I am a big advocate for great customer service and most of the time I am very disappointed on how most companies and their representatives treat their customers.
I bump into so many issues in many industries that I normally write only of the major issues on this blog.
The main issue for many companies with customer service problems is that they have an issue and they want to put their head in the ground like an ostrich and wait till the problem or issue goes away. I am going to share some of the really bad experiences I have had these last few days.
My last visits to a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club have been filled with frustrating experiences that their employees and management have created.
Visit 1 – A few weeks ago while I stopped early on Sunday morning buying last moment items just in case Tropical Storm Earl came by I was allowed to go into the store at 10:00am but once I had made my purchases at 10:20am I was indicated that I had to wait till 11:00am to buy my items. At no moment was it communicated to me that I could not pay until after 11am. I spoke to the local management and requested them to have better communication with customers so they would not waste their time. I was showered with very weak excuses. I later followed along with an email to corporate which still has not been answered.
Visit 2 – This past Wednesday I visited the Sam’s club at Ponce, PR and once again I confirmed why only visit and buy from them as a last option. I was buying furniture, which I could not carry by myself. At first there where no available adequate carts to carry it. I approach a Manager and he ordered me with a commanding voice to go get a cart. I indicated there was no cart but I double-checked. Once came back to him he indicated that I should use another cart which was not the proper one to carry all the furniture. He offered help but when I got back a few minutes he had disappeared it took me 5 minutes initially to locate him and then it took me 10 minutes to locate someone else. I ended up carrying the items and filing a complaint. I have not received any reply on the issue but what is funny they contacted me to renovate my membership. They are very proactive when it comes to selling the membership but when it comes to issues they stick their head in as an ostrich.
Visit 3 – Yesterday rushing finishing my move into my new house I stopped at Wal-Mart to buy some last moment items. Once again I wasted 20 minutes. When I get to the cash register I was indicated they had no electronic card service so I had to pay cash. I requested a manager and requested her to please communicate the issue with the greeter on the door. Once again I was given many excuses but no apologies from management.
Most of the Wal-Mart issues that I have identified are the following:
Lack of communication towards employees, management, and customers of issues. Most of them are not empowered to take decisions if they make a decision without running it through a bureaucracy. I made a suggestion to their local management as a quick fix to an issue they honestly accepted they had. My suggestion would not involve any additional overhead or cost. It would actually save the time their reply was that they had to get the order from top management.
Some of these employees and management have been working for Sam’s or Wal-Mart for such a long time they really have no passion for what they are doing. In Tony Hsieh’s | @zappos (Affiliated Link –>) Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose he was very clear on how he reached into making Zappos a customer service oriented company. They do a great job in there recruiting process and they are located geographically in places where the jobs offered by Zappos are attractive to the candidates. I guess this last option would be very difficult for Wal-Mart.
Lack or no timely replies to negative feedback communicated by customers. When a customer takes their time in complaining about service the main reason was because they expected the employee, team, or company to have done better. If the customer or client took the time to write, call, or stop a manager to communicate the issue management should at least respond with an apology or at least an answer.
Huge volume of sales does not needs to make customer service a priority. Wal-mart and Sam’s in Puerto Rico have high sales comparing to other geographical locations. For these reasons they might not focus on customer service. I am in the situation where I live 3 minutes away from a Wal-Mart and in most occasions it is less expensive than their competitors. Today I had the opportunity to visit a “Supermercado Selectos” (Local Supermarket) and I was amazed on the great customer service provided. By the time the cashier requested the amount everything was already packed in bags and ready to go.
On my part I will try to do my best to stay away from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club visiting other options such as the Selectos which is even closer to my house and driving a bit further towards a Costco where I can get better prices than Sam’s Club and service with a Smile.
I recommend most companies to attack any customer service issue as soon as possible. If a company’s management sticks it head in ground like an Ostrich they should be more than aware that they are higher consequences. Ignoring your customers’ complaints only creates a very dangerous snowball effect than can become an avalanche of issues, which might impact the company in a critical way.
Have you had any experiences where you feel a company has ignored your complaints?
Have you taken further action? If you have what replies have you received?
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