Fred recently became a manager at a local hardware store the employs six managers and 55 non-management employees. As new, larger chains such as Home Depot come to the area, the owner is concerned about losing many of his customers on the basis of price. The management team met and discussed its strategic response. The team determined that the hardware store would focus on particular items and make the personalized service the cornerstone of its effort. Fred's responsibility was to train all non management employees in good customer relations skills; for this he was given a budget of $70,000. Over the past six months, Fred has recieved a number of training brochures from outside organizations. One of the brochures boasted,"Three day workshop, $35,000. We will come in and train all your employees(maximum of 50 per session) so that any customerwho comes to your store once will come again". Another said, "One day seminar on customer service skills. The best in the country. Only $8,000(maximum participants 70". A third said, "Customer satisfaction guaranteed on our customer satisfaction training for sales clerks. Three day workshop, $25,000. Maximum participants 25 to allow for individual help". Fred like the third one because it provided personlized training. He called the company to talk about its offering. The consultant said that by keeping the number small, he would be able
to to provide actual work simulations for each of the trainees. He also indicated that would tailor the simulations to feflect the hardware store. Fred noted they would need two sessions and asked the consultant if he could take a few more per session to accommodate the 55 employees. The consultant agreed. The training went ahead and the cost was under budget by $20,000.
1. Do you agree with Fred's choice and why?
2. What else might Fred do before choosing a training package? Describe your approach in some detail.
3. If training went ahead as indicated, how successful do you think it would be?
1. Without knowing anything about the companies offering the training sessions, I believe Fred has made the best choice and one that seems to provide the greatest value for the price. It is usually not enough to provide customer service training, by using a manual and offering classes or lectures. Most learners do better with hands on examples that are relevant and applicable to the specific work environment. "When more than one method of learning is accessed as in hands-on learning, the information has a better chance of being stored in the memory for useful retrieval" (Haury & Rillero, 1994). Customer service strategies are more likely to be applied when activities such as simulations are included.
2. If I were ...
Customer service strategies are presented in connection with this case.