Several months ago I wrote a column about customer service in a certain chain store that was as bad as it gets.
This company had spent millions of dollars to almost double the size of the store, add departments—aisles of nonfoods, floral, fresh seafood, butcher shop, pharmacy, the list goes on.
The only thing they had failed to do was read the sign on the wall over the many new cash registers they had installed that talk about customer service. This was the joke of the neighborhood. It was not unusual to go in this store and see folks lined up four-, six-or eight-deep and half the registers closed. There was no management in sight, causing you to think they didn’t care. Mind-boggling, isn’t it, that a company would spend big money on improving the store but not making sure customer service didn’t ruin the whole experience?
I did talk to management and asked them what’s going on. I don’t know if I had any effect, but the next time I was in there, there was someone standing in the aisle behind all the registers directing traffic and getting more and more cashiers to open up. Even the employee in the self-checkout area was inviting people over so that she could do their checkout for them.
Wow, what a concept; people are waiting in line so you open up a lane to get them out quickly!
Now, no one knows how long this will last, but it’s a step in the right direction.
I suspect that competitive pressures may have played a role in the changes I saw. Walmart is trying to find a location across the street from this store, and a chain that’s known for its customer service may have an option on another corner.
The exact reason for the 180-degree about-face is unknown, but here is the point: It can be done when those who have office space in the corporate headquarters make up their minds that the plaque hanging over the registers is not just a sign but a way of life for that company and it will be followed or changes will be made at any and all levels.
This is one thing that Walmart hasn’t quite figured out yet. Whether it’s a corporate mindset or they are just too big to get it done makes no difference. At this point they are not about customer service, at least in the stores I have visited.
But QuikTrip has figured it out. Next time you want to fill up your gas tank and maybe buy a Coke, try ’em out. The grounds are clean, the grass is mowed, the trash cans are not running over, the pumps are clean and the gas price is usually lower than the competition. Walk in the store and I bet the clerk will speak to you. All kinds of hot foods are available as well as coffees of all kinds. Plus, the bathrooms are clean, the floors are uncluttered and if customers start to line up, they call over a clerk to open another register. They ask you if you found all you wanted, and then some, and you’re on your way.
I could go on and on, but it almost makes me ill to see the lack of attention given to this most important part of today’s retail operations called Customer Service, which many have turned into Customer-No-Service with no thought to the after-effect, which is we reap what we sow.