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Home Depot remodels in-store service


For years, Home Depot has been burdened with a reputation for subpar customer service, but the home improvement retailer is now working on several fronts to give customers a better in-store experience.

The latest innovations are ‘Call Buttons’ in departments that enable customers to get immediate attention when they have a question and no employees are around. The buttons are called out with large signs emblazoned with arrows and the slogan ‘Need Help? Press Button.’

The Call Buttons are one new outgrowth of Home Depot’s admission that it needs to improve customer service after years of being ranked at, or near, the bottom of the University of Michigan’s customer service rankings. Ceo Frank Blake even made it one of his top priorities when he took the reins at Home Depot in 2007.

During its most recent conference call, Home Depot evp of U.S. stores Paul Raines said the chain “is focused on in-store execution and improving customer service.” He said Home Depot is testing in-store concepts like the Call Buttons on a regional basis and then rolling out the ideas that work “at a high rate of speed. In this environment, moving with velocity to transform our stores and better service customers is vital.”

He said that Home Depot is also putting more employees out in front of customers. “One of our main initiatives is [more] aprons on the floor,” said Raines, adding that, “our goal in 2008 is to reallocate $180 million to add more sales hours to our stores.” The company also is rewarding associates with cash rewards to complete courses that improve their knowledge of the departments they work in, as well as adjacent departments.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, Home Depot earned a near all-time low ACSI score of 67 in the University of Michigan Customer Satisfaction Survey. Lowe’s scored a rating of 75 for the same time period.

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