When I applied for a position at Wal-Mart I figured I would just be stocking. I didn't care I needed to get to working fast. However I took an online supervisor test and did quite well. I also omitted my CPA license and my master degree. I was desperate! Now most of the time a supervisor at Wal-Mart had worked as an associate for a couple of years and I was able to jump ahead of the rest. Most employees are surprised by this. I leave the topic alone. Even management had to jump through some hoops to get me on because of my lack of Wal-Mart experience. So while I was told I was hired early in the month it was near the end of the month before I was able to start.
The CSM is quite a demanding job to say the least. Now first of all I want to say I love my customers. I've heard people say that before and I thought what a crock. However now I understand what they are saying. Most of our customers will turn in keys, billfolds, purses, and cell phones when they find them. Most will say thank you and be sincere when they do it. Many will share a joke with you as well. Which is really amazing when they stop by after being at work all day, still have kids to take care of, dinner to fix, and who knows what else. Now of course you get the irate customer. Most of the time I don't blame them either and tell them I'm their advocate and have been on that side of the fence. Try to make them a bit happier and then see what I can do to avoid the irritating situation in the future. It's tough to do though. So many factors out of your control including the customers themselves.
I wanted to share a day with you, maybe a typical day. Maybe I should say first I rarely panic or get upset. My joke is that is because I really don't know what's going on. In truth that is because I'm problem solving, looking for a solution or trying to understand what is happening or how the circumstances came to be.
For this post I'm picking Wednesday. There's a reason for that as you will see. When I clock in one of the first things I do is grab a walkie so I can be in contact with the managers. Then I get a Palm Pilot. We use the Palm Pilot as a way to unlock registers, get pricing on the run, or to receive messages like; Need money, carryout, and training assistance. Training Assistance is a catch all phrase saying HELP! The CSM is expected to bring change, audit registers, assist customers, make loans, cashier, balance cash, make sure there enough grocery carts, schedule breaks, talk to associates when they aren't quite doing things right, and make sure the employees get their breaks and lunches. We oversee the Cashiers, Door Greeters, Cart Pushers, Money Center, and Customer Service. We also at times work with pharmacy and vision, and about any other department when necessary. Further we clean the floors, pick up left items, do returns, and whoa, it's a list.
Wednesday I come in and can't find a Walkie. After checking several places another CSM is called to stock what we call 82 items and give me her Walkie. 82 items are basically impulse purchase goods you see along the aisles by the cash registers. After that I need a palm pilot. Well the same CSM has that as well. However that thing is having issues. Mostly coming from connection problems. It keeps rebooting itself. I think sometimes that is from updates in our servers. So I'm fighting the Palm Pilot trying to stay logged on to track the messages. When I finally get signed on long enough to see the messages there 9 of them, 6 wanting change, 2 needed their registers unlocked, and one has a training question. I quickly unlock the 2 registers and head to register #4 to get their cash bag. Register 4 wants 40 ones. I run to the cash office and count out the 40 ones, twice. Those bills can stick together. Take it back to her and she says, sorry but I also need 5s. No problem I do the same for the 5s. Give those to her and she decides she needs a round. A round is 18 dollars in change and 2 one dollar bills. This is annoying. 3 trips to the same register and still I have 5 other registers to that need change plus the training question. So that is settled and I take care of the other 5 registers and along the way unlock about 4 or 5 more registers. Then too the Money Center needs change and I head there twice since she didn't have her order correct the first time.
While grabbing the cash bags I'm near the register with the training question. It seems it's just a simple task and I able to solve it rather quickly. While there another cashier nearby can't get a credit card to work. I say type it in. She does and it still doesn't work. I look at it and instead of using the touchscreen I use the keyboard and it works. Uh! Go figure.
As I head to the cash office again I figure I better do what we call a Change Order. That is where I restock my coins and smaller denomination bills. First I count the cash to make sure we balance and then I count the larger bills to give to management along with a list of what coins and dollars we need in the Cash Office. We make two copies of the list so we know what amount is missing from our till. Comes in real handy when management forgets things like pennies or dollars.
While doing the Change Order I get several calls from register 91 to unlock the register. I attempt but the palm pilot goes down again. Finally I get it done then finish the last resupply of funds to the registers. I step out and hurriedly try to get the cash bags to the cashiers who have customer waiting for change. In doing so an older man curses me and pretty much slanders me. He's ticked that he had to wait so long to receive a refund from register 91. He threatens to call my manager. Fine by me. I do tell him I'm sorry he had to wait. I think to myself, here's a guy who's mad because he had to wait for his refund but then wants to wait to talk to a manager. Call me clairvoyant but I just don't think so and the gentleman marches out of the store.
I answer a few more need change orders and then head to the alley. The alley is the place behind the cash registers where people back up when checking out. In the meantime I help several customers with pricing discrepancies. For instance milk is on sale for 2.99/gallon but is ringing up for $3.35. I run back to dairy and sure enough the customer is right. I've found the customer to be right about 90% of the time. Then I noticed the customers are starting to back up so I get on the walkie and ask for 3 cashiers. They are sent from other departments. Wal-mart teaches everyone to be a cashier, even stockers and maintenance. 3 Cashiers appear and they are pissed at management for whatever reason. After 5 minutes on the registers they leave saying they haven't had their breaks. Why did they even come up?! The lines are backing up into apparel. I call for more cashiers. Now I give cashier quite a bit of latitude and praise. However this was over the top. I see a manager and tell him what happened. Those cashiers are back fast and ticked at me. So be it. Customer comes first.
