Home Depot used to be the King of DIY. It seemed like the country’s second largest retailer could do no wrong. But the hubris of success caught up with it. When you could find a customer service rep in the aisles it was a good chance that they were surly and behaved as if you interrupted their work. (I’ve felt this way at many a campus visit.)
So it seems like Home Depot is addressing the problem. I was reading in the May 7 Businessweek how Marvin Ellison, Executive VP for US Stores, is addressing employee morale and improving customer service.
-Improving morale of the workers? He’s limited emails from corporate and put all other information online, from the article:
“The company reported a loss of $54 million in the fourth quarter, and same-store sales dropped 8.7% last year. With resources squeezed, Ellison is trying to keep things simple. He has slashed the number of reports, tasks, and messages handed down from the corporate office. Store managers who were flooded with some 200 company e-mails and reports on any given Monday now typically get one: The rest are available online. And he severely restricted messages from headquarters to the stores during the rest of the week.”
Lesson learned: Keep your internal communication small in number, simple in message, and short in content. Use technology like an office intranet, Google docs, or a great CRM system like TargetX’s SRM (shameless plug) to communicate with your staff.
-Improving customer service? I love the system wide implementation of “power hours,” from the article:
“More important, Ellison is enforcing a practice called “power hours”—weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and all day on Saturdays and Sundays—when employees are supposed to do nothing but serve customers. They can stock shelves, unload boxes, and survey inventory at other times. “We could not address customer service needs because we were too busy doing other things,” says Ellison, who began his own career as an hourly worker at Target (TGT) in 1987.”
Lesson learned: You know the busy times when prospective families are visiting (Mondays, Fridays and Holiday) do you have a “power hours” plan when it’s all hand on deck to serve prospective families to campus? Often I see admissions people held up in their office (or cubicle) when there’s a furry of guests in the lobby.
Home Depot lost $54 million last quarter. Many schools are down in deposits. Every school that I’ve spoken to that has been up in deposits said it was a host of many little things that got them there. A plan to build staff morale and improve customer service was part of their strategy, is is part of your strategy?
Read more about our authors. Jeff is the VP of the Consulting Division and also known as the “Apostle of Authenticity.” He crisscrosses the country speaking at conferences and working with our clients. He’s driven by a mission to inspire higher education executives and admissions offices to overthrow dead culture, embrace their authentic “DNA” and render engaging experiences.