Changing Customs?

The Chicago Department of Aviation announced that O’Hare International Airport will be implementing a new procedure in order to reduce the time that customers stand in the customs line. The new procedure is for U.S. passport holders who are returning to the United States on international flights, to improve their customer service experience with customs officials and decrease wait time in line. It is intended that by July 1st, in the midst of the travel season, customers will no longer fill out the paper customs declaration forms on the plane. Instead, after departing the plane, U.S. passport holders will be directed to a self-service kiosk. Once they are at the kiosk, the U.S. passport holder will scan his/her passport to start the claiming process, all before any interaction with a customs official.  The customer is then issued a receipt from the machine, with the answers to questions they have answered at the kiosk, to give to the customs official for verification.

This new customs process is an adaption to keep customers satisfied by keeping lines short. The new procedure also includes a few of the five service dimensions that we have learned in class. O’Hare is demonstrating the second service dimension, responsiveness. Implementing the self-service kiosks is in response to the additional four international airlines that will be servicing out of O’Hare this summer.  The Chicago Department of Aviation, allowing O’Hare to use the new self-service kiosk devices, is also showing empathy towards the customers. O’Hare and The Chicago Department of Aviation are considering and empathizing with customers by recognizing the stressfulness of standing in line for hours and waiting to complete the customs process upon re-entry into the county. The tangible service dimension is also considered in the new and, what is expected to be improved, paperless customs process. The whole process of communicating with the customs officials is being altered with this new equipment.

The system has been tested with the Canada Border Services Agency and has proved to be useful at the Vancouver International Airport over the past year. The successful trial in Vancouver encouraged The Chicago Department of Aviation to put the new self-service kiosk into action at O’Hare International Airport. This new technology is a breakthrough improvement. There has been little to no change to improve and expedite the re-entry in to the U.S. customs process in the recent past.  This new change is much needed.

Personally, after first hand experiences of standing in the customs control line for hours, I am excited for the self-service kiosks to be put into action. For frequent fliers, once they learn the new technology, they will be flying through the line.

How do you feel about the self-service kiosks for the purpose of speeding up the process of re-entry into the United States? Do you think this will be helpful/beneficial to both travelers and customs officials? Do you foresee any problems that may arise from this change?,0,4807141.story?track=rss

Kroger’s Enhanced Technology for a Quicker Checkout

We live in a society dependent on technology and in the world of business, technology has helped in developing various systems to improve day-to-day business activities and satisfy both the consumers and the producers.

Customers are always anticipating the endless wait in checkout lines.  Sometimes if feels like the line has not moved for the past 10 minutes, but switching to a different line puts them at a risk that it might be even longer. Is the item really worth waiting in line for? Is it easier to bail and just buy it online or at a different store? Numerous retail stores are trying to find new ways to get the shoppers through with ease as online shopping is increasing and as long lines threaten sales and loss of loyal customers. 

 Kroger Co., a supermarket giant, has installed infrared cameras to aid in lengthy checkout lines in about 2,400 its stores. The cameras, which detect body heat and have been used in the past by the military for surveillance purposes, are paired with Kroger’s in-house software in order to decide the number of lanes that need to be open. Not only has this new technology allowed the stores to operate with lower labor expenses, but it also has reduced the customer’s average wait time spent in line. 

Competition in the retail industry is high and for companies to enhance the shopping experience and speed up service for each of their customers is a top-notch priority. Since the checkout lines are the last thing the customer experiences, the longer the  time is wasted waiting in line, the less satisfied the customer is leaving the store. The ultimate focus for Kroger and any other business is its consistent customers, and according to Kroger’s surveys, the customers believe the checkout speed has been much quicker since the installment of the cameras.

Kroger’s system, QueVision, which is now in about 95% of its stores, forecasts the length of time customers spend shopping based on the time and day as well as determines the number of lanes that need to be open. In addition, QueVision data shows the amount as well as type of items purchased by the times of day, and by adding more express lanes and boosting certain orders, Kroger has improved its operations as sales have increased by 13% in the past year.

Kroger’s goal is to please their customers so that they enjoy their entire experience so much that they will come back again and again. They are gradually improving the QueVision software system to predict shopping behavior and fix the checkout lanes procedure in order to get the shoppers out more quickly and make the checkout experience the best that it can be.

