Kudos to Lowes In Gurnee, Illinois For Getting It Right

Posted by Rick DeMarco on 15 June 2016

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Big box stores like Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes have become the go-to destination for home improvement products, from building materials to landscaping supplies and plants to hardware. And yet they are notoriously bad when it comes to providing an exceptional customer experience for the average consumer who isn’t an expert in the task he/she is undertaking. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for and even harder to find an associate who can help. In fact, there are a number of television commercials running today that poke fun at the difficulty of finding a knowledgeable assistant at stores like this. Occasionally, you find a store that breaks out of the pack, but there is great inconsistency from store to store.

So what if you found a location that really did have engaged and inspired employees who create an exceptional customer experience? Would you go anywhere else? I had such an experience last week at the Lowes location in Gurnee, Illinois. I needed to buy 60 bags of mulch, but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get them home, since I drive a mid-sized SUV. When I arrived at the Lowes, I found an associate and told him my problem. He suggested that I buy the 60 bags, see what we could get loaded in my truck, and he would hold the remaining bags for later pick-up. Sounded reasonable to me, so I went to the cashier and made the purchase. That’s when the magic started happening.

After explaining my plan to the cashier, she suggested that we split the order in two, one half to be designated as taken by the customer and the other half held for future pickup.  She said that if we were able to load more than the 30 bags, she would just void the transaction and rewrite it for the correct amounts. She then told me to drive my truck around and she would personally help me load up. 

As I drove up to the front of the store, I was met by two associates. When I explained what I was doing, an associate named Dave asked why I wouldn’t just let them deliver the whole order, for a cost of $60. He then said that he could do better than that and if I were willing to sign up for an account, he could deliver it the next day for $20. Considering the wear and tear on my vehicle and the need to make 2 or possible 3 trips, this sounded like a plan. But Dave didn’t stop there. He personally walked me over to the customer service desk, helped me fill out the application, and double checked to make sure they could deliver the load in the morning. At this point, I was really impressed with his willingness to go above and beyond to create a great customer experience. But then he told me that I would get an additional 10% off the order by signing up and that would cover the delivery charge. Finally, he helped the cashier void out the original transaction and write up a new order with the 10% discount applied.

As I was leaving the store, I ran into Dave in the garden section who, after noticing that they only had 70 bags left in inventory, had grabbed another associate and told him to shrink wrap my 60 bags and put them in the back so there was no risk that when the delivery truck showed up in the morning, there wouldn’t be enough mulch to fill my order.

So I ended up buying the 60 bags of mulch that I went into the store to buy, saved wear and tear on my truck, avoided multiple trips to get the full order, and ended up getting it all delivered the next morning by 9 a.m. for no charge after receiving a new account discount.  What made all of this even more amazing is the store was fairly crowded at the time I was there. So it wasn’t as if Dave did all of this because he had extra time on their hands. I truly felt like he exerted exceptional discretionary effort to make my experience the best it could be. What did Dave do right?

  1. He was available immediately to follow through on the purchase and get me loaded
  2. He recognized that there was a better way to meet my needs
  3. He took the initiative to not only explain a better solution, but walk me through the process
  4. He made sure that Lowes could deliver on his commitment to me

Now, if Lowes could duplicate Dave’s passion and engagement in all of its stores, they would blow Home Depot and Menards out of the water.