Ace Hardware was recently awarded with their 11th straight J.D. Power award for best customer service, which explains why Ace Hardware has grown dramatically where today they have over 5,000 stores. Most significantly, all using the exact same customer model. When I asked John about the secret to the Ace model, he replied, “We call great customer service our weapon in the world. We reduce the amount of non-customer facing time so we can increase the amount of customer facing time, we align store talent with our projections for customer visits, and our most important bucket we call, “operationalizing helpful.” And I witness this every time I go to an Ace Hardware. For example, I bet they will ask a differnet question than you’re used to … “what can I help you find today?” Those last two words are the key. And they follow up by informing staff member via earphones, that you are coming so the staff is ready to help.
To all CEOs who want to elevate their service the lesson is clear, operationalize service so it becomes consistently excellent.