Friday, June 8, 2007

Corporate Campaigns - Sunk by Morons

The best corporate campaigns are often sunk by morons in management.

Take Home Depot. When Frank Blake took over as CEO earlier this year, he promised that he'd work to change the chain's rep for lousy customer service. On a recent trip to the Home Depot in Sunnyvale I assumed that was why employees throughout the store were wearing big "I'm empowered" buttons.

I was there to purchase an item advertised on sale...a 10' x 10' canopy, which I hoped would eliminate the problem I had of sun on my deck reflecting into my bedroom and turning it into an oven every afternoon. I was there the first day of the sale, but there were no canopies in stock and a nice "I'm empowered" employee checked the computer and said they hadn't received their shipment. He kindly offered me a rain check, called the assistant manager for authorization, got said approval, and with a smile and an apology that their sale item wasn't in stock handed me my rain check.

Three days later I called to see if the item was in stock, was told the canopies were in, but...the store manager was refusing to honor rain checks because the ad had stated "Limited Supply." Fortunately I had kept the ad and it said no such thing.

I went to the store, asked to see the manager. She wouldn't come out. A man who wouldn't tell me his name or title came instead. He argued with me! He was surly, argumentative, and rude. I showed him the rain check, showed him the ad. Explained that if nothing else, he should honor his employees' word and the fact they didn't have sale merchandise in stock. My actual thoughts were, "Idiot, you should not be arguing with a customer over this."

He disappeared into the back with my ad and my rain check. It took 20 minutes before he returned with my canopy. Altogether it took me almost an hour before I got my canopy. A friendly sales associate nearby told me I was lucky: other customers who weren't so persistent had been turned away.

Considering it took me two trips, combined time of an hour-and-a-half, and an extremely unpleasant experience, I didn't consider myself lucky. I considered myself ill-treated.

So you tell me. Is this what the "I'm empowered" campaign is all about? Giving managers the freedom to be rude to customers, and allowing them to sink both the corporate campaign and the confidence of their own employees?

Even good marketing can be sunk by morons in management.

1 comment:

Susan Gunelius said...

Amy, thanks for visiting and linking my post about Toyota #1 Brand Killer: Arrogance to your Home Depot post.

In my opinion, the poor customer service exhibited at Home Depot is unacceptable. From even the most minute service issue to one like yours, finding help at the store-level is nearly impossible. I've never worked with the corporate office, so I'm not sure how their service is (I'd assume similar if they allow it to go on in-store).

A Lowes is opening up across the street from my local Home Depot. My husband and I have been waiting for Home Depot to change their service policies before they lose all their business to Lowes. No changes yet though.