The most important way to create loyal customers is to understand their shopping trips and make them as personalized as possible so they will always come back. Making improvements is a continuous process. What other approaches could retailers take to better the overall shopping experience?



The Customer is ALWAYS Right…even when they’re Wrong

Customer Service…where you repeatedly say the same thing as if you’ve never said it before.

I work for DePaul University Housing Services as a student front desk assistant. My place of        employment is customer service oriented. The front desk acts as the first line of defense for the department, answering the questions from students and parents who have various concerns and issues about campus housing.

The concerns of students and parents can range from being wait listed  to not receiving their preferred building, room type, or roommate. Some of our callers/guests receive undesirable information pleasantly and with understanding while others do not. Those are the guests that have to be handled with care.

It is important for me to approach each call/guest with a fresh approach giving them clear, consistent and correct information while ensuring that their individual needs are met. Doing this lowers the chance of receiving angry feedback. This brings me to the ‘5 Service Dimensions’-Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance, Empathy, and Tangibles.

Reliability & Responsiveness consists of doing whatever you promise to your customers while being willing to help and respond to customers promptly. This should be taken seriously so that your customers can depend on your service or product. When I am on a call and the manager/coordinator needed to resolve a minor issue is unavailable, I take their name and number so that I can gather the information and call them back with a direct answer versus sending them to a voicemail. It is my responsibility to call them back as soon as I have the information. This is done so that the customer understands that their issue is important to our department

Assurance consists of being an expert in whatever information you are conveying to your customer about your product or service. You simply have to know what you are talking about. When I first started this position, I was not well versed in policies, deadlines, procedures, etc. I listened to my supervisor and to my fellow student workers while they were on calls and speaking to guests, along with reading the department procedures. Now, 2 years in, I can regurgitate information in my sleep. If you are an expert in your field, receiving an angry caller is not a big deal because you are able to inform them of clear, CONSISTENT information.

Empathy consists of caring about your customers and whatever issue they may have. Whenever I am on an unpleasant call, it is important that I put myself in their shoes and try to understand where they are coming from so that I can assist them to the best of my ability.

Tangibles consist of physical appearance of service environment and product. We have to make sure that the Department is organized, clean, and professional. This is not only benefits our guests but us as well. It is always easier to navigate and work in an organized space.

Regarding customer service, which service dimension is the most challenging for you?


Best Buy’s Comeback?

Would you rather go to Best Buy or shop online for the best deals? Most of us have become so accustomed to shopping online in the comfort of our own time and place. The internet has become a life saver for people who don’t know much about technology, in helping find out more information about products and finding the best deals. So, then why go to Best Buy?

Best Buy is relying on an employee who worked there for 26 years to help the business fix one main problem that has been bringing the corporation down tremendously, it’s customer service. Shawn Score, Best Buy’s senior vice president of U.S retail agrees that when it comes to customer service, Best Buy has let go. This is a big issue for Best Buy, mostly because 90% of its revenue comes from the stores.


Score says he has a white binder on his desk with a list of “pain points” which catalog some of the main reasons why customers walk out of Best Buy: uninterested employees and out of stock items. Ever since Score was approached by Chief Executive Hubert Joly, he has been improving the stores with the lessons he’s learned from running Best Buy’s small mobile outlets.

Some of the things that Score has been changing in the stores are mainly for the employees. He’s encouraged more sales training so that the employees know a lot more about the products they’re selling. Score began an incentive pay to reward workers for increasing sales and customer satisfaction. He made sure that managers also schedule employees accordingly, so that the most experienced ones worked on the weekends when the stores are the busiest. These fixes have decreased Best Buy’s loss to a certain extent, from $1.82 billion last year to $409 billion in February 2013. 

These numbers might look promising for the future, however in the long run, there are many customers like John Hopper who no longer rely on the advices of Best Buy employees for things he needs to buy. Hopper has turned to the internet for his research purposes. According to Best Buy, 20% of electronics are bought online. This might seem like a small number but when Best Buy faces its online competitors who don’t have high operating costs because of labor and leases, it is a big deal.

