Customer Service Variability in Retail

Why is it that some retail or fast food establishments have universally poor customer service and some are fine?

I have NEVER been to a Wendy’s, for example, that had anything beyond “barely passable” customer service. By that I mean the cashiers are borderline rude, service is slow, orders are frequently wrong, dining rooms are often dirty, etc.

Compared to, say, an In-n-Out Burger… the experience is vastly different. Is it simply a matter of employee salary? Is it franchisees gone wild? Is the clientele significantly different?

The same could be said about Wal*Mart vs Target, i.e. the “experience” at Target is generally more pleasant with few exceptions. Am I imagining this?

I dunno. To be perfectly honest, I rarely feel I get ‘bad’ service regardless of where I go.

It could be the difference between franchises and corporate-owned stores. I doubt employee salaries matter as much as the manager’s salary. If the manager isn’t feeling compelled to ensure the dining room is cleaned and stocked, there’s no way regardless of who you hire, the staff will care enough to do it on their own.

My opinion is that it’s almost always a function of management. Management’s ability to train, motivate, lead and follow up will make all the difference in the world in how customers are treated - and how really interested the employees are in performing well.
I think the experience for the customer can be very different from branch to branch of the same franchises for this reason.
It’s almost always management.

No. Wal-Mart is often considered the employment of last resort, and is not known for its knowledgeable or helpful sales force. It has not always been this way - though no one remembers it now, there was a time when Wal-Mart was better known for its service and selection than for its rock-bottom prices. The shift came around the time Sam Walton passed away, and it has not abated.

I’ve always had impeccable service at Ace Hardware. Then again, I don’t go there all that much, so perhaps my expectations are low.

No. Although I have to say the Wendy’s around here is fine.

The one that makes me cringe is the difference between food service staff at Disney and the food service staff a few miles down the road at Universal. At Disney, those people move like their jobs depend on it…and with a smile. At Universal, it seems to be “if we throw six more employees moving really slow behind the counter - none of which know how to run the register - we MIGHT reach the speed of one competent employee.”

With regard to service at fast food establishments, I have always seen a correlation between the quality of service and the general economy.

Poor service = good economy
Great service = bad economy

I suspect the most important factor is who owns the franchise. The Wendy’s near me is fine - I’ve never had a problem.

The conference I’m involved with went to the Disneyland Hotel, so I got to see some of their marketing. Of all the convention bureau’s I’ve seen, Disney had far more of a focus on us rather than them. Not - we have good food and big meeting rooms but rather here is what we can do for your attendees.
But the most impressive thing was that even reasonably high level staff would pick up and throw away trash they spotted on the ground.
After we signed things got back to more normal, but getting wined and dined by Disney is awesome.