More and more, I’m convinced exceeding our customers’
expectations must be our strategy. Working and thinking together, with absolute
determination to do it, we can and will do it.
Recently, we had an interesting Saturday morning meeting. We
discussed and brain-stormed the effects of specialty stores such as Office
Depot, Toys-R-Us, Auto Shack, and others in almost every line we carry and how
well we can compete. Our management group offered many suggestions, some of
which will be adopted. One suggestion was that in order to compete effectively,
we should staff the specialty areas of our store twelve hours a day with
knowledgeable and well-trained associates.
This Wal-Mart machine of ours has many advantages over
our competitors, but to exceed our customers’ expectations, we simply must find
ways to improve. I contend that our team has the capability of delivering
exceptional service which will give us the edge we badly need in Sam’s,
Wal-Mart stores, dot or Hypermart.
Competition will continue to improve. Our Company’s future
survival, in my opinion, depends on our always exceeding our customer’s
expectations. Let me cite an example. I am referring to that caring Department
Manager of Lawn and Garden in our New Smyrna Beach Wal-Mart store who learned
that a customer had purchased a picnic table at an adjacent Wal-Mart. The
hardware was not enclosed in the carton and the customer could not get back
some 20 miles to our store. Our Department Manager drove his pickup to the
other Wal-Mart, picked up the hardware, took it to our customer in the country
and helped her put the table together. You talk about expectations over and
above – we have a customer there for life!
That is only one example of exceeding a customer’s
expectations. With caring attitudes,
there are many things we can think of and achieve which will surprise and shock
our customers. Our total objective should be to serve our customers every time
they are in our store and make their shopping experience enjoyable.
Remember, they are our guests.
In my book, these are some of the differences we can and
must achieve. WHAT IF…
1. Every customer received a smile and a friendly greeting
from at least 10 of our associates on each shopping experience? That’s our
2. Our great People Greeters continued to greet and do that
great job up front for us?
3. We hired and trained all Service Desk associates to
handle refunds and exchanges immediately without approval or keying the drawer?
(Perhaps $25 and above might require approval.) This would place more
responsibility and authority on our people, but I’m betting they would handle
it well and our customers would be better satisfied.
4. Management, CSMs and Support Team members spoke to and
appreciated as many of our customers as possible as they finished their
5. Through our buying efforts, we exceeded our customers’
expectations with quality merchandise and continued to improve our productivity
so we could lower prices and offer better values?
6. We continued to maximize our “Just in Time” Program and
through training and improved systems, we always had items in stock for our
customers, seasonally and otherwise?
7. We continued to listen, experiment, and let our
enthusiastic and dedicated associates stay on top of the above programs with
their unusual sales promotions and VPI programs?
In summary, the above could be called: OUR MOVE TO A TOTAL
QUALITY AND A “DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME” APPROACH FOR WAL-MART. If we are
going to exceed our customers’ expectations, it will require more authority and
responsibility on the part of our associates with a total objective that we
completely, on the spot, using good judgment, do whatever is necessary to
satisfy that all-important customer WITH A SMILE, no hassles and no waiting.
Consider this example. We’ll call it the “hassle factor.”
Imagine if you bought a new pair of shoes at a downtown store. A week later, a
sole begins to come off and you take them back. You drive through heavy
traffic, spend 15 minutes finding parking space, explain the problem to the
salesclerk who says, “We stand behind our merchandise,” and you’re given a new
pair of shoes. Question 1: Are you happy? Answer: Well, no, but sure, I have a
new pair of shoes and the salesclerk was pleasant enough, but I had to take
time out of my day, go to a lot of trouble, and get what I should have had in
the first place – in short, the whole transaction was a hassle and neither the
salesclerk nor the store did anything to make it up to me. Question 2 What
should have been done? Answer: Replace, plus one. Besides giving me a new pair
of shoes, the salesclerk should have thrown in a pair of socks or stockings for
the hassle, instead of saying, “We will replace inferior merchandise when a
customer complains.” Conclusion: The store’s message should be: “We really
regret your inconvenience and want to make you happy.”
Our bottom line goal must be: “We must guarantee always that customers will be satisfied with their whole
experience of our Company’s products and services, and that it moves on a
system of giving our associates complete responsibility for making the
guarantee stick. It would end with a process of identifying systems failures,
the problems in organization, training and internal programs that cause
This message is a little heavy, but if we can achieve most
of what has been discussed, look out World! Together, I know we can. Bless you
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By Sam Walton, Chairman I’ve had a real good week. I’ve...