The Home Depot experience

Home Depot

Since becoming a home owner again earlier this year, I’ve made a few trips to my local Home Depot (#4137 is my local) to get various bits and pieces for around the house.

During this time, I have been repeatedly impressed with the quality of the sales floor staff at my local Home Depot. Always there when you need someone, proactive in their attempts to help (stand still looking at the shelves too long and you’re likely to be interrupted with a friendly ‘Can I help you find something?‘) and somehow always knowing where to find what you’re looking for. How do they do that?! Home Depot is a massive store with probably millions of different products for sale.

Happy and Helpful Sales Floor Staff

In thinking about the average Home Depot sales floor staff, I noticed that they are mostly older men, of a retirement or post-retirement age. Sure, there are some women and even a few younger guys as well. Yet, what really sets the staff apart for me is that they are all so darned enthusiastic about tools, DIY and getting the home repair done properly. From the amazing woman who sold me my first power drill a few months ago (I know, what does that say about me that I am only now owning my first power drill?) to the fellows who helped me pick the right filters for my furnace, I received detailed advice, unharried guidance and very patient and knowledgable sales help.

It is important to note that through its sales floor teams, Home Depot is offering more than just product knowledge and DIY skills. On every trip that I have made to Home Depot (and there have been about 6 to 8) since moving back to the US (in the summer of 2009), I have always been made to feel welcome by the floor sales staff. Pleasantly greeted when I walk in and directed to where I need to go to find what I’m looking for. Those Home Depot employees in the orange aprons are building brand loyalty. (I’ve not once been tempted to go to Lowe’s, so helpful are those Home Depot people.)

The Achilles Heel

While it’s clear to me that Home Depot have the formula down on the sort of people to hire for their sales floor, they more often than not miss the boat when it comes to the check-out staff. Why are the people working the cash registers always so darned grumpy? Is it jealously of the happy and helpful sales floor staff? Does Home Depot reduce its hiring standards for cashier staff?

Whatever the reason for the reduction in customer service, it’s unfortunate. As a result of a marked decline in the sense of welcome and customer appreciation, I almost always leave Home Depot with a reduced sense of experience enjoyment. Why can’t all the Home Depot employees be like the happy men and women of the sales floor?

I sure wish Home Depot could sort that out, as it seems to me to be its Achilles Heel. Why spend so much time and effort treating the customer as king only to disappoint at the last moment?

3 thoughts on “The Home Depot experience”

  1. @ Liam

    I really like HD too. Sometimes I just go there to wander around and look at cool new stuff, tools, gadgets, whatever! Even when I am going there for something specific it takes way longer than it should, since I just wander around.

    In terms of the checkout staff, perhaps they INTENTIONALLY provide you with a poor checkout experience as a way to keep you wandering the store longer. More time in the store might mean increase in sales! Even if it is subconscious, knowing that an unpleasant experience awaits at checkout might make you take a little more time inside the store where it’s nice and warm and friendly.

  2. @ Conall,

    Perhaps, but I am not sure that I would want to purchase more items as that would prolong my interaction with check-out staff.

    Do you have a similar experience/impression of the register clerks at Home Depot?

  3. @ Liam

    I can’t say I’ve ever been offended or particularly aware of an UNpleasantness among the HD check out staff. However, I agree that they really don’t match up with the rest of the HD staff in terms of friendliness and helpfulness.

    Good observation. Great question.

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