Score is attempting to bring more customers into the store and actually make a sale. While, the sales rates haven’t improved, their customer service scores have gone up. Best Buy has also doubled its shares but is this enough for Best Buy to make a comeback? Best Buy has to take a lot of things into consideration at this point. In class we’ve learned about the ten critical decisions such as inventory managing, human resources, intermediate and short term scheduling. Will Best Buy be able to make strong decisions for the future? Do you think that they’re on the right path, considering that their customer service is improving or will online shopping take over?


Video: – From last April.

Bidding for Luxury: A New Way to Fly?

The allure of flying first class has clearly diminished in recent years, leaving Airlines scrambling for an initiative to maintain their organizational element of luxury. What has become of this growing issue is an interesting concept that will be implemented quite soon. Airlines have begun the transition to auctioning off business class seats, and not in the conventional manner of going to a Kiosk. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Bids for premium seats that otherwise might fly empty begin online weeks in advance and typically close 48 hours before takeoff.” These auctions are also applicable to other seating arrangements that may be more appealing to customers. Essentially, those seated in coach can upgrade to premium (if that option exists on the particular flight), and premium customers can bump themselves up to the elite business class. Plusgrade, the company responsible for designing the auctioning system, allow carriers to determine exactly how they will handle premium seat bidding, and which customers will be given the chance to participate. Rather than let many of these seats go unfilled and thus wasted, airlines are considering organizational efficiency in finding a way to get people to buy in. There is a strong correlation between overall economic certainty and luxurious commodities such as business class seating, and this relationship is evident in the statistics. Figures show a parallel decline in business class purchases and the economy, the former of which has yet to truly recover since the downturn.

The auctioning concept, which has yet to reach domestically, represents the quality management idea of reengineering, a portion of breakthrough improvement. The concept is considered radical redesign because it is a complete change of pace for the industry. In a time where most airlines seem to be ignoring the common customer’s needs in an attempt to cut costs, auctioning provides mutual benefits for both parties. Airlines can still charge insane face values for top tier seating, while giving the average customer an opportunity to experience first class. There is also the element of the unknown, and risk associated with an auction, which livens up a usually dull experience.

Airlines have taken a cautious approach to implementing auctions for seating, and have used a method quite similar to the Deming Cycle of Plan-Do-Study-Act. Rather than introduce the market to an idea this revolutionary in relation to the industry, many airline companies have done trial periods to gauge the level of consumer interest. After some successful trials in 2012 multiple companies, including El Al a popular Israeli airline, have introduced the concept in full in 2013.

I was once lucky enough to fly first class because of an error made by the airline company, and can say for certain that is an amazing experience. Still, the luxury associated with premium travel has declined in recent years, and for many it is frankly unattainable. By offering these unsold seats to others at a potentially discounted rate, it will hopefully introduce a whole new class of people to a whole new class of travel.

Saving Minutes With Facebook

Facebook has come out with a messenger app that allows free voice calling for iPhone users. How convenient would that be?! Instead of using our minutes, we could get free minutes! That is like a dream come true, right? There are positives and negatives about this app as well. Because this is a new app, it is understandable that there might be a few glitches, like almost every new product out there.

Some positives about this new free calling messenger app is:

1. This app does not need to be updated in order to be used.

2. You save your minutes! It is really helpful if you just happened to use all of your minutes, or your family used them up for you if you have a family plan.

3. You can get free calling in a tap of a button. There will be a circled “I” icon in the conversation that the user is in. The user can press that button and tap free call to have this free messenger app call the person.

4. You can leave voice messages.

5. This is like a regular messenger where there are emoticons that you can choose from.

Based on the following positive traits stated in the article, it does seem tempting to just switch over to Facebook. It is a phone and a regular messenger all in one! You can call, leave voice messages, and emoticons! Because I could leave “stickers”, which are emoticons, I would assume that I can leave text messages as well. Then again, there would have to be more information about the texting.

According to this article, the only negative to the new Facebook messenger app is that the quality is really poor. The sound of the other person was fuzzy and tinny. I would not want to spend time to just understand what the person is saying on the other side. People do not like lag! They want this convenient. Don’t you just not like it when someone is talking, and they are cutting up and you can’t hear what they are saying? In this situation, I get frustrated and want to attempt to make my internet faster. This is, again, understandable because it is a new app.

