Publix, Office Depot, Nordstrom lead in satisfying customers

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Checkout lanes at Publix. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

Checkout lanes at Publix. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

When it comes to giving customers what they want, Publix leads among supermarkets, Office Depot among specialty retailers and Nordstrom among department and discount stores, according to the quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The report gauges customer satisfaction with 44 companies in the following industries: supermarkets; department and discount stores; specialty retail stores; health and personal care (drug) stores; gasoline service stations; and Internet retail, brokerage, and travel.

The businesses on top strike the right balance between quality and value, according to ACSI researchers. On a scale of 0 to 100, Publix received a top score of 86 among supermarkets in the fourth quarter 2012, followed by Whole Foods (80), Kroger (79) and Winn-Dixie (78).

“Low price inflation for food products in 2012, combined with better service, product selection and store layouts, yields success in the form of enhanced customer satisfaction for supermarkets,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder,  in a statement on the findings. Wal-Mart was in last place with a 72, “which suggests that even in a strapped economy, low prices alone are not enough to make customers happy,” the study said.

Downsizing its stores and improving service helped Office Depot lead among specialty retailers. The retailer handily beat No. 2 Staples and No. 3 OfficeMax. It remains to be seen whether the planned merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax will affect customer service. ACSI says mergers tend to have a negative effect on service. Other findings:

*Among department and discount retailers, Nordstrom followed by Target, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney.

*Rite Aid took the top spot among health and personal care (drug) stores, followed by Walgreens and CVS.

*Among online retailers, Amazon.com remained the leader, followed by Newegg, eBay and Overstock.

*Among online brokerage firms, Fidelity led, followed by Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade.

* Among online travel businesses, Expedia and Orbitz tied for first, followed by Travelocity and Priceline.

18 comments Add your comment

walabama

February 28th, 2013
3:29 pm

no way publix is better than Kroger.

John

February 28th, 2013
5:16 pm

walabama, Customer service is where it’s at with Publix. Kroger’s prices are better, however.

drew

February 28th, 2013
7:18 pm

Yup..,Publix is waaaayy better than Kroger for customer service. Never seen so many employees (at Kroger) with attitude.

Atlantaphotog

February 28th, 2013
10:43 pm

Costco should be on the list, and it should be near the top. Very very good customer service and trained employees who can actually answer your questions about things the warehouse carries. I’ve even bought things there that soon after went on a sale and got a rebate card in the mail from them before I even had a chance to go to the store to get a refund. They also now demand that manufacturers give two year warranties on the TVs and Computers they sell at no extra charge. You don’t find that *anywhere* now. I certainly wouldn’t put my local Powder Springs Publix on that list… I just had bread I bought there get mold on it days before the expire date, and a total of FOUR times I’ve gone there and found expired dairy products on their shelves… one time finding milk that was nearly TWO WEEKS expired still on the shelf. Hardly thinking about the customer at that location, at least. No thanks, I now drive to Kroger.

rbd

February 28th, 2013
11:11 pm

Publix is the best, my husband was in a wheelchair for two months, and whenever we would go to Publix, the employees were always there to help us. They would always ask how he was, wish him well, help me get him and the groceries to the car, help me get the wheelchair into the back of his SUV. We had a completely different experience at Kroger. No one offered any assistance. Even now, employees at Publix will see him and ask how he is and tell him how happy they are to see him up and walking.

The Bobster

February 28th, 2013
11:47 pm

Love Publix. I don’t have to deal with the customer loyalty card BS. And they don’t ask for my ID when I buy wine ( I am 65 years old). Great employees.

Cruzin

March 1st, 2013
6:08 am

My wife and I gave up on Kroger. They have poor service and managers with bad attitudes. We were treated like criminals when they made a mistake and left groceries out of our bag. We decided, no more Kroger!

A

March 1st, 2013
7:25 am

Totally agree with Publix. I’ve never seen a surly employee or one with attitude there. I encountered that at Kroger once (a deli counter employee who started arguing with me about how much I had asked for!) and have never been back. Kroger may have lower prices, but I’d rather go somewhere where the employees say hi, ask if you need help finding anything, and generally make you feel like you’re welcome there.

Ivvy

March 1st, 2013
9:33 am

I sure do miss Harris Teeter, I shop there whenever I go to Charlotte, they have excellent customer service.

Funkisha

March 1st, 2013
12:19 pm

The really great companies like Publix, Chick-fil-A, and QuickTrip all have one thing in common, they’re not publicly traded.

Kroger not only is publicly traded but its employees are unionized and it shows in their surly, resentful attitudes.

David

March 1st, 2013
2:18 pm

Office Depot is HORRIBLE! Associates treated like crap, and are underpaid…The are Staples best friend. Depot has been sued by many municipalities and lost all of them..DFC

Lola

March 1st, 2013
4:02 pm

I agree totally with the poll; Publix has the best customer service. I’ve been to numerous Publix locations and never encountered a bad exper. Kroger & Walmart need to be tied (at the very bottom). I dread going to either one.once I leave their stores I walk out with a bad taste in mouth – grossed out by the lack of service &bad attitudes. They refuse to pick up certian items (case of sodas for an example), tells me to lift them and put them inthe cart. Not only that, they give give off coyness/crudeness because you got in their line.

Lynda

March 4th, 2013
11:09 am

Not only does Publix have better customer service, but they have a better selection of products. Not only that, but if you want something they don’t normally stock, they’ll order it for you. I’d rather pay slightly higher prices to get better selection and service.

Ed Armstrong

March 4th, 2013
11:25 am

If you want to include businesses when traveling, Love,s on many interstates has the best and most helpful employees I have seen anywhere.

karol

March 4th, 2013
11:50 pm

Publix is absolutely the best !!! I have contacted the company to commend them for their exceptionally helpful and polite employees I have encountered in Florida and Atlanta. And it happens every day – they walk you to the appropriate aisle and show you exactly where things are, and if you need assistance to take your purchases to the car, they are willing to assist there too. Love Publix.

Scott

March 5th, 2013
3:32 pm

It is about time that Office Depot is getting the Kudos it deserves for the Customer Service they provide. Thye help you right at the door and truely care and listen to you…GREAT JOB OFFICE DEPOT!!!!

Robert

March 5th, 2013
7:00 pm

Publix customer service is wonderful, employees are polite, professional, and willing to help. Almost everytime I visit Kroger, either the cashier or bagger are talking to each other about going to lunch, break, or when they are going to get off work.

RGB

March 7th, 2013
11:26 am

The Kroger vs. Publix aspect is interesting in that Kroger employees are unionized (look for the union sticker on the doors) while Publix employees own a piece of their company. As evidenced by the comments here, it makes a difference.

I shop both stores, and at my Kroger they often have a “manager” stand (in the way of customers) in the aisle to apparently observe the efficiency of the checkout lanes. On some occasions, customers would benefit from having another available lane, but nothing happens. Kroger could remove the “observer” who does nothing and put him/her behind one of the registers. I’ve never seen this individual open a new lane or do anything to expedite the checkout process.

And until Kroger makes a serious effort to stock good meats and seafood, they’ll never earn a major share of my business. Their produce, which was too-often spoiled, has improved.

Publix has clean stores with nice employees and fresh products. It must be difficult to emulate…