How Office Depot Takes 15,000 Customer Comments Per Week & Turns Them Into Sales

Have you ever called, e-mailed, gone to the service desk, or filled out a form to tell a retailer something? How often and how fast has someone gotten back to you? Not much? Hardly Ever? Never? It creates a really bad feeling about the retailer and kills your desire to shop with them, doesn't it? So how would you feel if a retailer contacted you immediately to discuss the problem -- even without your asking?  Office Depot is doing just this -- leveraging customer feedback to drive sales -- and it has turned out to be very good business.

Continuing my quest to see what some of the big retailers (Like Office Depot, Best Buy, Staples,  JCPenney, and Walgreens) are doing about eCommerce Online Retail Competition, I want to explore how Office Depot is using information from shoppers to build stronger eCommerce presence and drive sales.

According to ROI (Retail Online Integration) article*, Office Depot not only listens to what their customers are saying, they're acting on it. (Joe Keenan of ROI* reported on what he heard from Office Depot customer research director, Chris Childers, at the Annual Summit in Chicago).

First, Office Depot receives more than 15,000 customer comments per week — and it reviews each one of them! When they start their shift, store employees review the previous day's shoper comments. If a customer has a negative experience, the store manager will follow up with them (immediately) to see if they can fix the problem.

Apparently, most retailers collect customer feedback, but few ever do anything with it, so they (the customers) are truly surprised to hear from you. On the other hand, based on customer feedback, Office Depot also reviewed its internal process and reprioritized areas of focus.  For its brick-and-mortar locations, the improvements desired were stocked shelves, fast checkout, and knowledgeable and friendly staff. 

To get better insights into its individual online shoppers, Office Depot uses surveys on its website. From this information, Office Depot learned that delivery is a source of frustration for a lot of customers -- both how long it takes to receive their order as well as the condition it's in whey they get it. So, Office Depot immediately went into action to address the problem.

Does it work? According to Office Depot, this specialized customer service, both in-store and online, has resulted in improved customer satisfaction and increased conversion rates.

Here's Office Depot's advice regarding the abundant customer feedback available and turning it into a revenue generator:

1. Understand your brand and its goals.

2. Gain a better understanding of your customer.

3. Collect real-time customer feedback.

4. Organize your processes based on the customer.

5. Close the feedback loop — call them back!

6. Get the right info to the right people at the right time.

7. Continually evaluate and adapt according to what your customers are telling you.   

Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line

Office Depot is leading the way for retailers to pay attention to customers, listen to what they are saying -- and then act on it.  All the points are important, but I think the most important takeaway is: Continually evaluate and adapt according to what your customers are telling you.    

In addition to its astute customer attention, kudos to Office Depot for being one of the first retailers to bring the pricing intelligence solution in-house, having bought one of the premier purveyors of pricing intelligence last year.  

*Source: How Office Depot is Leveraging Customer Feedback to Drive Sales (Retail Online Integration).  

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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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