Yes, another customer service story. I can’t help it, I’m a marketer by trade and it’s frustrating to see a company go down the tubes because of poor delivery, service, products, appearance—you name it. I can write about how great a brand is, the benefits of using this product or attending this event—more so than its competitors, but if the front-line people can’t tie their shoes or treat customers like they were a minor annoyance that distracted them from idleness, it makes me sad and my superior promotional efforts go to waste.

I once worked with some colleagues on a project where we trained the staff to understand what a brand is, why it’s important, and how they tie into it. I think they were surprised at how important each and every one of them was to creating the organization’s brand. One of their favorite brands was Target. They liked the cleanliness of the store, the quality of the selection and products, and the fast and easy checkout lines. So the CEO, the VPs, and other higher-ups can create a vision and goals for the company, and develop a certain culture among the staff, but when it comes down to it, the janitor and the checkout clerks were the ones really creating the brand experience for the customer.

Next time you pick up a phone, write an email, stand behind a counter, or have any contact with a customer, remember what you say, how you say it, and how you do your job effects the brand.  

I will never go through Home Depot for a major home-improvement project again. Why? Because I have had two previous not-so-great experiences and now recently bought hardwood floors for my kitchen. The signs on the product information both in the store and online said delivery takes about seven days. After ordering the floors, I was told they wouldn’t be in for about six weeks. When they did come in I got a call to schedule a delivery with a window of nine hours on a Saturday. (Not acceptable.) I got a call the day before informing me that they had “lost” my floors. That’s right people, you read that right. On and on the misinformation and non-forthcoming communication went.  

Yesterday, I decided to call back to see (after three weeks) if they had found my floors. “Yes,” I was told. At this point I was at my last straw and asked to talk to the manager. I asked if they would give me a discount. (Mainly because after all the bad service, I was told they could deliver after 6 pm and now they were saying that wasn’t accurate and it would have to be a Saturday—my next free one being six weeks away.) He was not willing to do that so I told him I was five minutes away from cancelling the order and taking my business to Lowe’s.

Suddenly delivery was available for that evening! It took months of being nice and patient, getting bad service over and over again and having to threaten to cancel my order before any kind of effort was made to rectify the situation. I’m glad he finally found a solution and went outside and beyond their normal process to deliver my goods (which they charged me for two months ago), but not happy that they took NO initiative to satisfy a customer. Their database had inaccurate information, many of their staff could not speak English very well, they were telling me wrong information that I had to clarify and confirm with other staff members, and they did nothing to go the extra mile with a customer they were not servicing well. So they’ve lost my business and I’ll be driving the extra 10 minutes to Lowe’s now.

Don’t let me down Lowe’s, I’m counting on you!