Business Week sent a couple of its own “secret shoppers” to some Wal-Mart stores to see how their new customer service initiative was faring, and found that the employees they spoke with not only didn’t care, but really wanted customers to know this. Said one employee, “If Wal-Mart doesn’t care for me, why should I care? There was this horrible smell in the store the last two days from some overnight spill. They did nothing about it. It got so bad that on the second day the fire department came by and we all had to wear masks.”
Despite that mysterious anecdote, all three stores Business Week sampled scored high on cleanliness. The big failure in all three, however, was customer service, which continues to nose-dive due to poor morale:
As the experience with the cashier in Uniondale illustrates, many of Wal-Mart’s workers feel outright hostility toward the company, and, by extension, they often treat customers with indifference or worse. That puts Wal-Mart in a box. Without reasonable service, the company is forced to compete almost solely on price. That in turn squeezes margins and makes it difficult to pay employees the better wages and benefits that could boost morale. It’s a vicious cycle that now appears to be working against Wal-Mart.