Photo from Left to Right: Ray Hinson, District Manager, Tim Wilkerson, Regional Vice President, Gulf; Tammy Campbell, District Human Resources Manage;, Kristine Gott, District Human Resources Manager; Brian Liczwek, District Manager
"What do our customers expect? Whether we are solving everyday problems like a leaky faucet or making dreams come true with a $50,000 kitchen remodel, our outdoor paradise sales associates are expected to engage with customers, keep things simple, and know the products to make sure getting the best value and quality for the money spent." – Tim Wilkerson, Regional Vice President, Home Depot
The Retailing and Consumer Science program recently hosted its annual Movers and Shakers event on April 10, providing students with unique opportunities for face-to-face interaction with Houston's highest performing retailers. A highlight of the day was keynote speaker Tim Wilkerson, regional vice president of Home Depot, Inc.
Wilkerson began his successful career with the company in 1996 as an Assistant Store Manager. He has since held positions of greater responsibility including General Manager, Director of Logistics, Sr. Director of Supply Chain, and District Manager before being promoted in September 2009 to Regional Vice President. Wilkerson is responsible for 129 stores in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and approximately 13,500 associates. Prior to The Home Depot, he worked for Best Buy and Walmart in the supply chain area of the business. He graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1991 with a BBA degree in Management.
"We are very passionate in customer service and support," said Wilkerson. According to the American Customer Service Index several years ago, Home Depot was failing in customer service, undergoing huge sales losses. But as the company gained more insight into its target customers and developed strategies for each of its segments, from "do it yourselfers" to "do it for me's" and professionals, the dismal picture changed.
"Competitors can copy pricing and products, but not the energy and drive of our associates," Wilkerson said. "Customer service is one of the most challenging areas of retailing. A customer's bad experience can drive them away for years. With all of the other options, the consumer's decision to turn into Home Depot depends on customer service," he added.
Internet and e-commerce have changed the competitive landscape dramatically, Wilkerson said, citing that Home Depot is not only competing with other brick and mortar retailers like Lowe's and Walmart, but with online retailers such as Amazon, which is ranked highest for customer service.
"We are taking care of customers with more sophistication," said Wilkerson. "Customers want to buy in the convenience and comfort of their homes, plus get great service. The selling proposition has to be very compelling to pull them off the sofa and into the stores," he said, adding that Home Depot is making great strides by intensifying customer interactions and empowering associates to make more decisions at the store level.
"We are not there yet, but we are continuing to get better with our vision to be the number one customer service retailer in the world," Wilkerson said.