13 October 2009

Sears' Blue Crew; a follow up from Saturday



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 L├ęger, 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!

20 comments:

  1. You really get some great opportunities to make the world a better place for all of us. This alone puts Sears back on the map for me.

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  2. Peter, it wouldn't be the same without you.

    Melody, the opportunities made available by social media amaze me to no end. These sorts of things were simply not available until now and it is changing the world.

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  3. Well, since so many of us seem to have the same challenges and have been steering people away, that's a smart move from a managerial standpoint.

    I look forward to it - I'm in. I think all of us would rather solve than complain, no?

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  4. Thanks Kelly, this is great. Can you think of anyone else who'd contribute something to this discussion?

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  5. That is super! This will help so many,

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  6. This is a rare, rare opportunity. Count me in. Mark@Maidique.com

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  7. Ann and Mark thank you for your willingness to get involved. This is such a great opportunity. I keep repeating myself but there's no other way to describe it.

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  8. Wow! Power to the designers! Incredible job, Paul. A tribute to your very genuine win-win-hold-the-hype ethic in doing this blog. In a world of instant experts, you are the real deal.

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  9. Thank you Nancie, that means a lot.

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  10. I'm late to the party, but I'm in too!

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  11. Oh you're not late. Besides, we need someone who's as hard-nosed a perfectionist as you are.

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  12. Hi Paul! Sorry I'm just now responding as this is the first time I've been on Twitter all day. Yes, I would be delighted to participate with you and the others for a "mega conference call" with the Sears team. I set my own hours, so for the most part, my schedule is wide open. (Please remember you are a few hours ahead of me when you set up the time.) This is a wonderful opportunity. Thanks.

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  13. Hurray! I've been waiting for your response Pam. I am going to forward my list of names to Kenmore tomorrow. I'll send out one more blanket e-mail to everybody and then Sears is going to set this up for a time next week. They are in Chicago, so they are sensitive to time zone changes. It's only us east coasters who ignore the fact that not everyone lives in EST.

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  14. Ooh! Just saw your tweet on Tweet Deck. I was taking a Miley break from Tweeterville and missed out on all the fun. Did you get anywhere with the Blue Crew? Next up, Sharp and Miele! I would like a word with Miele!

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  15. Ahhh, there you are. You were sorely missed in this exercise Laurie. And yes, it was a productive hour and I'm waiting to see what's going to come of it. More than anything though, this experience showed me what's possible when a bunch of K&B people band together and deal with a glaring problem instead of shaking our fists at bad specs in the middle of the night. I say we form a bloc and have similar chats with all of 'em. Miele and Sharp, are you listening?

    We're supposed to have a follow up at some point in the next couple of weeks. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

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  16. Great work! So satisfying to hear this news. I had a customer bring me the specs for their odd sized range from Sears four or five years ago. It was a new model, just came out and no where on the web site could I get clarification on the dimensions. I had to drive down and look at the darn thing myself to confirm what I needed to know. Ever since then, I have resisted sending my clients to Sears for appliances. Thank you Paul for making your voice heard.

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  17. You are not alone in your Sears avoidance, believe me and hearing that in a conference call with 12 designers might have driven home that point to them. It was a real thrill to put that together. I still say we should do more things like it.

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