Improving Customer Service at Wal-Mart through Employee Training and Motivation

Enhanced competitiveness in the business environment has implied that organizations must strive to offer excellent customer service to remain competitive. Entities keen on enhancing their performance need to develop strategies that retain existing customers in addition to acquiring new ones. Excellent customer service provides a key to retaining customers since, as recognized even by earlier studies on customer service, customers “expect service to be as much a part of what they buy, as are the product’s design, quality, and price” (Hutchison & Stolle, 1968 as cited in Ezziane, 2000, p. 91). Accordingly, customer service is a core factor that provides entities with a competitive advantage in an increasingly dynamic business environment.

Establishing and sustaining effective customer service practices however presents organizations with a heightened challenge. Macaulay and Cook (1994a), for instance note that despite many entities recognizing the importance of customer service to their businesses, initiatives that arise are usually short-lived due to the challenges that such programs face. Some of these challenges as noted by Macaulay and Cook (1994a) include: lack of senior-management support for the programs initiated, fading enthusiasm when established programs fail to generate desired results in the short-run, lack of motivation of employees to share the commitment embodied by established initiatives and lack of benchmarks that help discern the benefits derived from the initiatives introduced. Other challenges are failure to recognize customer perceptions in the initiatives developed, focusing initiatives only on the front-line staff leaving systems intact in other organizational areas and inadequacies that lead to the failure to establish requisite system and procedural changes to support the customer service initiatives established (Macaulay & Cook, 1994a). Such factors imply that effective customer service programs are those that have sound institutional, management and employee support, with a customer-oriented approach.

Particularly important to establishing such customer service initiatives are employee motivation, change of organizational culture and training to instill necessary customer care skills in an entity’s staff (Macaulay & Cook, 1994a). This importance arises out of the fact that these are internal organizational characteristics, that the organization has ways of controlling to generate desired results. One entity where such a change of perspective towards customer service is required is Wal-Mart stores Inc. (henceforth herein Wal-Mart). Go to part 2 here.

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