Whole Foods, Whole People

Today I roamed the streets of Austin, stopping by three museums and picking up some bottled water at a grocery store. The highlight however was visiting the Whole Foods Market with Kristen. The product range was astounding and employees were friendly and knowledgeable.
Whole Foods has been rated as the no. 5 best company to work for, by Fortune Magazine (see index). And when you walk through the market you can see a bounce in employees’ steps. They benefit when the company does well, and they definitely looked very empowered and happy.
I picked up some foodstuffs including a bottle of balsamic vinegar. I thought it cost US$13.99 but I was charged US$27.99. I noticed it a bit too late, but managed to point it out to the guy at the checkout counter. He immediately called for a colleague to check on the price.
My checkout guy confidently told me that if they had mispriced the item, I’d get it for free! He walked me to the customer service booth where I was greeted by two cheerful ladies. By that time, his colleague had located the shelf and confirmed that I had taken the most expensive bottle by mistake. The packaging was for the more expensive bottle was exactly the same as the cheaper one, but for a number at the corner of the bottle’s label.
I told them I’d like to exchange the US$27.99 bottle of vinegar (aged for 12 years) for the cheaper US$13.99 one (aged 6 years). They speedily processed my credit card to return US$14 back to me, and swapped bottles. I was very impressed with their service. I’ve been to shops all over the world and have never seen any group of employees looking so empowered and working together as a team. There was no fear or uncertainty, and no need to keep calling their supervisors for help.
This company puts a lot of TRUST in its employees, and it shows.
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