Home Depot: On the Road to Becoming Customer-Friendly Again?

Home Depot: On the Road to Becoming Customer-Friendly Again?
Case Code: BSTR324
Case Length: 20 Pages
Period: 2000-2009
Pub Date: 2009
Teaching Note: Not Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: The Home Depot Inc.
Industry: Retail, Home Improvement
Countries: USA
Themes: Customer Service, Culture, Management Style, Change Management
Home Depot: On the Road to Becoming Customer-Friendly Again?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Home Depot Inc. (Home Depot) was started in 1978, to provide home improvement solutions to the people. The case discusses the culture of customer service at Home Depot. It discusses in detail, how the founders went about building a customer service culture from the very beginning. Its exceptional service became one of the prime reasons for its rapid growth in the 1980s and 1990s. However when the company started to face some operational inefficiencies (including a watering down of its famed customer service culture), a new CEO, Robert Nardelli (Nardelli) was appointed in 2000. The case highlights how, according to analysts, the company further lost its service culture under the autocratic management style of Nardelli.

As a consequence it also lost many customers to its competitors and its stocks started to under perform. In 2007, Nardelli was replaced by Frank Blake (Blake). The case depicts several measures taken by Blake to revive the customer service culture at Home Depot under challenging circumstances.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives

  • To understand the importance of customer service in a retail organization
  • To understand how the founders of Home Depot created the service culture and how its high standards of service became a major factor for the success of the company
  • To discuss the management style of Nardelli and how in his attempt to improve operational efficiencies, the customer service at the retail chain suffered
  • To analyze Blake's recovery plan and the challenges faced by him in reviving the customer service culture at Home Depot
  • Explore strategies that Blake could adopt in order to achieve his objectives



Customer service, Customer service culture, Management style, Autocratic management style, Customer Satisfaction, Data driven-culture, Change management, Change agent, Employee productivity, Leadership, Decision making, Centralization, Retail, Home improvement, Economic recession, Home Depot, Lowe's

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