Thursday, February 08, 2007

Home Depot's newest product: customer service

Since the schadenfreude has died down after Bob Nardelli's ouster as CEO of Home Depot, a significant question has arisen: now what happens at America's home-improvement icon?

Nardelli's successor, Frank Blake, is a bit of a blank slate, having kept a low profile at Home Depot (and, seemingly, everywhere he's worked). He didn't even grant the New York Times an interview. But they wrote about him anyway.

And among his many changes at the Home Depot is a focus on the basics of retailing. Says the article, written by Michael Barbaro, "[Blake plans] to improve the retail business by single-mindedly focusing on employee morale and customer service in the chain’s 2,000 stores."

Which brings me to a story. I went to my Home Depot the other day around noontime and I noticed something funny. There were workers everywhere. Cashiers standing in front of their register aisles. Staff poised at desks, and in the aisles, looking for people to help.

If you wanted to ask someone a question, the biggest problem was deciding whom to ask.

And if you've shopped in a Home Depot before, you know how unusual that is.

It was so unusual that I asked one of the cashiers what was going on. She said that they always had a lot of staff to help people. (Um, not in any of the Home Depots I'd shopped at before.)

The Times article implies that it may be an intentional change. Good. At any rate, here's one Home Depot customer who's happy with what Mr. Blake has done so far. Keep it up, and I might decide on orange more often.

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