Cashiers or Customer Service?

February 27, 2017

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”
-Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell Computers

Last week, I read an article in the Washington Post that stopped me in my tracks. It was about saving cashier jobs across America.

As an economic developer, I was dismayed. Does this columnist, obviously a well-educated person, really believe this to be a real economic development strategy? I acknowledge that there are huge number of cashiers, but does this really reflect the broader public’s perspective of how to strengthen the economy and to embrace the future? If so, we are in trouble!

As a person who goes to the grocery store and shops in person occasionally (sorry, Amazon), I have a more personal view. I would most often love to have a real live person check me out politely and help me fulfill my transaction. Other times, I just want to interact with a kiosk or gas pump and not a person (sorry, New Jersey. I’ll pump my own gas and move along).

The underlying issue is that we obviously can’t grow an economy on front line jobs that can be done better and more easily with technology. We must build a strong economic base, and embrace technology and the evolving expectations customers have for speed and quality. We can predict that cashiers will likely succumb to the same technologies that replaced many front-line jobs.

That does not mean that the front lines of customer service aren’t important and even differentiating for certain services and companies. It is human nature to want to be treated well when purchasing something or completing a transaction, and it is increasingly rare.

Here’s something to take notice of this week: If you have a differentiating experience with a company or organization, take the time to not only thank the employee, but also the organization. While they may not lead us to greater economic growth, those who deal most directly with the customer at the point of sale can make or break the client experience.

-Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • The One Columbus Investor Update will be held this week. We look forward to seeing you there—and if you can’t make it, follow along on Twitter with #cbus2020.
  • Also this week, our team is hosting companies evaluating the Columbus Region.
  • Next week, the One Columbus team will attend the Consultants Forum’s Automotive Workshop in Nashville.