As always during this rush I'm helping cashiers and customers. That would be settling pricing disputes and unlocking registers. On the latter sometimes that is remotely and at other times that is walking to that register. For instance if we have a cashier who isn't 19 we have to ring up the alcohol. Then sometimes we have to abort a transaction because the customer forgot his/her identification or credit cards. Amazing how much that happens. But when it does frozen food products have to taken back immediately if at all possible. That falls on yours truly.
In regards to the pricing disputes there are some customers who find an item out of place and want the lower price because it was out of place. Not going to happen with me. An item merely 6 inches out of place doesn't call for a price deduction. I see that situation quite a bit. One guy wanted a price break because he said Wal-Mart makes a lot of money. Uh, no! He was serious too. Probably the best story was in that realm of disputes was a lady wanted a $220 electronic paper cutter for 19 bucks. She said she scanned it at a remote terminal and it said the item's price was $19. I said show me. We went back there and sure enough it scanned for $19. However it also said the electronic paper cutter was a little black dress. I said well Ma'am. It's definitely not a dress. She argued a bit more but I repeated what I said, "It's not a black dress." How that happened is beyond me.
I move back to the alley and the lines have dwindled. One thing CSMs try to do is steer people to lines that aren't has busy. I saw a kind looking lady waiting in a fairly long line and the line wasn't moving. I see another line that is very short and take her there. She is grateful. But darn me there's a problem with the customer ahead of her or actually the transaction so she gets stuck again. Some transactions take forever, such as certain gift cards. Some gift cards have to be rung up separately and if a person has 4 gift cards plus groceries you have 5 transactions. Feeling bad for the lady I figure I can ring her up in about 5 minutes. Ooo, not so. I open up a register just for her. 30 minutes later I'm done. Yikes! I'm behind on my cash exchanges and several cashier need assistance. The lady had several pricing discrepancies that had to be over ridden and then sever price matches that require the same. She also wanted her purchases broken down into two transactions and paid partially with gift cards and credit. Those take awhile. Finally we are done and she is so grateful to me for doing that for her.
Now back to helping the cashiers with change, training questions, and unlocking registers both manually and remotely. I get stopped by a cashier. Seems the register isn't accepting a box of cereal using a WIC Voucher. I look at the requirements. Well the WIC requires that Cherios be a 9 oz box or bigger. But that box was 8.9 oz.! WIC is one of the worst things this man has seen. Why not just put the WiC on their EBT card. Go figure. That is solved. The lady just gets a larger box. WIC is just a terrible cashiering nightmare. If someone brings in 4 WIC vouchers for 24 cans of infamil you can't ring up all 24 cans at once. You do each voucher one at a time.
Finally I grab the cash bags, and there are several, to make change. While in there I get several requests to unlock registers. I get a couple unlocked and the Palm Pilot reboots yet again. At this point I am tired. I'm the only CSM on the floor and I'm running to all over the store trying to help everyone. Then too I haven't had a break in 3 hours. Management calls me on the Walkie, Ron, pick up stuff in the aisles, check the carts, we need you in the Alley, also come back to layaway and help a customer carry their purchase out. Silence, Ron are you the only CSM, "Yes I am." Okay, Get the cart pusher to carry it out. Can't we only have one of them too. Ohhhh? Okay, we'll grab someone from stocking.
I quickly finish the exchanging the cash and head out of the cash office to disperse the cash bags to the matching registers. I figure I can just unlock the registers manually instead of waiting for the Palm Pilot to reboot. It takes a while for that thing to reboot. When I get to the register to unlock it I hear the following from a customer that was there on Black Friday. "Ron it's you again, always you isn't it Ron, you are always slow, I spend more time waiting at the register than I do shopping, Ron. You are always the problem aren't you Ron." It went on and on like that in the most condescending tone I have ever heard. It was like this on Black Friday with this guy as well. That's why I remember him. I looked at him and he couldn't even look at me. The customers behind him went silent. Apparently he was causing some edge with them as well. I never addressed him directly but told the cashier the Palm Pilot went down and I had to do this manually and then moved on to other tasks.
Later I reflected on that customer. What was his goal? Faster service or just an opportunity to belittle someone. I figure the latter. Thinking about it I thought what could I have said to him. Sure didn't like the way I was thinking. Then I thought I can't be the only one he does this too. I told another CSM the next day about it and we laughed. I said wonder who he razzes when I'm not around. The other CSM said probably his wife.
Finally after working by myself for 3 and half hours and with no break the night shift CSM comes in. Amen! I'm drained and ready for my very late break. The night CSM complains there is so much to do. I take it personally as if I hadn't done anything. I said I've been here by myself for half the night and then list 20 things I have done in the past half hour. She moves on to other topics.
I get home and I'm just wiped out but proud of how I handled the night. Went to bed and slept almost 9 straight hours while praying I hope I can heal enough to work tomorrow.