Today I was at WalMart as I often am. It is not so much because I enjoy the place or particularly care for their special brand of customer disservice, but rather because they simply do have the lowest prices. I often wonder why the customer service is so terrible. I know that they pay a pittance for wages, so perhaps that is the reason. Maybe it is because they just have to work so darn hard, after all that will wear you out. As I ponder I am perplexed because Chick-fil-a doesn’t pay particularly great wages and the employees there work very hard, yet every single customer experience is amazing. Then what could it be? The florescent lighting? Standing all day on the hard tile floors? Today I realized that it all boils down to one thing,
As I made my way through the grocery section I watched as three managers approached. Certain that they would stop or slow down so that I could continue on my way, I did just that. I was amazed. Not only did they not slow down, but they all walked directly in front of me, one of them nearly running into my cart. I stopped and allowed them to pass in front of me with their large cart that one of them was pushing. I was sure that someone would say excuse me, but nothing. I was so shocked that I just stood there. I didn’t really know what to do. I decided that I would speak to the managers about it.
As I approached the managers, I realized that it wasn’t just department managers or assistants, but the General Manager , and two Co-Managers. Now I was really upset. I asked them if I could bring something to their attention. They seemed annoyed, but said I could. I explained to them that the only thing that kept me coming back to WalMart was the prices and that I was considering shopping elsewhere after something that I saw today in their store. Now I had their attention and they seemed concerned. I explained that every time I shop in their store that the employees never seemed to be happy to be there and that they were almost never helpful or courteous. They were very interested now. I told them that I discovered why the employees treated their customers that way. One of them asked, “well sir what happened today?” I explained to them that the three of them had just cut me off and almost run over me and that they didn’t even bother to say excuse me or to even acknowledge that anything had happened. I told them that I understand why the employees don’t respect their customers. It’s because the management team doesn’t respect their customers. One of them said that he was sorry and they the didn’t see me. I explained to them how that was the problem. They were so busy doing other things that they didn’t pay attention to the customer. The GM hung his head in shame and thanked me for bringing it to their attention.
The one reason that WalMart employees don’t respect their customers is that their leadership doesn’t. For those of us who work with customers, they pay our pay checks so they are the top priority. For those of us in a leadership role, we have to remember that our employees will only follow our example. If we don’t take care of the customer, then our employees won’t either.