I have rarely seen a new released product that does not have a negative side to it. Because Facebook let people sample on them, they would get their feedback and, I would hope, further enhance the new messenger. By doing this, they would need an update.

Question: Would this new Facebook app be a new trend? I know there are many other messengers out there that have free texting and free calling, but they only give you so many minutes. After you use them up, you would have to pay for them. Therefore, with unlimited minutes, would people start to just go over to the Facebook application for calling, even with low quality? If this Facebook messenger application was enhanced with higher quality, would you decide to switch over to use this new Facebook messenger app?



Nine Retailers with the WORST Customer Service


In today’s changing world the product is no longer the most important thing in the shopping process, people are beginning to care more about customer satisfaction, especially in the retail industry. Although its true that customer satisfaction is improving, not all retailers are keeping up with today’s expectations, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

Brick and mortar are still the highest rated retailers; however e-commerce is beginning to excel as well. On the negative side, traditional retailers are the ones that are receiving the most negative assessments.

Although many traditional retailers remain with good or average scores, especially the ones that compete with online shops.

In the latest ACSI study, the average for retail companies was 76.6 of a 100-point scale in 2012. With the exception of Internet retail, which is considered as e-commerce for ACSI. This Industry got an 82 score, and from the nine worst rated retailers from ACSI scores, there was just one online retailer.

But even an “average” score, can be considered bad for business, because customer expectations are very important for a company’s score. However customers are lowering their expectations. They’re not actually looking for better shopping experience in the traditional retailers, and for internet retail is the other way around, customers are expecting more of them.

The businesses that failed to impress customers last year have been having a difficult time for many years. As we learned in class, many companies go under because they failed to understand what the customer really wanted. For example, Safeway has been struggling with customer satisfaction for the past 10 years.

For other companies underperforming is a relatively new obstacle, like the case of Netflix, that outperformed average for four years and in 2009 was rated the top retailers, but in the past two years the Internet video retailer has been considered the worst Internet rated company.

Although traditional retailers are struggling to keep customers satisfied, they still have the majority of the sales, but its probable that if Internet retailers continue outperforming in customer satisfaction (compared to traditional retailers) they will gain brick and mortar market share eventually.


Nine retailers with worst customer service:

9. Walgreens– Health/ Personal care

• Customer satisfaction score: 76

• 12-month revenue: $70.79 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 22.42%

8. TJX Companies — retail

• Customer satisfaction score: 76

• 12-month revenue: $25.88 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 20.18%

7. Gap — Retail

• Customer satisfaction score: 76

• 12-month revenue: $15.65 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 45.84%

6. Supervalu — supermarkets

• Customer satisfaction score: 76

• 12-month revenue: $34.77 billion

• One-yr. share price change: -35.60%

5. Sears — department Store

• Customer satisfaction score: 75

• 12-month revenue: $39.85 billion

• One-yr. share price change: -34.60%

4. CVS– health/personal care

• Customer satisfaction score: 75

• 12-month revenue: $123.13 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 15.95%

3. Safeway –– supermarkets

• Customer satisfaction score: 75

• 12-month revenue: $44.21 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 13.60%

2. Netflix – e-commerce

• Customer satisfaction score: 75

• 12-month revenue: $3.61 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 70.80%

1. Wal-Mart — department store

• Customer satisfaction score: 71

• 12-month revenue: $469.16 billion

• One-yr. share price change: 22.65%


Sources Cited:

A Race Against the Clock, Again, in Package Delivery

In this day in age, technology has allowed people to do this in unbeatable times. With the iPhone you can instantly download and start using an app within seconds. People expect things to be done correctly and instantly. People expect to have access to items within minutes not days. Delivery services are trying to keep up with people’s high demand in quick delivery services. Customers are able to purchases items online in mere meets, but are obligated to wait days to see their new purchases. Companies like Kozmo have attempted to shorten the delivery times, but have failed in doing so. The United States Postal Service has decided to take on this challenge.

The USPS has decided to experiment in same day delivery of online orders within San Francisco. This new type of delivery will be called Metro Post. The way Metro Post will work is that it will pick up goods ordered online from participating retails in the city before 2pm and plans to delivery to homes from 4pm to 8pm. In order for this to be successful, the United States Postal Service Metro Post packages will go through a different processing center by being directly passed between Post Service employees. A flat rate will be charged for any packages less than twenty-five pounds, but the pricing has yet to be released.


