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 Because it’s cold (maybe 60 degrees) and the magazines are out-of-date, I actually weigh myself and set the height bar (to keep moving).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, launched in 1999, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment to move customers, brands and businesses upward. Prior to Trajectory, Eric served as EVP and Management Board member at Interbrand (the world’s most influential brand consultancy). Before Interbrand, he held senior marketing positions at Beiersdorf Inc. and L’Oreal and advertising account management positions at Marschalk and Benton & Bowles.He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall’s Graduate School of Communications and has lectured at Wharton Business School and Emory Goizueta School of Business.