Friday, November 13, 2009

Dear Michael, Customer Care, Home Depot

Two days after I wrote the post “I Have No One to Blame but Myself” about my recent experiences at Home Depot, I received a comment from Michael, a Customer Care Representative at The Home Depot. He wrote:

Hi this is Michael from Home Depot Customer Care, we are making a lot of improvements in our stores and I am disappointed to hear that your experience with our associate turned out as it did. I would like to pass this feedback on to Management and would like some more information, feel free to send me an email. Again, I am sorry we let you down.

Michael left his e-mail address so that I could contact him.

I must admit that I was amused by his comment. I shouldn’t be surprised that a major corporation data mines the internet for comments about the company, but I was. It must have been very easy to find my blog. I use the “labels” box underneath my blog to make funny and/or editorial comments that did not appear in my blog. In this case, I had written, “Home Depot Sucks, It Really Really Sucks.”

At first I didn’t think that I had anything to add to what I already posted. Honestly, what would you say after a store employee holds a piece of wood in her hand and insists that the wood she is holding doesn’t exist because the computer screen in front of her is telling her that the wood she is holding does not exist. Add to that her condescending attitude when she repeatedly told me, “Sir, you don’t understand what I am saying” and you have a lost cause. I am ready to sacrifice a goat on the front lawn of Lowe’s Corporate Offices in hopes that they will bring some competition to the area. After thinking about it for awhile, I know what I will send to Michael.

Dear Michael,

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you become a regular reader and leave comments often.

If you would like to pass feedback back to management, please tell them that customer service is still important in this country. When you have customers who prefer to use self-service check-out stations rather than having to deal with a store associate, you have problems. I realize that these stations save you millions of dollars in staffing wages, but it is a sad commentary on the quality of your employees when customers would rather talk to a computer.

The vast majority of communication is non-verbal. Please tell your associates that customers notice when the associate sighs deeply, rolls their eyes, or shares a granite expression when we ask for help. Customers are not an annoyance to be barely tolerated when the associate is in a deep discussion with another associate. Customers are job security. Instead of looking at us with contempt when we interrupt a text message or a cell phone conversation, look at us with a smile that says, “I sure am glad you are here spending your hard earned money, because if you weren’t then I would not have a job. I would not be able to pay the rent or feed my children. So, let me help you to the best of my ability and give you a reason to return to this store.”

Initiative is important. If this customer can return to your store the day after the wood fiasco I posted about and discover that the price stickers on the wood did not match the price stickers on the shelf, a trained associate certainly could have done the same thing. A trained associate should have done the same thing, and they should have done it that Saturday night before they went home for the evening. There was a problem that cost the company a sale. Fix the problem! Exactly how long is this error supposed to go uncorrected?

While we are on the topic of initiative, if an associate realizes that the volume on the PA system was low, they should have addressed the problem when they noticed it. It’s really hard to page an employee for assistance when the employee cannot hear the page. In this case, two employees noticed this problem and laughed about it rather than fixing it. How hard is it to turn the volume knob? My five year old knows how to change the volume on the TV. She’s been doing it for years! Since Bernice could not raise an associate in millwork to address the pricing problem we were having, I left without making the purchase.  There's no job security when there are no sales.

Absolute policies do not serve justice. Your employees need to be able to think for themselves. While your company did accept the returned generator two years ago, and Customer Care did send me a $50 gift card and a form apology letter (a little heart in those letters would be nice!), I never should have been in that fight to begin with. Your Leavenworth, Kansas, store manager made a valiant effort to stick me with a $450 broken generator. That violated a level of trust that no amount of gift cards can repair.

Finally, Michael, if you read my blog you probably read the comments section on my blog. You should know that it isn’t just the Leavenworth store where these problems exist. They are company-wide. You'll also have noticed that other stores are performing well.  Identify those stores within your company that have excellent customer service reports, find out what they are doing correctly, and share it with the rest of your company.


Teacher Mommy said...

Well written.

Personally, I probably would have added something about his comma abuse, but that's me.

Kathleen said...

Amen and Amen!

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

Hopefully Michael will read it and do something about it. Wouldn't hold my breath, though.

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! I wish you'd send the letter to them, although I know it won't do any good. I can't stand self checkouts because there's no interaction with a live person; however, most of the time, they're rude anyway. I enjoy being personable, is that a crime in this country?

CrossView said...

I always find it ironic that the people who are PAID to be there act like those of us who are PAYING to be there should be treated less than hospitably. But honestly? It makes it so much easier for me to hold on to the checkbook.

For those in customer service jobs: Treat people they way you want to be treated. There now, that was easy.

Twisted said...

Great! send it.

Linda said...

Why would you not send it? I think it's good and needed. Send it while you have the chance, before the country becomes socialist and it doesn't matter how much money they make or how nice they are because the government owns them..... oops, sorry, not my blog. :o)

queenoftheclick said...

Yeah I doubt that Michael will do anything about it. He seems to make a lot of comments online probably just copying and pasting usual statements from Home Depot.

It's been over a month and he probably would have come back here and given an update.