Customer Service—Round 2


June 03, 2014

Many, actually probably most, people look at and expect, when they are a customer, to be taken care of quickly, efficiently, and effectively. This can be a challenge to get, as more and more businesses continue to reduce payrolls, rely on technology, and just do not focus on getting their customers in and out as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible. Retail is particularly an area of concern, where waits sometimes become ridiculously long. Why—staffing, failure to recognize who really pays the salaries and wages of those working in the stores, and just plain lack of concern.


Maybe I am old school, but I grew up in an environment where I truly believe in the golden rule and fully expect to be treated as I want to be treated. I want to get in and out quickly with my purchase. Life is too short for me to wait in long lines to give someone money, that supports them, for what I want to buy. Life is too short for me to wait an excessive period for a meal to be delivered. Life is too short for me to live with those in management of a company that I am trying to pay, to deliver what I want quickly so I can get out and get on to bigger and better things.


A couple of months ago, my wife and I decided to replace a television. We did some research and went to Best Buy to look at our options. Surprisingly the choices were limited by our size and function requirements. As a result, we decided to go to the Walmart down the street to see what they had to offer. I am the first to tell you that I hate going to Walmart, primarily because of the lines, the waiting, the failure to respect my time, and the total disregard of the management and employees who I pay, every time I visit—which is seldom. My wife likes Walmart because as she says “she is a shopper” and shops for prices, and is willing to live with the wait to buy commodities. Walking through the television area of Walmart, no one offered to help us, ask questions, etc., even though we were at the area of the highest ticket items in the department. Employees were in the area, not helping customers, but doing tasks and talking to each other. We were able to make our comparisons, however, we decided to leave without buying. As we were leaving, on one of the end caps a television model that met our specifications was stacked out for us to pick up and take to the register. By the way, this is was a 40” television. After some discussion, without any assistance, we decided to pick up the television and take it to a register to pay. The purchase price was approximately $450. As we got to the registers area we noted that only a few registers were open and all lines had at least 8 people in line. After a minute in line, I noted that no one was calling for help to staff the other “closed” registers and again my belief that Walmart was great at getting people in, yet was not so great at taking customers money, at least in a timely fashion. I sat the television down in the line and walked out of the store, deciding this was not a day for me to buy a television or a day to give Walmart $450.


One week passed and my wife and I looked at Target’s Sunday ad. They were promoting basically the same television that we left on the floor in Walmart. Same size, same manufacturer, actually one additional feature, at the same price. We decided to give Target a try, and if they did not meet our needs we would go back to Best Buy and try there again. Once in the television area we were greeted by a lovely young lady that was busy with other activities, however, it was obvious to us that she understood that the customers come first. She asked us qualifying questions and seemed concerned that we got what we wanted, and even answered questions. She took us to her register, in the electronics department, rang us up, we paid, and the young lady offered to take the television to our vehicle or have someone take it for us.


What a difference between these two Retail giants in the way they treat their customers—the ones paying them. Target recognizes that my time is my most valuable asset. Walmart does not. Target recognizes that customers want to be taken care of quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Walmart does not. Unfortunately too many other retailers do not recognize or respond to this basic need of the consumer.


Next week I will convey experiences buying a car and the difference made when the powers that be understand, who really pays them.