Why I spanked a Walmart Manager


Well now, that got your attention.

Actually it was an assistant manager and the spanking was verbal. It was a classic case of bad management and bad customer service rolled up into one.

Walmart is the constant and ongoing butt (pun intended) of my jokes about how not to do that customer service thing. Yesterday they showed how accomplished they were by showing off some of their expertise in bad management as well, which all said and done is just bad internal customer service. After all, can’t we read all kinds of treatises on effective management expounding the values of the upside down pyramid and how a manager actually serves the people that report to them.

Yesterday I ended up at the customer service desk. I stress that I was not returning something as that would mean that I shop there. I was sending money via Western Union and they’re actually very good at that. The next person in line  then walked yup to the next available customer disservice representative and started to attempt to return a pair of boots that he had bought from another store, the one that he worked at. Apparently he didn’t have the piece of paper that a Walmart employee needed to return merchandise.

At this point an assistant manager shows up as the customer disservice representative appeared to escalate it. For some reason the assistant manager who was supposedly trying to help him basically launched into a tirade about how he should know the process, wasting her time and all kinds of power tripping nonsense. He actually said to her “I’m a Walmart employee, is this how you talk to employees?”. Throughout it all he maintained a level of composure that was a credit to him.

Her attitude reminded me of our kids when they were pre-pubescent, basically enjoying a power trip at the expense of a younger sibling. It was an amazing sight to behold.

As I finished off my Western Union transaction I handed him my business card and told him that if he wants to complain about the assistant manager to his manager or this store’s manager he has my details to support his claim.

I told her that respect for a manager needs to be reciprocated and while he was returning merchandise he was a customer. All she had was “he needs to know the processes”.

It’s interesting to me how poor customer service equates with lower prices, look at some of the bargain retailers as well as the “invisible” staff at big box stores. And yet, Sam Walton said (and to the best of my knowledge it is still on the Walmart website) that if a customer comes within 10 feet of a customer, that employee had to greet the customer.

Good luck with that!

More than that, good customer service should not be a corporate objective that needs to be taught and advocated, it should be the corporate culture. If it is then that attitude spreads to internal relationships with colleagues and subordinates. And then it gets reciprocated. And customers start treating staff with more respect.

That’s why I don’t shop at Walmart.