Customers don’t care what you do. They only care what they are left with after you’ve done it. Do you notice the customer experience you receive at a business you frequently visit? With most customers the answer is yes if the experience is bad. The extreme endpoint of the service experience. Occasionally however customers make note of a customer experience design that is just average. And average experiences won’t help your business, will they? So businesses should be continually looking to improve customer experience, yes? I often take note of my home depot customer experience design and think about the changes I would make if I was in charge. This blog is a discussion of how my wife and I would improve my Home Depot customer experience.
Check out our thoughts on customer focus.
We often get a questions and comments on delivering great customer service and experiences. They are from both clients directly and customers commenting on our blog. Many relate to customer service actions that are reminders of what we already know (but we occasionally forget). These are big enablers of customer service. They usually won’t create Wow service on their own, but their absence is noted by customers and lowers excellent customer service to just good enough or less.
See our article on Client Satisfaction …10 Secrets to Improve Customer Experience
What are the ways this Home Depot was just average in its customer experience design? Consider Home Depot’s explicit operations and design:
Saving you time
One of the most important needs of most customers is time … no one ever has enough and if you are a customer like me, you hate waiting for service in anything. There two big time wasters at the Home Depot.
The first is trying to find what you are looking for. This is almost always an issue for us. Usually when we ask directions we get a prompt answer to an aisle, which certainly shortens the search, but not enough in our mind.
The second is trying to find someone to help you. That also includes someone who can handle 90% of the answers. That rarely happens on the first try.
My Home Depot … show the value
In their store, as well as on their website, you can never find product value statements or recommendations. If you want recommendations on best value you must ask. And when you do, you rarely get a convincing answer. No real unique selling points for the store as a whole, at least that was obvious to us.
Store to web site integration
I visit Home Depot quite often and use their web site even more frequently. In all those visits, I have been shown a terminal where the customer actually used it to answer my question only once. My bet is that there only 2-3 computers in the entire store where a customer clerk could look on line to get information and answers on products. And service for products is even a bigger issue. An area where small changes could provide big improvements
Home Depot used to do a decent job in educating their Do-It-Yourself customers by adding a learning center in both the store and on-line. The on line service is still better than average, but again, they could do a lot more by integrating on-line and in-store customer education. Many of the employees are just clerks and know very little about products and do it yourself activities.
My Home Depot … lots of help and directions
All stage employees should be encouraged to be ‘assertively friendly’. They should seek out those who look like they need help, before they come looking for help. But this rarely if ever happens.
The Home Depot stores are very large and directions can be confusing. The last thing customers need is to not be able to find what they are looking for. As a result, signs have to be super easy to navigate and offer simple ways to get from one place to another. Wouldn’t it be easy to create store maps to give to customers in need? Apparently not so easy.
Take nothing for granted
Don’t take a customer’s loyalty for granted, especially when dealing with first-time shoppers. The key to customer loyalty is not just by providing a quality service or product, but how you service and support it. Meeting customer expectations in a first sale may not be enough. First-time buyers want to know you care. For loyalty to endure, it must be noticed and acknowledged. That means some top notch unique actions on behalf of customers. Have you ever received any of these? We have not. Again, Home Depot signals that they are happy with an average customer experience.
Have you ever been into a store that has more product options? I am not talking about product sizes here. I am talking about different brands that do basically the same thing. And that is not a customer benefit, because too many choices makes decisions much more difficult, especially when Home Depot employees can’t tell you which product is best.
Stand tall on customer issues
Being a customer advocate is often tough for many businesses. Many overcome this by defining a customer bill of rights and displaying in the store and on-line. No way to not follow these as they are predominantly displayed. Ever seen one at Home Depot? Nope, not us. But certainly at other brands.
When you save your customer time, deliver quality service, stand tall on customer issues, and always show your value, you definitely build trust. And trust is the basis of great customer relationships and follow-on business. A definite win-win.
Looking for customer feedback
As customers both my wife and I like to have a business seek out our opinions. Shows they care. On the flip side if a business never asks, or has no way to solicit suggestions, it shows they don’t care very much. Where do you think Home Depot falls on this spectrum?
Immerse customers in brand
At many businesses, you can look in any direction and see the branding all around. And we are not talking abound simple brand identity here. We are talking about things that remind customers about things the brand believes in, or stands for, in the store or on-line. It works to surround you with the customer experience at every moment. Home Depot can do more to stand out in this area, much more.
Customer experience design certainly should show how much a business appreciates the importance of customers, shouldn’t it? It’s a culture they seem proud to stand behind.
Companies that are proactively managing all elements of their customer experiences are most successful in achieving customer loyalty.
Customer experience actions that are remarkable get talked about. And getting talked about in this light is a great thing, right? No question. So ignoring well known customer experience annoyances is a big no-no.
Here’s the thing, customer experience design isn’t just a new way of marketing, it’s really a new way of running a business. Many businesses certainly have figured this out and are using customer experience to rapidly grow their business. Home Depot needs to better understand this concept.
Remember one simple thing here: all employees need to view themselves as customer advocates, period. Customer service actions that are remarkable get talked about. And getting talked about in this light is a great thing, right? No question.
Do you have a lesson about making your customer experience better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Need some help in building better customer trust from your customer engagement? Creative ideas to help grow your customer relationships?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job and pay for results.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy to improving your continuous learning for yourself and your team?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on customer experience from our Library:
Like this short blog? Follow Digital Spark Marketing on LinkedIn or add us to your circles for 3-4 short, interesting blogs, stories per week.