One of the ways I tell that the jobless rate in an area has increased is by looking at the Staples parking lot. People without jobs often set up or improve their home offices—either to help them look for jobs and/or to build their own small business. It makes you feel better. It puts you in control of your destiny. And there are lots of helpful, upbeat Staples associates who will lend a helping hand.
We've been fans of a lot of things that Staples has done right. Its stores are well-marked and easy to navigate. Its main web site is also easy to use and has some "firsts" for office supply stores, like customers' ratings and reviews. (Who would have thought that these mattered for office supplies? But they do!) And Staples’ world-class re-invention of rebates — EasyRebates — was one of the case studies in Outside Innovation.
But we've discovered one area in which Staples (and many other businesses) could do a much better job. It's an investment that would pay off big time in customer loyalty as measured by actual repeat business. Staples needs to make it easier for its customers to "manage their stuff." In particular, Staples should make it easy for people to categorize their purchases by project or client. They should let you track the purchases of multiple people on a single, linked account. Staples should make it much easier to get a picture of everything you've spent in a given time period, and to sort and organize it. They should make it easier to repurchase something from a previous order. And they should make it easier to replenish things you purchase frequently. These all seem like missed opportunities for Staples (and for any company catering to business customers).
For more insight about what Staples does well and not and where you might improve the experience for your business customers, read Ronni Marshak’s Customer Experience Audit.
How How Well Does Staples Help a Small Company “Manage My Stuff?”
Customer Experience Audit of Staple’s Capabilities to Let Small B2B Customers Manage Their Relationship
By Ronni T. Marshak, Executive VP and Senior Consultant, July 21, 2011