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One Employee Serving One Customer at a Time

A couple of years ago I wrote about some of the struggles Home Depot was experiencing, along with some recommendations for reclaiming the positive brand image they once commanded in the minds of customers – Sacrificing Customer Service – Lessons from Home Depot.

Blogger Alan Gregerman sent me a link to one of his posts in which he states, “This is going to sound strange, but I actually had a great customer experience at Home Depot this week.” He says it sounds strange because, “I’ve come to expect a lot of frustration whenever I shop at Home Depot. Sure I appreciate their low prices and large inventory, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more help on occasion. Or a bit more knowledge, guidance, interest, and engagement.”

Check out his post at Dear Home Depot.

What Alan’s story says to me is this – All of our visions, strategies, and tactics hinge on one employee serving one customer at a time.

If Home Depot, or any other organization, wants to claim a warm spot in their customers’ hearts, they have to engage the hearts and minds of their frontline employees in the effort. The process for engagement is straight forward, but it takes long-term commitment from the organization’s leadership:

  1. Define what the customer experience is supposed to be – your Service Philosophy and Service Standards.
  2. Use every communication tool you have to reinforce the importance of customer service, share best practices, customer perspectives, etc.
  3. Ensure that customer service is a key element of ALL training opportunities.
  4. Use behavioral interviewing in order to hire applicants who are wired for service excellence.
  5. Recognize and reward those who live your service values.
  6. Make service excellence NON-NEGOTIABLE for every member of the organization by building your service values into all accountability mechanisms.
  7. Identify and remove process obstacles that inhibit delivering excellent service.

The Home Depot associate Alan describes in his blog post is clearly wired for service excellence. If Home Depot can multiply that associate’s enthusiasm by 317,000 (their current staff) they’d really have something. It can be done.