Published on: June 16, 2011
I wrote yesterday about “brief encounters” I’d had with employees at PetSmart and Home Depot, reflecting a higher level of customer service than I’m used to in those venues, and wondered if something is going on out in the hinterlands.
Apparently, there is.
MNB user Barry Scher wrote:Home Depot is now doing a tremendous job in the customer service arena because they found out, early on, that Lowes was taking away their cookies. As a regular Home Depot customer, it was only a few years ago that one had to literally chase down a store associate to find something or get an answer to a question. Now they have friendly staffers who DO go out of their way to be helpful. Target is another business that excels in good customer service; Wal-Mart should learn from them.
And speaking of service, how many food retailers stay open to 11 p.m. nightly yet close down their service departments at 9 p.m.? I understand the cost-cutting rationale but if your store is open to serve customers, serve them throughout the WHOLE store! It sure is frustrating to go into my chain grocer at 9 p.m. to find the deli closed. If it is called a "service department", give service please!
MNB user Connie Montgomery wrote:I think it is in the water...... I have noticed the same thing when I go into any store. Walmart, HEB, Petco, Home Depot, Walgreens and even a Family Dollar. Store employees are becoming so much nicer and helpful.
By George----I think they got it.
From another MNB user:Wow - strange coincidence? I received outstanding service from the orange aprons at my local Home Depot in northern Idaho last week too! Hmmmmm....
MNB user Jim Hrovat wrote:Great story about Pet Smart and Home Depot. Retailers can spend millions annually on advertising but it really comes down to how the customer is treated in the store. If they’re not treated well the advertising is a waste of money.
MNB user Wayne Godwin wrote:What’s the probability of the vendors at PetSmart paying for the person who directed you to their own brand?
None, in this case. We’d already chosen the brand. It was a matter of figuring out at what point to move on from puppy food.
Another MNB user wrote:Interesting to see all these companies and competitors of Walmart are doing what Sam Walton started. Only problem is Walmart isn’t any more.
And MNB user Clayton R. Hoerauf wrote:What is the world coming to? My wife recently contacted our cable provider to add Current TV to our package. We were previously told it would be $10.00 per month. Much to our amazement, the person was extremely helpful, courteous and she found a “bundle” with 100 other channels we didn’t want or need but we ended up getting it for $3.99 per month. My wife was having a terrible day up to that point and a friendly helpful voice was all it took to turn the day around.
Current TV, huh? I expect a report back on how Keith Olbermann is doing in his new TV home...
On the subject of the UFCW trying to find a way to organize employees into a non-union that is able to urge better labor practices without actually negotiating with management, MNB user Todd Bogwill wrote:If it is so dreadful to work at Walmart can't the disgruntled employees seek better companies in which to work? Also, if a Walmart employee is providing value to the store in which they work, doesn't that employee earn more in wages? Certainly there is an upward path to store management.
My thoughts are that unions are the death knell to competitive enterprises leading to higher prices to the consumer.
I get the whole “like it or lump it” argument, except that I think it probably is illegal.
Employees are, by law, allowed to organize into a union. Companies are, by law, allowed to take measures - within reason - to convince employees that it isn’t as good idea.
In some cases, even a job that doesn’t pay a decent wage or have reasonable benefits or offer tolerable hours may be the best job in a community or region. Seems to me that there is nothing wrong with, having taken that job, trying to find ways in which to convince employers that a worker is entitled to more. In some cases, perhaps because alternatives have closed or moved or been put out of business, there may not be another place to work.
So “like it or lump it” isn’t really a fair reaction, in my view.
I’m not saying that unions are some kind of panacea, or that the union movement as it has evolved has been a good thing for competitiveness. It would be fairly easy to identify industries where this has not been the case. But I also think there are industries we could identify where management took the “enjoy the crumbs from the rich man’s table” approach to labor relations. There is plenty of blame to go around for the problems that exist in management-labor relations and this nation’s lack of competitiveness.
Wanting more money or better working conditions does not necessarily make someone “disgruntled,” at least not in the way that this word often is used.
I’m amused by the whole union / non-union approach, and I’m certainly sympathetic to people who feel that the union movement has gone off the rails. But I hate to demonize the notion of unions in concept, because there was a time in this country that they were instrumental in assuring that people were not exploited. Sometimes we forget that.
“Like it or lump it” strikes me as an ideological approach, and ideology can often be a substitute for contextual thinking.
One MNB user made this point, which is worth considering:Several years ago at a Walmart meeting an outside union expert came in a spoke. He left us all with one HUGE take away. “Unions don’t exist if you treat and pay your associate fairly”. Companies create the need for unions, he went on to say….
We wrote here yesterday about “found money” - extra fees assessed by airlines that have allowed many of them to be profitable, and asked if there is money being left on the table by a lot of businesses that could be the difference between success and failure. Which led MNB user Rosemary Fifield to write:While I always check a bag and end up paying the fee, I don't really see it as an additional charge. They had the option to make it part of the cost of the flight. Instead, they are giving me a choice and an incentive to carry my own. I just prefer to pay for the privilege of having the larger bag and a place to put all those liquids they don't want me to carry onboard.
MNB user Paul Schlossberg chimed in:Your observations are spot on. There is a real advantage for airlines to use the fees as a pricing tool. By keeping these fees separate from ticket prices, the airlines can be somewhat "slower" to raise ticket prices. The fees bring in extra revenue - revenue which is not taxed.
