Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not the Typical Best Buy Experience

Last week, Best Buy Co., Minneapolis, reported that it was renewing its focus on its top-spending customers. As my husband Jack told me about his own visit to Best Buy last week, I found this amusing.

Jack, a professional photographer, is an avid Best Buy fan. Besides being a Best Buy credit-card holder, he spends an average of $700 per year with the company (he makes technology purchases for both his business and personal needs.)

Two weeks ago, Jack purchased a Canon camera from the new store that recently opened here in Baldwin, N.Y. The camera wasn’t in stock during this visit, so he decided to order the camera in the store and pick it up when it arrived at the location.

While picking up the camera last week however, service took an unexpected turn. Jack made his way to the customer-service/order-fulfillment counter and dealt with a twentysomething “blue shirt,” or sales associate. Unsure how to find the order, she called someone who, we assumed, was a supervisor.

“Some guy is here to pick up a camera he ordered,” she said into the telephone.

Insulted by her demeanor, my husband stopped her and said, “Some guy? Is that how you talk to a customer?” Realizing she made a mistake, she apologized and told her supervisor that “Jack” was here to pick up his order.

When the camera finally arrived at the customer-service desk, the associate started turning the box to see the content.

“Is this one of those fancy cameras?” she asked. Jack was uncertain as to how to answer her. Also, he was afraid she was going to drop the camera before he even got to use it.

All kidding aside, if retailers are going to have teens and twentysomething employees interacting with their “best-spending” and loyal customers, they really need to ensure a consistent standard of training. This includes making sure that associates know how to address the customer, as well as guaranteeing they also have sufficient knowledge of what product is being sold on the sales floor, what it is and how it works—something that I always thought was considered a trademark for Best Buy’s “blue shirts.”

Clearly, this might have been an isolated incident. However, this story should make all retailers consider the interactions—and store-level training—that are actually happening in their own stores.

—Deena Amato-McCoy

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