Technology for the rest of us.

June 19, 2009 by
Filed under: Business, Technology 

If you’ve gone to a Home Depot recently you will notice a couple of changes. First, an eager greeter at the entrance (reminiscent of Walmart) may hand you a flier along with a clever remark that makes you not only pay attention to him/her but you actually open the flier. Weird! Second, if you are browsing along the chainsaw aisle staring at the multiple HP machines in front of you someone with a friendly comment will actually offer help. What a concept! Customer service. Who thought of that? Apparently it takes a savvy business person like Marvin R. Ellison, Home Depot’s brand new CEO to come up with something like that. Back in May, Business Week ran an article highlighting the second largest retailer’s in the US new strategy .

What’s surprising about the article is the fact that they wrote an article that mentions customer service as a competitive advantage. You’d think that a retailer with such a complex line of articles has to have customer service as their number one priority. Well, apparently they didn’t. According to the article, if you go during the “power hours” of 10 Am to 2 PM Saturdays and Sundays, all associates are dedicated to customer service. So when you go shopping for your next chainsaw, go during those hours and ask questions, it is actually fun and useful.

As a tech / business geek, this impresses me as much as the launch of a new smart phone. But it highlights the importance of the basic things during economic troubles. Now imagine using technology to make it even better and more personal (in a geeky kind of way). Go to one of those price checkers that are ubiquitous across retail. Scan the barcode and a video shows you how to use it, how to select between different options, and even a couple of numbers of people who offer the service just in case you feel the chainsaw is not what you expected. Punch your email address and the video link gets sent to you so you can follow it during your ordeal at home. Sure you want a warm body to ask questions too, but you want to go home and still feel comfortable using the chainsaw.

Grocery shopping? well, how about a recipe with that striped bass you just bought and a wine that goes well with it. At Best Buy shopping for a new TV? how about some comparative TVs, what services provide HD and why you want 1080p so your wife/husband lets you go for it. And the installation instructions directly in your home email.

Sure, it will take a lot of work (and a lot of disk storage) to generate these databases, but during an economic recovery when margins are razor thin and differentiation lasts as long as a blink of an eye, technology can come to the rescue.

Enjoy.

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