Yesterday, I had a marvelous customer service experience. At a Home Depot.
I’m as surprised as you are. I remember when Home Depot first ‘came along’ how great a place it seemed to be, with pretty much anything you could need for your home available in one place, at great prices, and staffed by people who were experts. The lumber guys knew their lumber, the appliance guys knew their appliances, and on and on. But I’ve watched Home Depot become impossible to navigate and generally a scary place over the years and have come to dread doing business with them.
A couple of months ago, the stove in my townhome died. And when it came time to handle that, we found a deal on a replacement at the Home Depot in Roxbury NJ, and made arrangements to have the new stove delivered and installed by Home Depot and the old stove hauled away. And then Home Depot screwed things up. Lots of things, several times each. The paperwork was bad. The delivery was muffed. The stove we selected was out of stock, Home Depot cancelled and reissued my order and held onto double the money they were entitled to for a few days. Everything went wrong. Everything. And when all was done and I hired and paid for an outside electrician to clean up the mess Home Depot had helped make I was left with some extra wiring that Home Depot had sold me and I turned out not to need.
It was only about $20 worth of extra parts and I was so frustrated with Home Depot and the entire process that I would have just thrown them away, but I happened to drive past the store yesterday and had a few minutes on my hands, so I went in to get a refund. And I told my story to Patti, the friendly person staffing the Home Depot Customer Service desk. Patti was horrified—seriously, she seems to be genuinely upset—and called the manager on duty over. And the manager, without me so much as asking, gave me $100 to make up for my troubles getting Home Depot to do things the right way to begin with.
While we’ve shifted our main focus here away from things like business change and customer service, both customer service and business change—or a willingness to search for places where business change will equal business success—of course remain part of our mission, and by performing exemplary customer service the Home Depot team practiced Influency of the best kind. I find myself, for the second time in recent memory, thinking we need to add a Customer Service Wall of Fame to serve as a counterpoint to The Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame. But unlike the ‘great customer service but we aren’t doing business’ story about HostGator, Home Depot is now on my list of companies to do business with, whenever possible.
That’s it. A great story, about great Influency. Except for this: it turns out that I’ve written about Home Depot once before. I had forgotten; that story was about Home Depot practicing Black-Hat Search Engine Optimization. So hey, Home Depot Marketing Department: if you’re as interested in improving your online presence as the folks at Home Depot in Roxbury NJ are in great customer service, well, you can reach me here.