13 October 2009
Posted by Paul Anater at 6:55 AM
I wrote a post on Saturday that detailed the trouble I ran into when I was looking for detailed specifications for a Kenmore built-in microwave oven. That post set off a firestorm of commiseration in my comments section and on Twitter that lasted throughout the weekend. When I first wrote that post I thought that I was the only one who had these frustrations. To say I'm not alone in this is an understatement.
On Twitter there were numerous reTweets of my post and some loud calls for Sears to pay attention to what I was saying about their lack of clear dimensions. I hoped genuinely that someone at their HQ would respond. Despite how it may sound, I don't like to bash for the sake of bashing. I'd rather find solutions. Really.
Well, on Monday morning I received an e-mail from Michael Léger, a member of Sears' management team. He'd been forwarded my blog post and he wanted to talk to me about my experience with Kenmore. He was very clear in his e-mail that he wasn't out to make a Kenmore convert out of me. Rather, what he wanted to gain from a conversation with me was a better understanding of the sort of information design professionals need from them. I called him almost immediately.
I'd written some unflattering things about Sears and I expected the conversation to be a bit awkward, but it wasn't at all. This wasn't a matter of a big company trying to schmooze me so that I would take back the mean things I said about them. Rather, he was genuinely interested in what a kitchen designer needed from a manufacturer. I stressed to him that I wasn't alone in my frustration and he listened. He asked if I'd be willing to talk to him and a couple members of his team and of course I agreed. I don't want anyone to fail, whether I'm a customer or not.
I was so impressed with the conversation we were having that I volunteered to ratchet up the level of discourse by an order of magnitude. I told him that I would assemble a team of my own, a group of kitchen designers. My team would have a mega conference call with his team and together, we'd tell Sears what we need from them. Again, this is not an attempt to sway brand loyalties, but what it is is a rare opportunity to communicate directly with a very large player in the appliance business.
So I need some brave volunteers to participate in this conference call. Jamie, Susan, Kelly, Pam and Clarity; as commenters on Saturday, I'm starting with you. Whattya say about taking the opportunity to do something about our complaints? These guys are willing to listen and all we have to do is pick up the phone. I'll arrange everything so that it happens at an appointed time some time in the near future. Think about it, they want our feedback, how cool is that?
I'm opening up this invitation to any kitchen designer who deals with appliances. I'd like to get a list of participants and their availabilities to them by Friday. So designers, spread this around to your colleagues.
This not an opportunity to complain, but rather a chance to build something. Come on gang, let's do it!