Why do customers not trust technology?

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 5, 2007
5,177
1,183
This has got to be my number one pet peeve in retail, and that is, when a customer asks you to check the back for something.

We have a process at Walmart, and that is, when a customer asks you for something, and it isn't on the shelf, you take your Gemini scanner (Telxon), and you zap the shelf tag...now my screen will tell me if there is anything in the back room or not. If it is in the back room, it'll give me the shelf location number of where it is in the back room.

So I then say to the customer, "it doesn't say there is anything in the back room, do you want me to check another store?"...of course for most customers, this answer just doesn't seem good enough, and they want me to *physically go check the back*

What most people don't realize is that everything in the back room is just in plain brown boxes, with barcode labels on it. There isn't ANYTHING to *physically go check*, when the system wants something out (called a pick), it will automatically tell the back room team to bring it out, and give them the box number, and location number of the item. If you want to manually get something out, you have to scan the tag on the shelf location, and then let the system know you want it out of the back room. You can't just go back there, and grab something, and bring it out.

Another thing is that when a customer asks you to call a manager, all you have to do is go to a register, and type in a code. I go to a register, and type in the code, and this isn't good enough for Mr. Customer. The customer would then stand there and go "why aren't you calling them?", I explained to them that I typed in the code, and they said, "just pick up the phone and call them"

This isn't all, but this is just some of it, my biggest pet peeve is that they don't trust our retail tech or something.

My second pet peeve, is when they buy 200 different flavors of something, and only put one on the belt, and say "I have 10 of them"....I explain that they all have to be individually scanned because of the fact they are different flavors, and the customer blurts out "its all the same price, why does it matter"?......I swear its like people DON'T KNOW how a store works or something. Have they EVER heard of inventory at all? The system won't know to order more thanks to this imbecile who thinks that the only reason we scan stuff is because of price.

Don't even get me started when customers ask me computer questions, and then proceed to deny everything I say because *I work at Walmart*

</rant over>
 
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maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,857
30,381
Boston
I'd say its not that people are not trusting technology and more that they are unaware how a store handles inventory. Clearly there are retailers that do use a back room and having a sales associate to check the back room has proved beneficial.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
24,988
7,935
Detroit
I guess because some people don't trust that the data entered into the stores computer is accurate, and, I'm sure, there are times when that is true, and they'd feel better if a human went and physically looked. This is true especially since the average customer doesn't know how the store operates and therefore they are left to assume things on their own.

As far as calling the manager, one thing that could mitigate their frustration, and subsequently yours, is explain to them as your doing it, that by entering a code into the register that it is silently alerting the manager to their need, and one will respond promptly. Explain that the store doesn't normally use the telephone anymore and uses this new, automated system.

At least that way they know and understand what's going on. Being in the dark on things leads people to get upset, frustrated and thinking that nothing is being done. If they're being kept up-to-date as things are being worked on, it gives them a sense of knowing what is going on and can be more acceptable of it.
 
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dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 5, 2007
5,177
1,183
I guess because some people don't trust that the data entered into the stores computer is accurate, and, I'm sure, there are times when that is true, and they'd feel better is a human went and physically looked. This is true especially since the average customer doesn't know how the store operates and therefore they are left to assume things on their own.

As far as calling the manager, one thing that could mitigate their frustration, and subsequently yours, is explain to them as your doing it, that by entering a code into the register is silently alerting the manager to their need, and one will respond promptly. Explain that the store doesn't normally use the telephone anymore and uses this new, automated system.

At least that way they know and understand what's going on. Being in the dark on things leads people to get upset, frustrated and thinking that nothing is being done. If they're being kept up-to-date as things are being worked on, it gives them a sense of knowing what is going on and can be more acceptable of it.
I can see where the customers are coming from however about the back room, but everything that does come off the truck is immediately scanned in by the people unloading the truck. Also, as stated, there really isn't anything you CAN check, because they are come in plain brown boxes, with the back room barcode labels on them. To get it out, you scan that barcode, and then, and only then will you really know what the item is being scanned out. The system will tell the back room team periodically pick out "Item #55122222" from "002/004/002" with the last number meaning which level on the shelf its on, 1 is the highest, 2 is the second from the top, etc). And if a sales floor associate scans a shelf tag, it will let them know where the item is in the back room...if its back there. Where would you look if you don't have the location numbers to find out where the item is?

