A thought occurred to me the last time I was in our local Costco store in Mettawa, Illinois. For the most part, the Costco associates are often preoccupied with their work and tasks that need to get done and not always focused on the members (customers). According to my experience, this not only applies to the Mettawa Costco but several other Costco Wholesalers I’ve visited during the last 8 years or so.
On the other hand, when I think about how Target handles customer service in the retail space, it’s quite different. Perhaps it’s a recent phenomenon but it appears in the Target stores that I have recently visited management instructs their associates to greet you – especially if they think you’re lost or can’t find something on your grocery list. I’m not suggesting Costco adopt that same policy although it would be useful if Costco associates often made you feel comfortable about asking for assistance. Perhaps send out a few “floaters” that are designated to handle the needs of shoppers as they peruse the store.
In terms of the checkout area, I’ve also noticed my Target stores are very focused on mitigating the amount of time you have to wait before you are serviced. I’ve noticed recently floor managers will call associates from other parts of the store as they see more and more customers make their way to the checkout area. Costco gets a mixed grade when it comes to ringing up customers. They’ll try sometimes to handle the excess of shoppers to the checkout area – often, they start “behind the eight ball” as only have 3 lanes open when they should have 6 so lanes open so handling additional shoppers often takes more time to handle the extra rush. Not bad, but not as proactive or anticipatory as they could be.
It’s helpful when Costco associates at the checkout area will ask you, “Did you find everything?” I appreciate the customer focus but the question needs to be asked 10 or 15 minutes prior to checkout. Again, having those “floaters” would improve their service throughout the store – regardless of your shopping stage. Sometimes, after being asked, “Did I find everything?”, I mutter to myself, “Where were you 15 minutes ago?”
I’m beginning to seek out the CDS associates who work in the Mettawa Costco. You know, the vendor who partners with Costco who provide free samples of various products in various parts of the store. Believe it or not, these associates may be more familiar with the inventory and location of Costco goods. Moreover, these associates may not be shy about telling you how familiar they are with the location of store items – especially the food items.
Have you found that Costco could do a better job being more customer centric inside their store?