Customer Service Retention Example – A Chance for Redemption is an article about my experience at Home Depot – what they did to respond to my dissatisfaction and what they did in an attempt to win back my loyalty.
In a very tough economy, keeping customers happy should have more considerable weight and attention from companies. I had a negative customer experience recently at Home Depot, where they had a chance to redeem themselves from a very poor customer experience.
On March 18, 2009, I went to Home Depot to buy some tools to help my son with his Boy Scout Pinewood Derby car. I’m completely unskilled when it comes to tools or wood carving, so I needed help. I asked someone at Home Depot to help, but the person I asked was very irritated at me and sent me to another department. At that department, the associate said: “sorry, can’t help you.” It turns out, I just needed sand paper and a hand saw, which my neighbor let me borrow.
Following that experience, I sent this Tweet:
I have 296 people following me on Twitter and all my Twitter updates also updates my Facebook page, where I have 350 friends. So, ~600 people saw that Tweet. Six people responded to that Tweet on my Facebook page:
So, negative word-of-mouth from 1 negative experience quickly reached ~600 people. We know from Net Promoter Score (NPS) studies that a Detractor is quite costly to a company, with some studies showing that a Detractor carries a Net Cost of at least $300 USD, not to mention the 600 people that my negative word-of-mouth reached. The same study shows that a Promoter carries a Net Benefit of $1,700 USD.
Moreover, this blog has 1359 Feed Subscribers and an average daily visitor count of 930 unique visitors. So, 1359+296+350+930 = 2935 people are quickly reached from one negative word-of-mouth experience.
So, 1359+296+350+930 = 2935 people are quickly reached from one negative word-of-mouth experience.
In this economy — no, in any economy — a firm cannot risk having negative word-of-mouth or risk producing a bad customer experience: not good for the customer; not good for company.
A Chance for Redemption
My original tweet above, however, caught the attention of Home Depot, to which they responded with the Tweet below:
My initial reaction was very positive — wow, Home Depot monitors Twitter and responds quickly to negative word-of-mouth in the Twitter stream.
I sent @HomeDepot a direct message, containing my email address; I didn’t receive a response for a while, then I received the Tweet below:
The Tweet was followed-up with an email, which is below:
Pete – I’m very sorry to hear that you were treated so poorly. Which store did you visit? I take your experience very seriously and would like to pass your comments along to our store and local leadership.
We are making improvements across the board, but it takes feedback from customers like you to make direct changes in specific stores, send additional resources, etc…
Also, I’ve alerted our Customer Care team, who may contact you as well to resolve this matter and thank you properly for taking the time to give us this feedback.
Please let me know where this happened, and if it’s a normal occurrence at that location, or something unique to this visit.
XXX XXX, Corporate Communications Manager
The Home Depot
I responded to @homedepot’s email with my detailed experience on March 20, 2009. Since then, no feedback or response.
- Most customers are charitable and give companies the benefit of the doubt; most customers are willing to give several chances to a company. I’m certainly in this camp.
- This means that, from the firm’s perspective, there is ample chance to win-back customers through simple empathy, listening, and reaching-out, not necessarily by giving of anything monetary.
- If you are going to have an outreach effort like Home Depot above, execution is key. This means that the initial outreach must reach a conclusion. This is where Home Depot fails. They made a good effort, but no conclusion was reached. I’m happy they reached-out to me, but no feedback was given regarding the negative experience I shared with them.
- Monitor Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Negative word-of-mouth can quickly diffuse to millions of users. My single negative word-of-mouth tweet quickly reached ~600 people. Most likely, some of those ~600 people will not purchase or recommend Home Depot, because of my negative word-of-mouth experience.
Insult to Injury
One more word of advice: a customer’s 1st negative experience can be considered “injury”. Customer Service can take on a balming effect or it can add “insult” to the initial “injury”. Keep this in mind as you frame your Customer Experience strategy.
Hippocratic Oath for Customer Experience
“Do No Harm” ought to be our mantra; “Do No Further Harm” is a great one to have as well.