business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Detroit News reports that Kmart has gotten a consultant’s report saying that two thirds of shopping trips to its stores are a disappointment, and is responding with a new strategy that it says will improve customer service.

According to the News, the company “hopes to organize work more efficiently at the store level, offer training and coaching, simplify activities and messages at retail locations and implement measurable standards.

"Our mission for Sears Holdings Corp. is to build customer relationships," CEO Aylwin Lewis wrote in a recent letter to employees. "A big part of accomplishing that part of our mission in 2006 is to dramatically improve our customer experience for every touch point -- in the home, on the phone, online and in our stores. … The emotional mindset is one of pride, competitiveness, urgency and most of all a willingness to serve customers."
KC's View:
One of the ways that you deliver great customer service is by hiring, empowering and compensating a great workforce. Virtually every message that has been sent to the world since the merger of Kmart and Sears has pushed cost-cutting and efficiency…you can’t just give customer service lip service and expect it to work. And that means it has to be ingrained into the culture.

Our observation is that any retailer that has to wait for a consultant to tell it that its customer service stinks is both out of touch and probably out of hope.