I was shopping in my local grocery store (Albertsons) yesterday. My cart was so squeaky and loud that everyone in the store stared at me, as if I could do something about it. Every new isle, every new rounded corner brought upon the gawking of annoyed fellow-shoppers. I swear some were even looking down their nose at me, as if I had just driven a Yugo through their neighborhood streets littered with Mercedes-Benz and Land Rovers.
A quick trip to the Albertsons web site reveals two of their corporate goals:
"...make life easier for our customers" and to offer an "enhanced shopping experience".
I wondered what part of my shopping experience was being enhanced by my screeching cart. (I found an abandoned cart on one of the isles and hoped to make a quick switch. Unfortunately, two of the wheels had large chunks missing from them which would make for both a bumpy and noisy ride.) Really, how hard would it be to pull these broken and noisy carts aside and give them a quick makeover? I'm talking a little WD40, not the complete works.
The ah-ha here is that brand promises, corporate websites and annual reports don't mean squat if you can't deliver on some of the simplest parts of your business.
Companies are spending record dollars hiring branding consultants and launching corporate programs to promote the brand, internally and externally. It makes you wonder...are the "little" things where the customer meets the brand in action (e.g. shopping carts) being overlooked by all of this corporate mumbo jumbo?
As an investor, I'd be impressed by the company's "customer focus"...after all, it's on the corporate web site's home page. But as a customer....nah, not so much.
So, what shape are your company's carts in?