The Olive Garden has its Tuscan culinary school that really exists, but do other companies have special training resorts for their employees? If you’re an aspiring UPS driver, you can attend the company’s training boot camp in Maryland, where they learn everything from the “friendly honk” to why they should never turn left. [More]
For millions of people, Target is seen as many things — convenient, low-priced, reasonably tasteful — but we have a hunch that most Target shoppers would use the word “amazing” to describe the Target shopping experience. And they certainly wouldn’t use it over and over and over again the way a leaked Target employee training script does.
You might think that a company like Mozy, which sells secure online backup services, would be able to troubleshoot common technical issues that are directly related to its business. After all, surely Heather isn’t the only customer to have problems with her initial backup hanging for several days in a row. But instead of offering useful assistance, Mozy’s tech support person told Heather that the problem was that “wireless internets don’t like lots of files flying through the air.” Wow, that must really cause problems with Mozy’s business model.
The funny thing about a service economy, writes Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal, is that it’s created a world where people who interact with the public are deliberately trained to be rude and compassionless. She thinks it’s partly because we threw out manners right as we reached a cultural moment where we interact with strangers more than ever. But that’s only part of it–she also notes that clerks are trained to get in your face and aggressively push for higher sales, and that the dreaded “Dead Face”–that stony look that’s used to shut down any communication at all–is probably taught by consultants as an efficient way to handle people.
Whaaaaa? The Wall Street Journal says J.C. Penney and Home Depot have been investing in better customer service training, because apparently some egghead thinks it might increase sales. Penney started it back over the holiday shopping season, by giving cash bonuses to employees who improved their customer service scores. Home Depot should be rolling out some new improved customer interaction this month, where cashiers will ask if you found everything you needed and will call up the right department on your behalf if you didn’t.
Mark tells Consumerist that he noticed a disturbing trend while shopping at his local Apple Store this weekend. While using the display models and contemplating a purchase, he and his son were displaced twice to make room for a customer training session. Does the Apple Store still exist to sell computers, Mark wonders, or is it now primarily an educational institution?
Travel with Consumer Watch columnist Jon Yates of the Chicago Tribune to the training ground of our nation’s elite. The few, the powerless, and the often berated: Comcast customer service representatives. Yates sat in on a training class for new reps, sat in on many live calls, and shared the secrets of agents’ formation. Sort of.
Sure, Best Buy emerged victorious over Circuit City in the Battle of the Big-Box Electronics Stores, but they still have to compete with general discounters like Walmart. Which is why in a new ad campaign, Best Buy calls out Walmart specifically, attacking their employees’ presumed lack of product knowledge compared to Best Buy employees.
Hannah needs some more training, because her knowledge of Comcast’s bandwidth cap is less than Comcastic. We also think calling her an “analyst” is maybe stretching it a bit.
An anonymous Office Depot employee sent us this internal reminder from HQ that addresses this week’s allegations that associates and managers lie about inventory depending on the customer. Now the next time you’re told by an Office Depot associate that the laptop you want is out of stock, you can say, “Are you absolutely sure? Because I know you had a Sales Practices Reminder on March 12th about lying to customers.” And if a manager tries to get all up in, uhm, your grill area, you can say, “Don’t you have some tasks to go check off in your Task Manager?”
Eli Lansey took photos of recent Icon Parking ads on NYC subway cars and posted them on his blog. They promise customers “$10 for up to 10 hours” of parking at various lots in the city. Wow, that’s a good price! On the same ad they have a help wanted section that says they’re looking for employees, “no experience necessary.” Ah.
If you buy your devil juice from Pennsylvania, you might notice a difference in the way you’re treated starting later this month. Pennsylvania is spending $173,000 to train employees of its state-owned liquor and wine stores to be more polite, reports PhillyBurbs.com: “The board wants to make sure clerks are saying ‘hello,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘come again’ to customers coming in for wine and liquor.”
Erica, who writes Philadelphia Weekly’s Style blog, went to Target this past Saturday to purchase some new tank tops. She and her boyfriend filled their cart with a lot of other stuff too—”Ready to stimulate the economy?” she joked to him on their way to the register—and they agreed to split the cost equally. Now when I worked retail, that was an infrequent but not impossible task. When you ask a Target cashier to do that, get ready to have your debit card debited twice for the full amount of the bill, and then told two days later that the voided transactions will take 72 hours to clear.
Jay wanted to update his copy of Adobe Creative Suite 2 to CS3 and simultaneously switch the license over to the Mac platform. The first sales rep he spoke with did everything right and Jay was very happy. Then that sales rep disappeared forever, only to be replaced by a comically inept parade of CSRs who can’t figure out Adobe’s own systems, who make up their job titles, give out fax numbers to call, and who—in one case—claim to be on a phone system that doesn’t connect to the outside world.
Next Tuesday, Starbucks will close 7,100 corporate-owned stores early to implement a company-wide retraining session on how to make drinks. “The barista re-education is a ‘renewed focus on espresso standards,’ say Starbucks honchos.” We thought that’s why they bought the robot espresso machines—so they didn’t have to have trained coffee pullers anymore.
USA Today has a quiz supplied by the National Retail Federation based on materials they use in their retail management and certification courses. [And if you’re one of those people obsessed with taking quizzes, stop reading here until you’ve taken it.] It’s an interesting but somewhat obvious set of questions, all centered on hammering home the concept that being a retail manager means focusing on display, loss prevention, and customer service—but not on “long-term planning” of the type of merchandise that will be sent to your store.
Dairy Queen is the king of food safety violations, according to nationwide health inspection reports. Hygiene issues comprise almost 25% of DQ’s violations; busy employees apparently can’t be bothered to wash their hands or store food at the proper temperature.
Northwest Airlines says its employees are going to be taking customer service classes.