More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Walmart's Focus Should Be On Customer Service

It seems that Walmart is making some efforts to improve employee satisfaction. Among some of the changes, say Walmart officials, employees will now be able to wear denim on the job, and can choose between blue or khaki pants. As well, music played in stores will also be changed to reflect employee preferences, and temperatures in stores, which are controlled at corporate headquarters, will be increased a couple of degrees to address concerns by employees that stores are too cold to work in.

Wages are also being slightly increased.

But one area where I think Walmart needs to double down is on customer service. In particular, it needs to man up its cash registers with cashiers, and dramatically speed up the entire checkout process. One thing I have observed nearly every time I step through a Walmart checkout lane is how slowly items are scanned by the cashiers. And interestingly enough, it seems Walmart's checkout time is the slowest of anywhere else I shop. Even the so-called "speedy" checkout is as slow as ever.

While great prices are definitely a factor that continue to influence my choice to shop at Walmart stores, more and more I find the checkout process to be wholly frustrating. And I think Walmart could fix this problem easily, and with little added cost. It would not necessarily even require additional hiring. A system could be put into place to determine if there are a set number of customers on average in any lane, that cashier trained employees could come to the front and man up a register to increase the flow of customers checking out.

In addition, Walmart could create incentives such as paying cashiers monthly bonuses for having the fastest checkout times. It would be easy enough for a computer program at the cash register to take a time when the ticket is first opened, to the time the ticket is closed.

One thing Walmart needs to be aware of is that while great prices are certainly a driving factor to their continued success as a business, at some point when the economy begins to dramatically improve, customers may be willing to pay a premium for service, and as well, there may be innovators in business out there willing to take on Walmart and use customer service as their core niche.

I don't think Walmart is going away any time soon. And I think it's great that Walmart is addressing at least some employee concerns, and do think that happier employees make for better customer experiences as a general rule. But happier customers will also be willing to spend a little more at every visit if they know they can get in, and get out in a reasonable amount of time and with less frustration overall. Even for myself, there are times when I may need only a couple of items, but will choose to shop somewhere else for them simply because I know it will take me longer to get what I need and get out of the store to get on with the rest of my day. I am certain there are other customers who make similar choices, and with that, Walmart potentially loses millions of dollars a year simply because the checkout process is not well managed.

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