MNB user Alex Drew wrote:I am a disgruntled consumer whenever fees are pushed down onto us, but I understand it from a business P&L standpoint. You are totally correct that the airlines pulled a great move by going all in (except for Southwest) charging for checked baggage. They basically took the choice away from the consumers overnight and all made good profits in the process. They also did it without any thought of public perception on the airline industry. I just think, looking back they could have eased the blow of the additional charge by utilizing their frequent flyer programs. They offer free miles for other profitable services (biggest being new credit cards), so why not for checking luggage? Imagine if they put into effect a millage credit proportional to the cost of baggage to ticket. So if the ticket costs someone $300 and the luggage fee is $30 (10% of the ticket), the result would be a %10 millage credit to a FF account for the distance of the trip. Say the same flight might be 1000 miles, so 10% of the distance would result in 100 miles to someone’s FF account. Ok, it might be a little complicated but fair to all sides.
Even a flat 50 miles for any checked luggage fee would have helped lessen the blow to the consumers and might even have built some loyalty/good faith to the airlines. I just wish we had a high speed rail system I could take rather than a plane.
I love it when certain MNB discussions prompt emails like the following one:Shoot, you combined my three greatest interests: Sports, Business and Discourse. I wanted to challenge a couple of premises from your Tuesday wake-up:
1. The notion that James wants you to go back to your ‘miserable, little life.”
“All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. So they can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they got to get back to the real world at some point.” - LeBron James
I don’t take him talking about your miserable little lives from this. Instead, I see him focusing on what is important to him – being happy and that is not derived just from playing basketball. By the way, those that tied their happiness and enjoyment to his losing? Sounds kind of miserable to me. I enjoyed seeing the Mavs win and Lebron lose, I didn’t like how he handled anything after the close of last season, but he’s right – it shouldn’t have mattered.
2. The notion that winning and creating fans is the goal of professional sports.
“While I’ve never been one who believes that professional athletes should be seen as role models, I do believe that they have two jobs: 1) win, and 2) create a product that people actually want to root for. By both measures, LeBron James failed. His words drove that home.” - KC
I disagree. I don’t believe that a professional athlete’s jobs fall to winning. I think they have one job: make money (for themselves and for the owner). This can be accomplished by winning as a team – the Dirk and the Mavs are likely to make a lot of money off of the ‘world’ championship. Meanwhile, Lebron will continue to have the #1 selling jersey and it’s not limited to Heat fans (those rooting for him). He will continue to be the most marketed and marketable product in the NBA. The result of the Decision (I HATED it, but watched) and the Welcome celebration (where ‘king’ James, et al celebrated their future championships before even playing a game) was significantly more interest at a national level. The league just enjoyed its most viewed playoffs in years, Lebron was talked about more than the winning team/players and I’m pretty sure everyone’s making money. Lots of it.
Carmelo Anthony did something similar. He talked his way out of Denver to the Knicks. Going from a better team, with a fan base that loved him, to a worse team, with less chance to win. In doing so, he significantly increased interest in him, went to a market where his ceiling was higher (marketability, jersey sales, etc). The NBA can now push their largest market – it has a marketable asset in ‘Melo, and Anthony can market himself more effectively. Knicks ticket and jersey sales are up, the NBA now has all of its largest markets stocked with marketable assets story lines.
You and I may want their jobs to solely be: Win and create a product people root for (for Chris Bosh who openly wept after the game, that may be his desire), but the goal of the NBA, the Heat and Lebron James is, and will continue to be, to create a marketable product that makes lots of money. Job well done. David Stern is happy – except for that upcoming strike and shortened season.
MNB user Steven Ritchey wrote:You can take his comments after losing the series to Dallas however you want to, mostly it probably depends on your opinion of James to begin with. I used to if not like him, at least I had a favorable opinion of him. Now that we’ve gotten past “The Decision” the big party for the “big three” at Miami when the announcement was made and the grand promises he made concerning the number of championships they would win together. You can probably guess I don’t think very highly of him at all anymore and am rather happy my hometown Dallas Mavericks won that series.
As for how I took his comments, right or wrong I took him to mean that we still have our pathetic little lives, he has his mansion(s), cars, boats, airplanes and wealth beyond description. He may still have those things, but he lacks something I value very highly, respect.
I wrote yesterday with admiration about how, as a measure of customer service, United Supermarkets has installed a unique piece of hardware in the parking lot of its Market Street location in Lubbock, Texas - a hitching post, for people who like to ride their horses to the store.
Well, this apparently isn’t as unique as I thought.
One MNB user wrote:This is not unusual. Many of our independent Supermarkets in Michigan and Indiana have had hitching posts for years because of the number of Amish families within their communities.
And, from another MNB user:In Amish country, as you undoubtedly know, lots of retailers have hitching posts for horses and wagons.
The sad reality is that everything I know about the Amish I learned from watching Kelly McGillis in Witness
But I take your word for it.
I was castigated yesterday by an MNB user who felt I had swallowed a myth about foie gras in siding with Wegmans’ decision to take it off its cooking school menu because of animal rights concerns.
But two MNB users came back with an observation that I wish I’d thought of.Your reader wrote, “Ducks are not hurt at all.” How do they remove the liver without hurting the duck?
And, from MNB user Christine A. Myres:Loved the comment about “the duck isn’t hurt at all”. So how exactly do they get the liver out? Just asking...
I live for these kinds of emails.
I’m also being castigated by an MNB user for letting people know that MNB delivery times might be a little off this week because of my travel schedule:Relax and enjoy Barcelona. I don't think anyone notices (or cares) what time your blog shows up. It's not exactly "breaking news."
Hey, I take this stuff seriously. And I do feel like I have an obligation here ... especially because I preach a lot about transparency, and think I ought to walk the walk.