Now on sale at WalMart: customer service

I know WalMart has a bad reputation with a lot of people but I don’t care. You can’t beat their prices and I’m usually satisfied with their customer service.

Recently, however, I had a bad experience at a local WalMart store while trying to get a price adjustment for a product that had dropped $20 soon after I bought it. I had a run-in with an associate who tried to be helpful but wasn’t trained properly and her supervisor who was trained but not interested in being helpful.

So I went to WalMart’s web site where you can contact them. I sent a rather scathing note with my complaints outlined.

It took a few days before I heard anything, which, honestly, is better than the stupid auto-reply emails most corporations send you. When I did hear something, it was from “Steve at WalMart” who called my house during the day when I wasn’t home because I was out working so I could afford to buy things, at WalMart and elsewhere. Anyway, after a couple of days of voicemails, I didn’t hear from Steve again — until yesterday.

Steve sent a great customer-service letter telling me how sorry he was about what happened and that he decided to write after not being able to reach me via phone. He also enclosed a money order that took care of my price adjustment. It turns out Steve is the local store manager.

So, WalMart’s online system worked. The complaint was routed to the local manager who was empowered to address the situation, and he did.

See, Corporate America? Customer service isn’t that hard and even when there’s a screw-up, you can still make amends with good service to keep a customer.

Steve’s best comments in the letter are something that all managers in every company should learn from:

“I teach my supervisors that they are empowered to make decisions to the benefit of our customers. Obviously, there are limits to what we can do. However, in this situation, common sense should have prevailed.”

I’ll be sending Steve a thank you note. Customer service is about gratitude for someone’s business — and receiving good customer service these days deserves some gratitude as well.

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