,", August 14, 2009.

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