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May 15, 2007

Walmart - Why Bother?

By Li Evans

Walmart I used to be one of those loyal customers of Walmart.  I loved the convenience the stores offered, but more than that, I really liked the friendly people I always encountered when I went to the store.  Back in my hometown and then when I lived over in West Chester, both of the Walmarts near where I lived were clean, uncluttered and had super friendly people.

However, it takes one "rotten apple" to ruin an entire opinion.  When I moved, the closest Walmart to me was in Pottstown.  I found myself immediately turned off when I first entered this store.  The store is tightly packed, cluttered with boxes and inventory blocking aisles, dirty feeling and if you found one person beyond the greeter smiling or being friendly, it'd be a rarity.  The aisles are really cramped, overall - it really started to sour my opinion of Walmart, but not enough to write about it.

That all changed tonight.  Reminiscent of my father's experience at Radio Shack back in November, I left Walmart completely disgusted and totally with Seth Godin's "Why Bother" post in my mind.  What got me in such a mood?  They eye appointment area.  On Saturday I went in and made an appointment, the appointment taker plainly said to me "Monday's are usually filled, lets get you in Tuesday".  She asks if 6:15 is o.k., I confirm, I ask for a card with distinctly says 5/15 at 6:15 p.m. 

Workingdaze_customer_service Tonight I show up a little after 6 and the same lady looks at me like I'm from Mars, when I say I'm there for my appointment. "I don't think so, the Doctor leaves at six,"  in an attitude and voice that really made me take a step back.

I then proceed to say, well my card says right here 5/15 at 6:15 p.m.  She was having nothing to do with the card (which she wrote on Saturday and gave to me saying 'don't forget!'), she heads over to her little computer and pulls up the schedule to prove to me I wasn't on there for 6:15.  Where does she find me?  For yesterday, Monday - the day she told me was all booked up.

She was not apologetic in any way.  She was rude and actually rather mean.  At a point where she should have said "I'm sorry for the mistake, could I reschedule you?" she was more worried about proving me wrong.  When she asked who scheduled the appointment and I said "you did, on Saturday" while she was at the computer, she was even more on a mission.

Needless to say, I stopped and said "You know what, you just don't get it.  You have just lost a rather loyal Walmart customer," and with that, I walked out.  I then proceeded to pull out my phone and call my friend to ask if there was a Lenscrafters or Pearl Vision center in the mall close by, and to my luck there was.

After I relayed my tale of Walmart-badness to the women at Lenscrafters, they squeezed me in.  I have to say, the Doctor (Dr. Carol Lachencko) there was the nicest eye doctor I'd ever had.  She answered questions I hadn't even formulated in my mind quite yet.  When that "puff of air" test wouldn't work for me, she offered an alternative that worked.  When it was all said and done, I came away with a new pair of glasses, a pair of sunglasses, and a year's supply of contacts.

Walmart could have had that business, instead they lost it because of an employee who hasn't got one iota of a clue what it means to keep a customer.

High5 So, now here's some food for thought.  How do you treat your clients if you have a misunderstanding in services or deliverables?  Is it their fault?  Do you have to prove them wrong? 

Just stop for a moment and think - a little bit of kindness and a sincere attempt at an apology can go a long way.  It can mean the difference between your client dropping your services in lieu of another firm, or for them signing on for a longer term contract with additional services.


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I have to say that good customer service seems to be something that's dying out. Long gone are the days when the customer was always right. I could say that it's the youth of today that are the problem, but apart from that making me sound like a 75 year old waving his cane at kids walking on his lawn, it's not true, it's people of all ages. Now there are still some great examples of good service out there, people who do go out of their way to help you, but they're fewer and further between. I've also noticed that this trend seems to have accelerated faster in the UK than it has in the US...

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