And for the calling the manager thing, I do explain to them, but it does not seem good enough. We use codes on the register for everything from calling the Manager, to getting a spill cleaned up, to letting a cart runner know that a heavy item needs lifting. You type in the code, and the handheld of the proper associate beeps.

They also are *college aged* so they should be used to technology like this, because their lives pretty much revolve around tech.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
24,988
7,935
Detroit
I can see where the customers are coming from however about the back room, but everything that does come off the truck is immediately scanned in by the people unloading the truck. Also, as stated, there really isn't anything you CAN check, because they are come in plain brown boxes, with the back room barcode labels on them. To get it out, you scan that barcode, and then, and only then will you really know what the item is being scanned out. The system will tell the back room team periodically pick out "Item #55122222" from "002/004/002" with the last number meaning which level on the shelf its on, 1 is the highest, 2 is the second from the top, etc).

And for the calling the manager thing, I do explain to them, but it does not seem good enough. We use codes on the register for everything from calling the Manager, to getting a spill cleaned up, to letting a cart runner know that a heavy item needs lifting. You type in the code, and the handheld of the proper associate beeps.

They also are *college aged* so they should be used to technology like this, because their lives pretty much revolve around tech.
The most you can do is educate everyone that asks or complains and if they choose not to accept it, well, that's their problem as there isn't much else you can do about it.
 

jacobclause

macrumors member
May 22, 2014
70
0
people don't trust technology because there is no visible evidence you did anything. They want you to use a telephone to call a manager so they can hear you talk to them. They want you to walk to the back so they can see you making an effort to do something. Technology gives no physical proof of action.
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 5, 2007
5,177
1,183
people don't trust technology because there is no visible evidence you did anything. They want you to use a telephone to call a manager so they can hear you talk to them. They want you to walk to the back so they can see you making an effort to do something. Technology gives no physical proof of action.
There is visible evidence, they see you using the technology...and in my shoes, explaining the technology to every customer that questions it.
 

pvmacguy

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2009
1,112
28
Jax
Technology is only as good as the people inputing the data into that tech. So your inventory in walmart is most likely always off becuase of the calliber of staff.

Most people want you to go check in the back becuase chances are, they have had it before where someone "forgot" to scan something in and low and behold there was a case of poduct on the back shelf.
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 5, 2007
5,177
1,183
Technology is only as good as the people inputing the data into that tech. So your inventory in walmart is most likely always off becuase of the calliber of staff.

Most people want you to go check in the back becuase chances are, they have had it before where someone "forgot" to scan something in and low and behold there was a case of poduct on the back shelf.
In order to put something into a "bin" you must first scan the bin, then the box label. If someone "forgot" to scan something they definitely are missing a major part of their duties, therefore should be coached.

And the boxes are plain, so I don't know how a customer would want us to physically check.

Yes I realize I could pretend to check, but I shouldn't have to, that in itself is lying, and if anything lying is unethical- unless this would be considered a "white lie"
 

Osarkon

macrumors 68020
Aug 30, 2006
2,161
4
Wales
Completely understand this.

Get it absolutely every day.

What's worse is I know my stock levels pretty well, so if I tell a customer there aren't any out the back, I know there aren't any.

Yet they won't leave until they see me physically walk out there and back.

I actually had one customer just stare at me when I said we didn't have any, until I had to say 'you want me to go out and look despite knowing its out of stock, don't you' to which he did.

Idiotic.
 

sdilley14

macrumors 65816
Feb 8, 2007
1,232
190
Mesa, AZ
I don't know if it is people not trusting technology. For me, I would be more concerned with the person using the technology not using it correctly. I could see a person using a scanner at Wal-Mart, telling me that they're out of stock, and thinking to myself "hmmm...wonder if they're actually using that scanner correctly? Have the scanner "set up" correctly? Scanning the right barcode?", etc. Or I could also see someone scanning an item, seeing that they actually do have the item in stock, but saying they don't because they don't want to walk all the way to "the back" to get the item.

Summary: I would be more concerned with human competency and laziness as opposed to accuracy with technology.
 

JackieInCo

Suspended
Jul 18, 2013
5,178
1,584
Colorado
I bought an HD TV a few months back at Walmart at about 3AM. The guy scanned the code and went back to look. He came back a few times saying he couldn't find the TV. he went back a few more times and finally came back out with the TV I wanted. Took about 45 minutes in all for him to find it.

