For a long time now, Wal-Mart remains the largest market chain store in the United States of America, with an employee population of about 1.4 million people. The company had its share of problems with poor customer service and understanding. In June 2015, poor customer service in particular almost threatened the company’s competitive advantage, this resulted in the company having numerous online discussions from unsatisfied customers. Most customers complained that they hardly found anyone around the shelves to guide them about the different items on the shelves. For the few who were lucky to find line attendants, they often claimed that it was not their department and quickly made away (Wahba, 2015).
The customer concerns and complaints required the intervention of the top management at Wal-Mart since the company risked losing a large portion of its customers to competitors such as Zara (Zara just solved a major online shopping problem, 2017). While addressing the issue, Doug McMillon, the company’s Chief Executive Officer was made to make two direct communications to the company’s clients. The initial approach was the use of paid-for advert messages on leading Television and broadcasting stations in all countries where Wal-Mart has its branches. Secondly, the Chief executive officers also send out signed email messages to all clients in the company’s database. Using the two channels, Doug McMillon sought to reassure the customer that complains raised had been received and the management had started implementing measures to change the almost unprofessional customer relations department.
Besides the reassurance message, the CEO also sent out a corporate number 1-800-WALMART to be used any dissatisfied customers as well as those who might wish to compliment the company’s efforts. The number of call attendants was also increased to ensure that no call from any single customer went unanswered. This was an additional feedback channel besides the email address that had been in use for a very long time. The corporate number was meant to shorten the time it takes to address the issues raised by customers and any other shareholder. For instance, unlike email messages which might be read after some time, phone calls could be attended to almost immediately.
The above strategy worked, based on the feedback received from various customers in different geographical locations. Based on the company’s corporate relations department, the communication from the chief executive officer played a significant role in reconnecting the company with its customers. The company also increased the number of line attendants, and department clerks proved that the company’s management was up to fulfill all that was in the CEO’s message, thereby increasing customer loyalty. Some of the complains showed that the company often promised to do so many things, which went on unimplemented, making stakeholders lose faith in some of the promises made by Wal-Mart to its customers.
The above direct communication was uncharacteristic of the communication approaches used by managers at Wal-Mart stores. Typically, the Chief Executive Officer would only communicate directly to the investors through signed newsletters that are issued after the end of every financial year. In such newsletters, the CEO highlights the performance of the company for the year as well as stating the performance targets for the next year. The Chief executive officer had never been involved in such communications as reassurance messages to the customers which were regarded as the function of the marketing and corporate departments. It was an unlikely and uncharacteristic communication from the top management at Wal-Mart.