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Inciter | Wal-Mart? Really?
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Wal-Mart? Really?

A recent Fast Company blog talked about Wal-Mart’s practices, which often force other smaller companies out of business. Wal-Mart has a bad reputation for how it treats its vendors and its unfriendly behavior toward employees.smiley.jpg

As a native of Arkansas, I remember the days when Sam Walton used to drive around in his beat-up old pick-up truck and they took the magazine Tiger Beat off the shelves because they thought it was too racy. I’ve seen small towns altered by the presence of Wal-Mart and watched as people slowly transitioned from visiting small (and not so small) neighborhood stores to shopping at Wal-Mart for everything from paper towels to groceries to car tires.

So I was surprised to read that Wal-Mart is further enhancing it’s newly minted green credentials by creating an environmentally efficient fleet of trucks. This and other articles about the greening of Wal-Mart made me wonder if this behemoth of backwards business practices was turning over a new leaf.

I recently visited a Wal-Mart on vacation and found that they have another innovative practice related to measuring customer satisfaction. I went to the checkout register to pay with my debit card on the electronic kiosk. Along with the pin pad, a question popped up: “Was the cashier friendly to you?” and below you could press “Yes” or “No”. While I wasn’t so sure about the value of the question (How much does cashier friendliness really impact your bottom line, and how reliable are different customers’ assessments of what friendly is?) I was impressed with the delivery. Here was an instant and effortless way to measure customer satisfaction. Not only would it take me just a second to tap the answer, but the cashier couldn’t see what I was answering. It made me wonder, “Is the question always the same? Or if I went through again would they ask me how clean the store was?” Either way, the possibilities are endless. With this method you can directly connect a customer’s purchasing behavior to their satisfaction. And imagine if grocery stores with frequent buyer cards used this method! The questions could be linked to a history of buying behaviors to see how purchasing connected to customer satisfaction and whether those who indicated lower customer satisfaction purchased less in the future. The possibilities are endless…

CRC
jill@carsonresearch.com
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