What healthcare providers can learn from Trader Joe’s

What healthcare providers can learn from Trader Joe’s

How can your customers love you if you don’t love them?  Hint: Experience matters.

I went for my annual physical the other day (everything’s good), followed by a stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home.

Walking into the doctor’s office, I was acknowledged (can’t really say greeted) by someone who barely looked up from her computer screen. She then asked in rapid fire succession my name, if my insurance had changed and if I filled out my pre-exam paperwork. She then instructed me to have a seat (didn’t say please) in the waiting room.

Twenty minutes later, I was shown into the examining room, asked to put on my gown (don’t forget to tie from the back), and told a nurse would be with me shortly to take some information prior to my exam. Because it’s cold (maybe 60 degrees) and the magazines are out-of-date, I actually weigh myself and set the height bar (to keep moving).

Flash forward about an hour. I walk into Trader Joe’s and am greeted by an employee who says “how are you, thanks for shopping at Trader Joe’s.” He then offers me a cookie (funny timing, right after my physical). With cookie in hand, I grab a sample cup of coffee. After walking around for a couple minutes, all five senses fully engaged, I ask an employee where a certain item is in the store. Instead of telling me where it is, he walks me over. You get the idea.

It’s amazing that if Trader Joe’s, roughly an $8 billion company with 340+ stores can treat me like a neighbor — that the physician practice that I’ve been going to for years, can’t do the same.

My advice to healthcare providers, start thinking and acting like Trader Joe’s. Because they realize that customer service and customer support are marketing. And they love their customers.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment as an opportunity to move customers, brands and businesses upward to a new destination.

11 thoughts on “What healthcare providers can learn from Trader Joe’s

  1. That is a very interesting way to look at it. I never really thought of comparing the two, but this comparison really works. I go through similar experiences at my local health care provider, so I am all for an improved level of service.

    Thanks for the interesting perspective, I enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Glad you found interesting. Really was such an interesting and eye-opening experience going from the physicians office to Trader Joe’s. Great lessons to be learned for all healthcare providers. Customer service and support, which equals experience, is such a critical (and extremely efficient) marketing tactic. It’s too bad (and costly) that many don’t realize, or simply don’t take the time to map and program the customer journey.


  3. I think this is a great comparison. Healthcare providers should consider the level of service they are providing – and patients and consumers should expect it and demand it, there are choices.
    I had an experience yesterday when I called an inpatient facility to check on a family member. I was waiting for a call, but missed it (they did not leave a message). I quickly called back, and was informed that I needed to know who called me before they could give me information on my family member – and no, they could not just take a message because they were way too busy for that. Let’s see- worried family member, go away? amazing.

    Thanks again for the post.

  4. Lisa,

    Thanks so much for your input. Great example of how not to show the love to your customers. You also raise an important point, which will continue to increase into the future — patients and their families have more choices.


  5. This is an excellent post and keeps providers remembering what is most important. Customer care and good communication is the basis of good patient relationship management.

    Thank you for posting this interesting article.

  6. Love this. I’ve experienced this many times. The “Trader Joe’s” attitude would do more than just improve marketing, it would improve the quality of care we’d get. When we’re relaxed, we’re more likely to talk freely with our healthcare providers.