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Which are the best grocery stores for customer service (and why?)

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Grocery stores are a necessary evil of life, at least to those of us who like to have a well-stocked pantry. The good news is grocery shopping has become significantly more pleasant in recent years, as companies have tuned into the idea that high quality customer service gives them a competitive edge. Check out this list of some of the top-rated grocery stores in the country, and what sets them apart from their competition.

Trader Joe’s
This grocer, which features locations in 31 states and Washington D.C., offers an eclectic mix of unique foods and low prices. The chain also stresses customer service, with a fun shopping environment and cheerful employees. Samples abound, and employees are always standing by, ready to help customers locate their favorite products.

Wegmans
Although this chain is primarily located in upstate New York and a handful of other New England states, 80 stores make it a well-known brand in the Northeast. So does the service culture at Wegmans, with a large selection of fresh foods, a full calendar of cooking classes, and hot tea and coffee bars.

Publix
The one word used most often to describe this Southeastern chain is “immaculate.” Their commitment to providing a bright, clean shopping experience has brought this mom-and-pop store into its own with more than 1,000 stores in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. The stores also offer many special features, including a drive-through option at some locations.

Bi-Rite
This California grocery store serves its customers well with grain-fed meats and fresh produce grown right on their own farms in Sonoma. The store also sells prepared foods from their in-house kitchen that rival the cuisine at some of the top restaurants in the area. Bi-Rites commitment to the environment, as well as its customers, has gotten this tiny chain a spot on the map.

Costco
It may not be much to look at, but this warehouse chain packs in the customers for more than its low prices. Costco has a reputation for some of the best customer service in the retail industry. Why? Because Costco learned long ago that creating happy employees leads to happy customers as well.

Other Special Features
Other unique customer service features offered by some of the smaller grocery chains across the country include:

• Specialty and ethnic foods catering to a specific clientele in an area
• Outdoor barbecues featuring finger foods for hungry customers
• Wine and beer bars so customers can sip while shopping
• World-class delicatessen located right inside the grocery store
• Fresh fish, produce and meats, handpicked from local suppliers

While convenient location and low prices tend to draw shoppers to their favorite grocers, customer service plays a significant role in the process as well. It wasn’t long ago that the grocery store experience was a relatively sterile one, featuring narrow aisles lined with cans and boxes, squeaky shopping carts and impatient cashiers. Today, the experience is very different, as companies strive to create a customer experience that brings customers back into their stores every single week.

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