Getting CX Right: Sears PartsDirect


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There’s plenty of bad CX out there.  But I had an experience not long ago with a company that was so good it’s inspired me to start a new feature in my writing (and new category on the blog) today called “Getting CX Right” to celebrate those organizations (naming names!) that knock it out of the park.  Here’s the first installation:


The top rack of our dishwasher needed a replacement part (how’s that for esoteric?) so I looked up the model number on the sticker in the doorjamb and got to Googling…  I came across Sears PartsDirect where I entered that number and was taken to a page with a series of “exploded” diagrams of all the areas of the dishwasher in question (top rack, bottom rack, hoses, jets, etc.).  When I clicked on the upper rack diagram, it enlarged and all the parts available for that part of the unit were displayed with prices and availability right next to it.  The part I needed didn’t seem to be listed, so I initiated the on-site chatbox and Michael came right up.

Before I could even tell him what I was looking for, he was able to identify the model number of the dishwasher I had looked up, and even which of the different areas I was viewing in detail apparently via some sort of tracking code they had embedded in their website.  To my astonishment, he identified my model number and even that I was looking at the top rack, asked me to verify that’s what I was looking at, and asked how he could help.  After I confirmed that, yes that was the model number, and yes, that’s the area I was looking at, I said that I couldn’t find the part I was looking for (I pointed out the number corresponding to the label in the exploded diagram to him) and within just a couple seconds he sent me a link to a photograph of exactly the part I needed.  I confirmed and he informed me that it was part of a kit (which was why I didn’t recognize the pictures of it from the offerings) and was recently updated from plastic to metal and that he could place the order right there for me.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to put my credit card information into the chat box so I thanked him but then went right to the site and ordered the part.  He assured me the chat was safe, but also was happy to confirm the part number for that kit so I could order on my own and wished me a good day (and to “Stay Safe and Healthy”).

I was so impressed with Michael’s service that I typed so long in the free-text box following the 5-stars I gave him after closing the chat window that it timed out and I’m not sure if it went through.  Fortunately, I was able to find a “Feedback” link on their website (which also, fortunately, asked me for my order number so Michael could get his recognition!) and gushed there instead.  I even reached out via InMail to the VP/GM to pass along my thanks.  He responded within a day or two thanking me for my feedback and offering to pass it on to Michael and the team.

After I received the part (within just a few days), their online videos (that I easily found via another Google search) were very clear and simple to follow.


What did Sears PartsDirect get right?

First, their website is slick and easy to navigate.  If the part I was looking for hadn’t been part of a kit (or if I’d spent a little more time looking through what was listed), I’d likely have found it right away.  After entering my model number, all parts of the entire dishwasher were easy to find based on the part of the machine I was interested in and the easy-to-read diagrams that came with each.

Secondly, their website is clearly smart.  I am always hesitant to engage with a chatbox on a vendor’s website, usually because it’s connected only to a bot, but mostly because that bot is usually useless.  But I think even a bot would have been helpful to some extent here because the entire experience was connected to what I was looking at already.  Somehow (I don’t do tech stuff), the system knew where I was looking on their site and was able to follow the search I’d already done.  One of the cardinal rules of CX is never to ask your Customers questions that you should already know the answer to.  That applies in many instances, but this is a great example:  After already having entered the model number (a non-trivial mishmash of numbers and letters) and isolated the top rack, they should already know what I’m looking for (or the general vicinity of where I’m looking).  And they did!  In fact, as I was waiting for Michael to join the chat, I had already done the ‘copy’ of the ‘copy/paste’ I’d anticipated I’d need to do.  He beat me to it by identifying my model number before I could even tell him.

And that brings us to Michael, the third great part of the experience.  Not only was he quick to join the chat, but he had all the information he needed already in front of him based on the few minutes I’d already been on his site.  He knew the products so well that he was very quickly able to associate the specific part I was looking for with a kit.  He had access to (and familiarity with) great tools that allowed him to send me a picture of the part in question for validation, and he knew the product enough to let me know it’d been recently upgraded to metal.

I’d add that a fourth great thing was that I could have just bought it right there with Michael in the chat.  If I weren’t as paranoid, I’d have done it.  But even though I didn’t, that’s still a great feature because it enables and empowers chat agents to help Customers end-to-end throughout an entire experience.  Plenty of providers could learn a lesson there:  you don’t need to send your Customers off to different departments to make the sale if you’re smart.

Finally, they followed up.  Not only did I hear back from the muckety-muck I’d contacted via LinkedIn, but I also received the following note as a response to the feedback I sent them on their site:

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. The PartsDirect leadership team reviews every comment.

We forward compliments to the appropriate teams and prioritize suggestions for improvement. Our goal is to keep getting better, and your comment helps with that goal. Thanks again.

It’s a little boilerplate, but after the great experience I’d already had, I took it to heart.  (I’d also mention that, per that second paragraph, they’re implementing my philosophy of not just listening to their Customers, but taking action based on what they hear!)


Kudos to Sears PartsDirect for showing the way.  All-in-all, this was a great experience.

(Originally Published 20201124)

Nicholas Zeisler, CCXP, LSSBB
I’m a Customer Experience executive, certified Process Improvement professional, Agile Scrum Master, dynamic educator, change management strategist, and in-demand business and leadership coach. I've worked from the inside and from the outside; in organizations large and small; public sector and private; from oil and gas to technology to non-profit (with lots in between too). I've seen a lot, but I haven't seen it all.


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