The USPS is hoping that this faster type of delivery will bring in more income. Other companies have already developed fast delivery options. Last Month, Wal-Mart announced that it will do same day delivery orders in a few cities. In addition, in lower Manhattan Urban Fetch showcases over 10,000 products that can be delivered within an hour. There is no delivery fee from Urban Fetch as long as the order is over $100.  Recent news has shared the United States Postal Service has been experiencing troubling times. Their finances have gone from bad to worse.


In class, we have discussed the important of customer satisfaction as well as quality. While faster delivery options would appeal to more clients, it’s important to still provide quality products. When things are rushed, more accidents tend to occur. I’m curious to see if USPS will be able to provide fast delivery that is accurate. When packages are being delivered, they are jostled around. It’s essential that USPS remembers to not only deliver products in a timely manner, but to still deliver them in one piece. Do you think people are becoming too impatient? Do you feel that same day delivery will provide quality work? What suggestions would you give the United States Postal Service in order to make same day delivery be successful? Is there a type of inspection process that would beneficial to the United States Postal Service?

Walgreens Inventory Management System


As early as 1994, Walgreens has been ahead of its competitors regarding inventory systems. Taking on new technology, which is defined as SIMS technology (strategic inventory management systems), which previously had not been applied to the pharmaceutical sales industry. This early technological approach to dealing with issues of inventory, such as over and under stocking, greatly benefitted Walgreens in the long run. This benefit was able to be transmitted to consumers as well as net profits for Walgreens due to their ability to track their inventory in all facets of its movement. The systems implemented by Walgreens allowed it to eliminate a great deal of its excess as well as virtually eradicate under stocking. However ultimately, what was most significant is what this process allowed Walgreens relative to its consumers. Walgreens, as a result, managed to cut its customer wait-time in half.

Walgreens has been able to use this basis of efficient to expand to over 4000 locations in ten years. Moving from a locally recognized Chicago pharmaceutical retail company to a major corporation, which many argue in large part is associated with its focus on inventory management. Because Walgreens monitors its inventory through every step of its process it is more difficult for anything to be lost in addition this data collecting process, which is becoming more and more utilized allows Walgreens to stay ahead of the curve.

Walgreens has been able to become the company it is today as a result of its constant revising and tireless focus on technological internal opportunities in the inventory and customer care sectors. It is this technological focus that has lead Walgreens to become a major market share holder per the NAICS able to hold it’s own against CVS and RiteAid while acquiring smaller scale pharmaceutical retailers.


ISO gives NEI a big WIN

The NEI company just announced that they achieved the ISO 13485:2003 Medical Device Quality Management System certification for their main facility in Texas. The ISO 13485:2003 is to “facilitate harmonized medical device regulatory requirements for quality management systems, and its requirements are unique to organizations building medical devices”. The company is already ISO 9001:2008 certified.

NEI is a global leader in providing application platforms, development solutions and lifecycle support services for software developers. The article mainly examines the high standards that they set for their medical software devices and services. They play a huge role in IT software service to the healthcare industry all over the world.

In order for NEI to receive this certification, they had to develop and then implement quality management policies for medical devices. The standard for the ISO 13485:2003 requires any company to consistently provide medical devices that meet the customer and the regulatory requirements. In the article, it seemed as though NEI welcomed audits and management evaluations because they work with medical devices. John Gauthier, the director of quality assurance at NEI said, “NEI recognizes the strict parameters and regulatory requirements involved in medical device manufacturing and has developed rigorous practices in support of those metrics”.

The IT standards that NEI sets for the healthcare industry is important. I believe that they should be keeping those standards high because of what industry they are in.  They also seem to take pride in their standard of quality, which must mean that it is excellent. Those medical devices that they create should have high quality because will essentially be used in dealing with people’s lives.  It is said in the article that they intensely listen to their customer base so that they can keep improving and changing with the times. This kind of close attention to detail will benefit NEI in the  future because their customers know that they can count on them to maintain the best quality management.

The link to the article as well as a link to NEI’s website is below: