During the height of the pandemic, the last thing people wanted was strangers in their homes.
“Sales were not what they normally would be,” says Fred Stokes, who oversees sales and services for contractors at Lowe’s. But things inevitably broke, especially as items like refrigerators and toilets were being used more than usual. In April 2020, Stokes issued his team at the company’s Innovation Labs a challenge: Could they harness emerging technology to offer home-repair consultations via video chat?
By June 1, a first-of-its-kind service called Lowe’s for Pros JobSIGHT had rolled out nationwide. It enables contractors in the Lowe’s for Pros free loyalty program to conduct virtual home visits with customers, using augmented reality and other tools to capture serial numbers and product details, diagnose issues, and offer guidance. After a session, pros can review a summary to address any follow-up needs.
For Stokes, a Navy veteran who studied criminal justice before getting his MBA, and who serves on Wharton’s Research Advisory Group, it was important to keep people working. “This gave contractors another way to do business,” he says. Sales within the Lowe’s for Pros space grew 20% in 2020 year over year, and were up 30% in the first quarter of 2021.
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