Ace Hardware ranks highest in customer satisfaction among home improvement retailers for the 13th time in 14 years.
That’s according to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study. With a score of 844, Ace outranked Menards, which came in second (841). Lowe’s came in third (838). Rounding out the top five were True Value (832) and Home Depot (827). The industry average was 834.
According to the study, the single factor with the greatest influence on that retail experience beyond inventory, prices or location is friendly, knowledgeable service with a smile—and provided in two minutes or less.
“The one-on-one engagement a customer has with the retail staff continues to be the largest driver of overall customer satisfaction with home improvement retailers,” said Christina Cooley, director of the @Home practice at J.D. Power. “Now, more than ever, customers are looking for the guidance they need—but they’re also looking to get in and out of the store quickly. When customers receive speedy, knowledgeable and friendly service, they are more likely to return and recommend that retailer. However, if they must wait five minutes or more to receive help, satisfaction scores tumble.”
Here are some key findings of the 2020 study.
• Staff and service is key differentiator: No single home improvement retailer outperforms the others across all measures of satisfaction, but those that are strongest in staff and service—the most heavily weighted driver of overall satisfaction—usually perform notably better in the study.
• Help in two minutes or less: Customer satisfaction with home improvement retailers is highest when they receive help from staff within two minutes or less. Just one-fourth of customers received help within this threshold. Waiting more than five minutes for help decreases satisfaction with staff and service by more than 70 points (on a 1,000-point scale).
• Online shoppers visit more brick-and-mortar retailers and spend more: Customers who shop and/or research online before making a purchase spend, on average, approximately $500 more per year on home improvement than those who do not research online. These shoppers are often more price-sensitive and are more likely to buy during a promotion or sale.
• COVID-19 as possible catalyst to home improvement projects: Based on additional J.D. Power research conducted April 2-3 of this year, 49% of U.S. consumers say they are considering a home improvement project within the next three months. Of those, 61% say they plan to do the project themselves. The top projects on the wish list include painting (15%), lawn and landscape projects (14%) and starting a garden (12%).