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

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR324 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Customer Service / Culture / Management Style / Change Management
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2000-2009
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : The Home Depot Inc.
Industry : Retail; Home improvement
Countries : USA


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.


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.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background Note 2
Age-Old Customer Service Culture 4
Change of Management Style and Loss of Service Culture under Nardelli 7
The Consequences of Nardelli's Changes 10
Blake - The Change Agent 11
Outlook 12
Exhibits 15


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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