I never did find out what the scanner showed if it showed it was in stock or not. He wasn't to confident in it himself.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,547
7,802
CT
Maybe it's different now but back in the day the system only updated daily. So if you didn't manually check something off the list the count would be wrong. What happened often was overselling. Someone said yup we have that in stock when in reality we were in the negative.
 

Jessica Lares

macrumors G3
Oct 31, 2009
9,200
722
Near Dallas, Texas, USA
Earlier this year, I went to Best Buy looking for a Wacom tablet. One guy told me they didn't carry them anymore, another walked me to where they had them all right there. :rolleyes:

I don't think it has anything to do with the technology, it's more that people have lost all respect for those that work in retail for one reason or another. Self checkout wouldn't be as big as it is if people were afraid of technology.

But people need to be more respectful of things not being in stock in a grocery store.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,409
I guess as much as many people **** all over Walmart and their employees, it's only fair they get some back. :D
 

senseless

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2008
1,762
152
Pennsylvania, USA
I've had a few wasted trips going to a different Home Depot for something that was supposed to be "in stock" at the other store, but really wasn't.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors 604
May 28, 2005
7,985
533
Pennsylvania
People don't trust technology because it isn't fool proof.

Let me elaborate:

I've worked in Toys R Us, and I worked in Barnes and Noble. Toys R Us had a terrible system, and it was very possible for us to have negative stock count and have the item in stock. All it takes is a write-down due to shrink that turns up at a later date to throw the entire system out of wack. Barnes and Noble was better at stock management, but due to the number of titles that we would only carry 1 or 2 of, it meant that just because it was "in stock" didn't mean you could find that 1 copy in a sea of 10,000 books.

edit: In fact, Barnes and Noble's official policy was that we never ever ever ever ever tell a customer that we have a book unless we physically have it in our hands, because otherwise it might be a book we have 1 copy of, and it was mis-shelved. Even though the computer said we have 10 in stock. And yes, I've seen that happen.

In my opinion, it sounds to me like you're annoyed because customers have a legitimate question, and WalMart doesn't give you the tools (something like see thru boxes) to help them. You get upset, and turn your anger in the corporation into angst at customers.
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 5, 2007
5,177
1,183
it might be a book we have 1 copy of, and it was mis-shelved.
It is not really possible to mis-shelve an item at Walmart, due to the fact that you are *required* to scan items before placing it on the shelf, you scan the box label, and it'll return a "mod location" which the mod location looks like this
"Aisle M23 002-001-001" which then you look at the price labels, for "002-001-001" and then place the item there, the system will also tell you the "shelf cap" which is how much you're allowed to put out. Anyone who skips this crucial step actually will be coached (written up).

The only time something is mis-shelved, is if a customer moved the item, or just put it back wherever. Which then a team called the "mod team" goes around fixing this, by scanning them and finding out where it actually is supposed to go.

Items are mapped out by Home-Office, and then when the picks come out and you stock, you just scan each item into it's location.

You can also scan the label at the bottom of all the shelves, and it will tell you every item that's supposed to be in that section, or on what shelf.

This also explains the gap that Walmart leaves when the item is out of stock, because the system doesn't want another item there, and you're not supposed to "plug the hole" with another item, you are supposed to leave the gap, so "the mod is correct." If you do fill the gap with another item, you have to go through this long and tedious process to "item locate" the new item, so the system knows where the new item you just decided to place there is.

Honestly the only other store I have seen a system similar to ours, is Target. Other stores, yes still does stuff the old fashioned way.
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
1,317
11,838
Midlife, Midwest
I think this is possibly an issue you need to bring up with your management.

Because it is obviously an issue that your staff needs training on how to handle this sort of request in a way that satisfies the customer, without wasting employees time.

It seems to me that Wal-Mart (or indeed any retailer) needs to have a way of politely addressing a customer's request - without either lying to them, or insulting them.

I guess I would say something like: "I'm sorry, but we simply don't have the item in stock at this location. If the product isn't on the shelf or in our store inventory - it really isn't here. But I'd be happy to give you a rain check, call you when we get new stock - or call another location so you can get it today."

The worst thing you can do is argue with them. And the second worst thing would be to pretend to go and look for something you know isn't there. Thats simply wasting everyone's time.
 

moogoos

macrumors newbie
Jun 14, 2014
14
0
Dude find another job. You're stressing over **** like this? It's walmart man. What do you expect and it's retail.