Rather than saying hello, the greeters at Walmart will soon be bidding everyone goodbye.
The company has announced plans to phase out its familiar greeters at some 1,000 stores nationwide in about six weeks, on April 26, in favor of an expanded, more physically demanding “customer host” role. They will now have to be able to lift heavy objects and perform other physical tasks.
Weight-lifting? Pushups? Sit-ups?
But it’s still a seismic – and seminal – change at the world’s largest retailer by revenue.
I can remember walking into a Walmart for the first time about 30 years ago and being caught off guard when a female employee smiled and greeted me warmly. I went back a week later and received the same treatment.
How cool! I was so impressed.
Imagine that, somebody thanking me for simply walking through the front door. The people running Walmart weren’t thanking me for purchasing anything, in that they had no idea if I was going to buy a shopping cart full of merchandise or walk out empty-handed, or somewhere in between. They were thanking me for, as evidenced by my presence, the fact that I was at least entertaining a thought of buying some merchandise.
What an ingenuous move, planting a seed a kindness – that they actually cared that I was there – in hopes I would become more inclined to do business there.
I knew the trick but I didn’t care. The people at Walmart realized that I could spend my money anywhere. It certainly didn’t have to be at Walmart. They appreciated that the store was at least on my short list for that particular day.
It made me want to go to Walmart more. And I did. I bought plenty of things there.
That the greeters – at least as we have come to know them – will not be there much longer, does not make me happy. I have to be honest in saying that I will miss that, and I would venture to guess that a lot of other people will as well.
Whether it limits my trips, or my spending, at Walmart remains to be seen, and I know that’s the bottom line. Money not just talks, but it talks the loudest, especially in business.
But before we jump all over Walmart, it needs to be pointed out that, in a lot of ways visible and not so visible, companies of all kinds have taken customer service off the to-do list and put it onto the clearance/discontinued shelf in the back corner of the building. It’s been there for so long that many of us don’t even notice anymore that it has been moved.
That doesn’t make those businesses bad. Rather, it’s simply a sign of the times, that they are looking to cut costs wherever and whenever possible. And if everybody is doing the same thing – or not doing it, as it were – they can all get away with it.
But I think they’re stepping over dollars to get to dimes – that is, they’re losing more money than they’re saving in terms of lost revenue.
I will go someplace where I feel welcome, and I refuse to go anywhere where I’m not. It’s just that simple. Life is too short to do anything else. There are already enough irritations in the world. I don’t need to add to that list.
To put it more succinctly, if I can’t find the item I’m looking for, then how can I buy it?
I’d like to ask somebody that defining, all-important question, but there’s no one around.