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Will Lowe’s Staff Changes Hurt Customer Service?

The staff changes Lowe’s announced earlier this year to cut costs and focus more on customer service may hurt in-store experiences, Lowe’s employees tell Fast Company magazine.

Lowe’s has cut corporate and store jobs and planned to move other employees who have “back-of-house responsibilities” into customer service roles, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The changes could help the company grow, but that’s yet to be seen, says Steven Cox, a business professor in Charlotte, North Carolina, near where Lowe’s is headquartered.

“In six to eight months’ time, you’ll find out whether you cut muscle instead of fat,” Cox says. “You’ll find out after the third quarter whether the strategy is working.”

However, where Lowe’s cut assistant manager positions and is hiring seasonal workers to fill customer service holes could diminish the quality of customer service offered, employees say in the Fast Company article.

Workers “feel under-supported as a result of the loss of their assistant store manager colleagues, a shortage of current employees, and a lack of knowledge on the floor at present,” Fast Company says.

Employees feel the loss of “middle management” on the salesfloor, and customers see it, too, because experienced employees are stretched thin and inexperienced seasonal employees can’t offer customers skilled DIY advice, the article says.

“DIY stores are unique in the retail landscape because customers are often dependent on staff knowledge of the products and how to use them. … It’s human expertise that really matters in this sector,” Fast Company says.

About Kate Klein

Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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