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Home Depot targets customer service
Mar 18, 2009

Financial Times details the problems this leading home improvement retailer has withstood as they faced  one of the storm fronts of the  housing collapse in America. As they looked at cutting costs in some quarters of the company, they take a completely different approach when it comes to customer service. They have invested $250 million  to fund additional in-store staff hours. They are returning to what made them successful in the past; in store professionals who are licensed home improvement experts, and who also know how to serve customers.  "This downturn in the economy is an opportunity to focus our resources and attention on things that matter and to bring customer service back to the business" said Frank Blake CEO of Home Depot. 

It is clear to me and coming more into focus by the day that at the very center of our economic recovery is a return to basics as it applies to customer service.  I predict customers will become the center of  a company's universe. They will right the wrongs that have taken place in business broadly as it relates to customer service. For the past 15 years or so, companies abandoned the personal interaction of "one to one" contact and relied instead on over promised/ under delivered technology solutions.

Social Media/Networking ,with all of its promise, must be careful to avoid the pitfalls of  becoming  another overpromised new technology based customer service solution.  Twitter,  in particular, is a great behavior monitoring tools, that can prompt a quick solution to a broad problem quickly.   We must learn from the flawed technologies that created our service crisis. The CRM solutions took costs out of the system  did not significantly improved personal service interactions.  Those "solutions"  left customers and consumers  infuriated  by the impersonal interaction they produced.  Listening and talking,  gathering information and analyzing it. is only part of a service interaction. What you do with what you hear and collect must be supported by a true connection that retains the elements of the "one to one" characteristics that always have worked when executed well.

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"How You Do What You Do", by Bob Livingston

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