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There’s No Place Like Home….The Home Depot

Passionate About the Customer Experience. This is the world’s largest home improvement retailer, with stores averaging approximately 104,000 square feet of enclosed space and approximately 24,000 additional square feet of outside garden area. They had 2,274 Home Depot stores at the end of fiscal 2015. Sales grew $5.3 billion to $88.5 billion, an increase of 6.4% from fiscal 2014.

In May 2003 I invested $1,000 in nine service leaders, one of them being The Home Depot. It is worth $6,030 as of April 30. My Amazon investment is worth $21,107. Firms like GE and Dell who lost their focus on customer service are only worth $1,685 and $465 respectively.

In their operating strategy, they are one of only a handful of companies that understand the Customer Experience. They said, “Our Customer experience initiative is anchored on the principles of putting customers first and taking care of our associates. We are passionate about: “The Customer Experience.”

They get it. According to Craig Menear, CEO of The Home Depot, “Customer Experience is much more than just customer service…it is about providing a seamless and frictionless experience no matter where our customers shop.” And because we want our customers’ experience to be as frictionless and seamless as possible, we have been working on a delivery option from each of our U.S. stores. Our single greatest asset is our more than 385,000 orange-blooded associates. As our customers’ needs and expectations change, our associates remain committed to helping our customers by providing an excellent customer experience.”

This is where so many organizations fall apart. They have operating hours convenient to the owner of the firm, really stupid rules and policies, call centers based out of India or IVR technology that all costs, avoids letting you talk to a live, smart, caring person. Customers today want speed, low price, and great service. Good service will not create loyal customers. 

Little things matter.  My wife had surgery on Monday. We arrived at Methodist Hospital about 5:15 AM. Got up at 4 am and I was half dead. They were kind enough to give me a coupon for a small coffee (Probably spent $25,000 or more that day) The coffee shop that was supposed to be open at 6 AM on the coupon did not open until 7 AM (they changed the hours. Convenient for the hospital but not the customers) They sent me to the cafeteria. I was there at 6:25 AM. I was the only customer there. Under no conditions would they open even one second early. I poured my own coffee and left my free coupon at the cash register. It was not staffed. An employee stopped me and said I had a large coffee. I held it up to show her it was a small coffee. NOT a good first impression. 

You never know who a customer will interact with. My wife’s surgeon at Methodist Hospital was awesome. Those in their food service were very weak. What are the little things your organization does to create a seamless and frictionless experience?

I was reminded of my good friend, the CEO at Metro Bank in London. Vernon Hill has each location open 10 minutes early and close 10 minutes late. They do not advertise this. Its all part of their customer service focus. So easy to do. NO extra cost. (Each firm reading this newsletter could implement this very simple strategy).

Competition for Home Depot is endless.  In each of the markets they serve there are a number of other home improvement stores, electrical, plumbing and building materials supply houses, and lumber yards. “Our customer experience initiative is anchored on the principles of putting customers first and taking care of our associates.” An awesome strategy for every organization that wants to grow their business and dramatically increase the value of their business” says Craig Menear.

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