Social Media, Customer Service & Home Depot

There are thousands upon thousands of people that still doubt the enormous power of social media and its ability to affect change. In some ways, you cannot blame them. Everywhere you turn; it is being thrown in your face (your inbox) by the media or some self-proclaimed guru claiming to have mastered the social media universe. I know many people with profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter that claim to have derived little value from them. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was about to experience first-hand the power of this medium.

Last year, we (my family) purchased carpet from Home Deport for our stairs and hallway. While at the store, we were talked into buying a new blend (fabric) that looked great on the rack. We were assured that it would wear well on the stairs (high traffic areas) etc… I am sure you can guess where this is going. Approximately 90 days after installation, the carpet looked as if the San Diego Chargers had played their regular season on our stairs and hallway. At this point, my wife is almost in tears as she cannot believe that it looks this bad so quickly. I jump up like a Super Hero (perception vs. reality) and assure her that I will take care of it. I am confident that Home Depot will stand behind their product. It’s Home Depot. I find their mission statement online just to make sure that customer service is indeed still important to the folks in Atlanta. I am in luck as they value “excellent customer service”, “doing the right thing” and “building strong relationships”.

I call the store to report the issue and this is when the story gets real interesting. I cannot seem to find out who is actually responsible for taking care of situations like mine. Uh-oh! I get transferred several times on my first attempt and finally end up leaving a message for the consolidator. I have no idea what a consolidator does but that is who I am directed to speak with on Monday morning. Consolidator, consolidator are you there?

I call the consolidator on Monday morning as directed and I am told that the store is not responsible for this situation but rather the good folks that actually installed the carpet. Does anyone not outsource anymore? The consolidator insists that this is the process so I ask for the installer’s number and call them. The installer takes the call but it is obvious that they too want nothing to do with me and my carpet. Lo and behold, the installer shows up to inspect the carpet. I pick up right away that this is not going anywhere real fast. The installer takes a peek here and there but seems genuinely uninterested in finding out the real issue. I attempt to ask questions for clarity and intent but I get blank looks and lots of mumbled jargon. As I expect, I get a call a few days later from my consolidator explaining that the excessive wear was caused by my family. At this point, not a soul from the store (Home Depot) has offered to come to my house and see it first-hand. What’s next is where I am blown away.

At wits end, I decide to tweet about my unfortunate experience with Home Depot. I am not sure what I am expecting but in some ways it feels like a great way to blow off some steam. Within fifteen minutes, I get a tweet from Tinzley at Home Depot. She is pleasant and seems genuinely interested in finding a resolution. I explain the who, what, when, where, and why to Tinzley and she goes to work in tracking down the appropriate people for me to speak with. As you might have guessed by now, this story has a happy ending as our new carpet looks great.

I am not sure how many other Tinzley’s are out there right now listening and monitoring every Tweet, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube post but I saw firsthand the power of the phenomenon we call social media. Take-away: Social media is real, pervasive and it matters. If you don’t believe me, just ask your customers. I think you might be surprised just how many are using social media. On a side note, I still have no idea what a consolidator does which still bothers me. On a side note, Tinzley, wherever you are, Thank you!

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10 thoughts on “Social Media, Customer Service & Home Depot

  1. Devin,

    Your blog had me in stitches! I guess the good thing is it was the Chargers playing and not the Patriots or it may have been an unsalvageable situation :). Go Pats!

    On another note, these big stores seem to have this problem regularly. My husband and I redid our home office in January, complete with a custom built desk, paint, curtains, and other furniture. I wanted light blocking but fun curtains and found the perfect fit and color at my local Lowe’s. They didn’t have ANY in stock, they couldn’t order them, and they couldn’t tell me when they would come in on regular shipments. Really?

    I tried to go online and buy them, to find out they didn’t have them either, but the representative found some at a store in Winchester, VA, about 4 hours from me. Then the fight to have them shipped store-to-store. They are hanging in my office now and are perfect, but you’re right that it takes getting to the right person to have the issue resolved.

    Social media is great for this because no store wants their “dirty laundry” posted where they can’t clean it!

  2. Devin!

    Shazam! That was an awesome story of redemption, complete with an action hero, the beautiful heroine and the seedy crook! You beat the bad guys with social media…woo hoo…it works!

    I often feel my husband is my hero too!

    Now, the question is…have you tweeted about the good story? Many consumers will quickly call or post or blog about negative experiences, but few and far between go out of there way to post the good.

    Give Tinzley an awesome day and tweet for HD and the good of mankind@

    (sorry, got caught away with the whole action movie…:)

    Great job,
    Donna:)

  3. Great story! I know someone who an issue like this with Home Depot but it did not have such a happy ending (he also didn’t Tweet about his situation). He bought a new washer and dryer, a third party installer came out, installed it wrong, and long story short, he had a flood from the second floor down to the first floor. The installer didn’t hook the drainage up right. I wonder what would have happened if he had tweeted about it. Luckily his homeowners insurance paid for it.

  4. Devin

    That was a great read for sure! It boggles my mind how no one helped you in the beginning and had you doing all the leg work. But over all a great ending with a simple Tweet. Some companies just don’t care until its made public and makes them look bad. Or it could be those you dealt with.

  5. Whoa! Devin, that was some story!! Who knew Social Media would have that much power, especially in that response time, AND on the Brick & Mortar front. Since this worked for you, I am going to go on a Tweeting frenzy – hahaha!

    Anyhow, great way to showcase the power of social media by way of poor customer service.

    – Fred Tessier

  6. Great blog, I like your writing style. I’ve yet to Tweet about a bad experience but I sure will now if I can’t get resolution from the store/website itself. I’ve tried to do that via Facebook but have found that there are some companies out there that don’t monitor their Facebook as well as they should. I had one person from Sweet Tomatoes messaging me back and forth and then just fell off the face of the… book. tsk tsk!

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