Article/Insight

Integrated Approach to Digital Strategies Elevates Employee Satisfaction to Improve Customer Experiences in the Home Goods Sector

Leading home improvement retailers and manufacturers are redefining how they design, develop and deploy digital strategies to integrate employee (ESAT) and customer satisfaction (CSAT) levels to accomplish critical future-state objectives. 

Digital maturity—the ability to harness web, mobile and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning—is rapidly emerging as a differentiating factor for home goods organizations maintaining high customer loyalty and satisfaction levels as the pandemic enters its third year.  It is a timely area of competency for retailers and manufacturers to develop as consumers allot unprecedented time and financial resources to home improvement projects through extended—and perhaps permanent—work-from-home initiatives.

J.D. Power research has identified that organizations with persistently strong scores in customer satisfaction have focused on understanding the sudden shifts in customers’ digital expectations to establish indispensable relationships. But this requires the ability of employees to develop new skillsets in interpreting and acting on data captured across multiple channels of customer engagement. As a result, organizations are under pressure to build and maintain a motivated and constantly learning workforce, making the link between ESAT and CSAT more critical than ever in this important segment of the economy. 

J.D. Power data shows that home improvement purchases have ticked up 16% across all key categories over the last three years. Staying in the home and stimulus funds from the government have helped this surge in sales. For many households, this convergence of factors has accelerated decisions to invest in home improvement activities.

The extra time and money that many households have experienced led consumers to take on projects that they might not have been in a position to pursue otherwise. It has moved the needle positively for segments like painting and appliances.

Organizations are using technology tools to facilitate transactions and maintain a digital services relationship. This investment appears to be delivering great dividends over time, as digital agility matures and brings with it the ability to offer new value-added services to support consumers through the buying process and beyond.

Same Boat, Different Storm

Digital maturity has also emerged as a success factor in responding to supply chain issues and staffing shortages that have plagued the retail sector in general. Mastering technologies that provide employees and customers with access to critical information and automated processes will be essential in staying ahead of the digital curve as the hangover effect of the pandemic lingers. 

Leading companies in the home-goods and home-improvement sectors were already well-positioned to remain agile as the landscape changed dramatically. They experienced lower service- and product-delivery disruptions than others in the market. Organizations with mature digital go-to-market initiatives already had their teams—and strategies—in place to support customers online to provide a seamless hybrid experience integrating in-store, pickup and home delivery services.

By contrast, retailers and manufacturers that found themselves behind that digital curve scrambled to cobble together virtual solutions as customers leaned into digital engagement channels. 

With little to no access to brick-and-mortar stores, these organizations had to invest and navigate an unfamiliar digital space quickly. By only starting their digital journeys during the pandemic, they were forced to compete for scarce talent and expertise during a historic pullback in the available workforce.

Future-Proofing for the Unexpected

Digital innovation will continue to play a significant role in defining the future of this market. Decision-makers will have to pair their approach to innovation with a practical customer-centric perspective on functionality. 

Developing a new product or service without a strong connection to—and understanding of—new customer expectations has the potential to backfire at a time when any misstep could be detrimental to the overall brand. Providing customers with straightforward ways to engage—especially at the retail level—leads to the critical flexibility that is top of mind with all customers in this environment.

Digital strategies offer more options and opportunities to address these changing variables quickly and effectively. Ongoing success will require home improvement manufacturers and retailers to track constantly changing customer requirements proactively. 

J.D. Power will continue to keep its finger on the pulse on the home improvement industry. In our 2022 home improvement platform of studies, we will provide the industry with a window into customer expectations. By taking a closer look at digital developments and providing digital advisory services to our clients, we will equip our clients with the insights that will proactively inform them of necessary updates to apps or websites without spending precious resources reacting too late to changing variables and unfolding trends.

Find out More

To learn more about the underlying research behind this industry briefing or schedule an interview with Christina Cooley, director of home and retail intelligence at J.D. Power, please contact us at the numbers below.

Media Contacts
Brian Jaklitsch; East Coast; 631-584-2200; [email protected] 
Geno Effler, J.D. Power; West Coast; 714-621-6224; [email protected]