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THIS BLOG IS A RE-POST OF A BLOG I WROTE FOR THE GROUP ELIANCES (http://www.eliances.com/) AND IS BEING REPRINTED WITH THE GRACIOUS PERMISSION OF THE GREAT PEOPLE AT ELIANCES.

Every Day People Encounter Employees That Just Don’t Get It…Who Is Really At Fault?

I’ve written about other OMG moments, once about systems getting in the way of customer loyalty and once about scared/poorly trained or empowered employees getting in the way of customer loyalty.  Here are is another example of an OMG moment that may actually help with customer loyalty….but perhaps not in the way outlined in the employee manual.

The following was posted by a friend on Facebook the other day:

“So it took me about ten minutes to return my battery core to Walmart. The lady at the Customer Service counter kept trying to give me back $94. I told her I should only get $12 back. She said, why don’t you want the full amount back? I explained to her, I bought a new battery and I bring back the one that doesn’t work and you give me the “core” charge back. Then she said, if it doesn’t work why don’t you just take the $94?  This is why the whole part time, minimal pay, no benefits thing doesn’t always work out. You’re not going to find the best help.”

I talk to my clients about the fact that their clients’ perceptions are their reality, whether accurate or not in true reality.  However, I have to disagree with my friend’s conclusion.  It isn’t the pay scale of the employee that drove this result.  First, let’s talk about loyalty.  This friend is a regular shopper at Walmart, so I would have to classify him as loyal.  In fact, his post is not only a jab at Walmart, it is a cry out from his loyalty.  He knows deep down that someone is taking the $94 and that in the end he is paying for that in the prices he pays at Walmart.  In addition, you have to wonder how many people are loyal to Walmart because of employees like the one described.

There are actually three things that come to mind about this situation.  The most obvious is training.  Process and procedure, especially the larger you get and the further away employees are from the top of the organization, are imperative.  But ensuring that employees have internalized those processes and procedures has to be a priority for all new hires.  Handing them a manual to read is not sufficient.  Even having them sit through a training session may be insufficient.  The closer the employee is to your end customer the more imperative this becomes.  Perhaps something like holding new employee’s hands on a regular basis may be what was missing from the equation in this scenario?

Another thing that comes to mind is Walmart’s hiring process.  The employee described is not a good employee to be handling money in my opinion.  Anyone who is predisposed to such thought should be kept away from money at all cost.  In fact, they may not be very good retail employees at all.  But how would Walmart know until something bad happens?

Lately I have talked to several professionals that utilize tools like DISC analysis.  These are tools that analyze an individual’s personality and work habits.  I have gone through DISC analyses myself and it always amazes me how accurately they portray me.  They are not perfect, mind you, but overall they nail me pretty well.  So my argument to you is, why are you not utilizing these tools in your hiring process?  Either Walmart is not doing such screenings, or is not doing so very ineffectively.

Finally, the other thing that struck me about this scenario was that I doubt very much anyone with any power to change the situation at Walmart will ever know about what happened.  Perhaps the employee may ask a supervisor about it so they have better understanding of the proper process and procedures…perhaps not.  The customer will never say anything to anyone beyond the post, feeling that the post is the culmination of their experience…at least until next time.  This is another process issue in my opinion.  I am not sure of the answer without more in-depth analysis, but it is indicative of larger problems at Walmart.

Walmart has been around a very long time and has been quite successful with their model.  However, thinking ones past success will lead to the same in the future often is the death of even long standing businesses.  Perhaps Walmart understands these issues and have built them into their model of success.  I doubt that though and in the long run, such issues can manifest themselves in much larger problems that can bring any size business to its knees.

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