Permission To Act – Home Depot Gets It Right

I hope your weekend was great – mine was. I learned about the value of leadership and ownership from a customer perspective.

Friday I went to Home Depot to make a researched purchase. I was ready to spend the money on a specific buy. But they made it difficult. I was buying a new grill, and I needed to rent one of their vans to get it home. So I started with the van rental. I’ve done this before, and HD makes it pretty easy. But not this day. Taking care of the customer in front of me took quite a bit of time, and when the employee went out to help that customer, he promised to be right back. So I stood there alone in the line waiting. Another customer came and went, and then a woman asked me if I knew if anyone was working today. Then I pulled out my phone, opened the Twitter app, and took action. While I watched the woman go ask other orange aproned employees to help – and they all shrugged – I took the direct approach and tweeted a mention to @HomeDepot and @Home Depot_Care that I was being ignored and needed help.

No response. At least none that made it to my phone. Then I tweeted again. Later I discovered that they were responding, I just wasn’t getting the messages.

When Truett finally caught up with me, Home Depot did an excellent job of taking care of things. Customer service was not good this day, but customer response was solution-oriented.

Their overall response was excellent, and I made sure to compliment as well as complain.

Then, Saturday, we went to a local restaurant with outdoor dining. We waited for someone to seat us at any of several open tables, we waited just to get water. We waited for our drink order. Along the way, we got apologies, they knew they were not doing a good job, but their response was apologies and excuses. The manager brought us our drinks, explaining all the reasons they failed us. Not offering a response, but explaining the problem away. We didn’t order dinner, and we will not likely go there again.

Both, in my mind, are examples of poor customer service. It happens. Sometimes businesses are understaffed, or too many things happen at once. Neither of these were in prime-time. In the Home Depot example, Truett was empowered to make it right. He acted as a leader. He did not offer excuses for my experience, he only offered solutions. In eight years in the area, I knew I had spent a lot of money at this Home Depot, but they didn’t know that. They knew they had an unhappy customer and took care of it. The restaurant, on the other hand, chose to essentially turn away a customer not only from a purchase at the moment, but from future purchases as well.

Truett, at Home Depot, had permission to act, and he did. He didn’t test whether my objections were reasonable or not, he responded and kept me as a customer.

The restaurant, not so much.

Do your employees have permission to act? Can they lead when a customer needs assistance? Do they have a customer focus that assures your business can respond?

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