I have been working at Walmart since June of 2012 as a cashier. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you must have heard about Walmart’s reputation for having few lanes open and having long lines where people sometimes get aggravated because it can take awhile to check out. My store is no different.
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I work at a store in South Jersey in a big township where people don’t have a lot of money. My store is one of the more popular stores. People like to shop at my Walmart because they are attracted to the low prices and the wide variety of items. Plus, my store is a “super” Walmart, meaning it has a full grocery in addition to clothes, home, entertainment, and other merchandise. Simply put, it’s one store where you can buy virtually anything.
Image Credits: Walmart.com
During the first week or two of every month our store gets especially crowded. In the beginning of the month everyone gets paid from the government and receives their benefits such as food stamps/EBT, which sadly many people in the township I work for receive. Because Walmart sells so many things people like to use their EBT cards to get both their groceries and other items such as hygiene products from Walmart. I’d estimate the average cost of the an order around the beginning of the month to be about $250 and to have an average of 100 items. As you can imagine, these orders can take a really long time to process no matter how fast of a cashier you are. Now times that by the number of people who crowd the store and you’ve got a bit of a stressful situation, which at times can feel like a complete catastrophe of 6 or more people in your line with hundreds of items to scan at every hour of the day.
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As a cashier you try hard to get everyone taken care of as quickly as possible, usually in fear of getting yelled at or causing customers to become even more angry or irritated for having to wait so long. I myself am known as one of the fastest cashiers at my store. I recently won an award for placing second in the scans per hour contest. I am proud of this achievement and have been working to keep up the pace in hopes of placing first in the near future.
I often get complimented on by customers for processing their orders so rapidly. However, the other day I receieved a comment from a customer that was a suggestion or tip, rather than a compliment and it made me really think and reconsider my speed. He told me just one word “smile”.
Customers want their orders to be processed quickly, yes, but that’s not all they want. They want to know that their service is appreciated. They want to feel welcomed. A customer’s experienced can be enhanced so much by something as small as a warm smile and a kind gesture. A smile can show a customer that you are happy to serve them and appreciative of their business. When working in retail especially for a busy store in the beginning of the month, this can be hard to remember.
I laughed a little when my customer told me to smile. I tried to lighten up a bit and focus slightly less on my speed and more on treating the customer with a warm heart. His advice hit me hard and I became a bit self conscious thinking to myself “Wow, do I really look that miserable? I’m not trying to be miserable or show that I’m stressed…I just want to be fast so people are happy…”
Then I remembered a YouTube video that one of my Twitter friends, Brian Humek, founder of PizzaSpotz sent me a few months back. The video is called “Validation” and can really show how much a simple gesture such as a smile can change someone’s day around and warm their heart. The video is a bit on the long side, but totally worth watching the whole way through! Check it out and next time you have to deal with customers on a tight schedule remember to take the time to smile, it could make their day!
Video Credits: Kurt Kuenne