Customer service case study – Implications for Wal-Mart

From the literature reviewed, various implications can be drawn for Wal-Mart. First among these is the need for Wal-Mart to perceive customer service to be of as equal importance as the competitive pricing strategy it vehemently pursues (Cascio, 2006). Since globalization forces have allowed its competitors to match its prices in some offerings, and increasing occurrence of dollar stores that offer smaller packages at better prices have cut into Wal-Mart’s market (Clifford, 2011), customer service remains a front where Wal-Mart may achieve a competitive advantage over its competitors. In such a way, Wal-Mart needs to re-evaluate its human resource strategy to ensure it provides training that is informed on changing customer needs, hires personnel that are right for the customer service jobs, and motivates such employees to make sure they remain committed to the customer service initiatives that it introduces.
For training, a number of aspects stand out in particular for Wal-Mart. One of these is that it should base its training from a customer perspective (Macaulay & Cook, 1994a). Following the feedback provided in various forums (e.g. ConsumerAffairs.com, 2011), Wal-Mart can institute programs that ensure:
• Customers receive timely response and help on their inquiries.
• Communication between the company and the customer is always conducted in a polite and respectful manner.
• Employees recognize burnout to seek support so as to avoid work-related stress being reflected in their service to the customers.
• Staff who do not interact directly with customers offer required support for those who engage in such interactions i.e. they serve them as their customers.
A second implication for Wal-Mart is in line to hiring the right individuals to perform its customer care services. Firstly, this will be dependent on how the company makes its job to be perceived as attractive to potential employees. In this respect, reports of Wal-Mart’s discrimination and non-allowance of its employees to join unions could affect its rating as a good employer (Mixing politics and Wal-Mart, 2008; Casio, 2006). Accordingly, Wal-Mart needs to change the perception of its employment practices so as to attract best-qualified people to its workforce. Secondly, the entity can increase the chances of getting these qualified persons, if it identifies recruitment objectives for various positions and establishes process that ensure its potential candidates become aware of the entity’s vacancies.
Thirdly, a critical challenge for Wal-Mart seems to be lack of motivation for customer service staff. For instance, in comments in a ConsumerAffairs.com (2011), contribution from customers note of employees who are disengaged from their work with others being abusive to the customers who insist on getting service. Although this could be a result of the employees being ill equipped for the job, it also may be a result of lack of motivation for employees. By establishing customer service as central to its organizational strategy, Wal-Mart can develop ways that ensure employees remain motivated to their work thus avoid the high turnover noted of its employees (Cascio, 2006). Such ways include:
• Developing an environment of trust and respect in the workplace
• Empowering employees to make decisions with regard to aspects they are qualified regarding customer interactions to avoid delays associated with bureaucracy
• Managers portraying commitment to customer service initiatives developed through such ways as occasionally engaging in customer service work.
• Establishing performance measures relevant to offering customer service where success may not be synonymous with directly influencing sales figures.
• Providing rewards and appreciating individuals who demonstrate excellence in customer service.
To better its customer service initiatives, Wal-Mart thus needs to evaluate both training and motivation aspects. Such a process is only possible when the entity considers customer service as a source of competitive advantage. By taking such a perspective to customer service, Wal-Mart would better its customer experience thus create customer satisfaction, which leads to customer loyalty. Through such loyalty, customers would find it difficult to change to competitors even when such other competitors provide cheap alternatives to Wal-Mart’s offerings. Go to conclusion here.

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