Back in January I wrote about some of my experiences at Best Buy after reading comments about the company by Larry Downes on Forbes.com. Conversations around that post and in others around the topic of “big boxes” versus online have solidified my opinion that those stores which are not willing to adapt and change the way they do business are doomed to fail. Much of the change needed, from what I and others I’ve talked with agree, revolves around customer service.
Since I posted that piece, there has been a bit of news about Best Buy, notably:
- Former CEO Brian Dunn stepped down
- They are closing some stores
- Their interim CEO is working on plans for improvement
- Their cutting additional jobs (added 7/10/2012)
From the big picture, things could be considered to be looking bad. But I saw a ray of sunshine during a recent visit to my local Best Buy.
I took on a new job which requires some work at home. I received a new notebook computer from my new employer, which I wanted to set it up to use my keyboard, monitor and mouse without having to unplug everything to switch between my home and work machines. Thus, a new KVM switch was in order.
I looked around online and found one at Best Buy which I felt would work perfectly. Since I needed it that day, I headed out to my local store to get it.
As I prepared to enter, I braced myself for the usual experience: pushy sales people, endless upselling requests and having a hard time finding what I wanted.
I was in for a shock, though, because what happened on this visit was quite the opposite.
When I entered the door, the greeter stepped out from behind his little podium, said “Hello” and asked me if I knew what I was looking for. I told him I was there to get a KVM switch. He thanked me and turned away to speak into his radio as he walked back to his podium.
As my wife and I headed towards the back of the store, a young associate approached me and presented me with the very same KVM I saw on their web site and asked, “Is this what you were looking for?”
I was both shocked and delighted. It was the exact item I was looking for. I thanked him and walked back to the front of the store.
The lady who checked me out asked if I found everything OK. I replied that I hadn’t; to which she responded with a very sad face. I went on to explain that I didn’t have to find what I was looking for because the guy at the front of the store radioed to someone in the back what I was looking for and that person brought it to me without me having to do anything else. She smiled and mentioned that this type of service was an idea the greeter had come up with.
As I drove home with my wife, she wondered if that was a good way for them to upsell without being obvious about it. After all, they could have offered a more expensive item and many people would not know the difference. She may have a good point.
In the meantime, on the next occasion I need something Best Buy sells, I’m going to stop in and see if this new service level is a trend. If it is, they may have come upon one way they can be competitive in the customer service realm.