If Bill Clinton were asked to give advice to Best Buy on how to energize its business, he may very well dust off a line from the 1992 Presidential campaign. The famous line chided George H.W. Bush for being out of touch with voters' needs when Clinton said "it's the economy, stupid." In the case of Best Buy, Clinton's suggestion would likely be "it's the experience, stupid." Best Buy announced this week that it was closing 50 big box stores and opening 100 smaller locations. I hope the strategy works for Best Buy, but the problem is much deeper.
My trips to Best Buy in recent months and accounts of others' current perceptions that I have heard and read reveal great dissatisfaction with the shopping experience. Need help from a knowledgeable salesperson? Good luck with that. For that matter, good luck getting help at all unless you are fortunate that salespeople will take a timeout from their personal conversations to acknowledge you. Product knowledge for the typical salesperson is limited to basic features and benefits. However, they are well schooled in pitching service plans and product coverage plans. One is left with the feeling that the aim is to extract as much money as possible from customers' wallets.
The above commentary on Best Buy and its employees is painted with broad strokes. I know that there are many dedicated, exceptional employees working for the company. But, there are too many instances in which the experience does not add value for customers. Personally, I have gone from looking forward to going to a Best Buy store to it being an option of last resort.
Perhaps a shift toward smaller stores will create a more interactive environment. The quality of employees on the sales floor may be higher if smaller stores mean fewer positions, creating more competition. Take Bill's advice, fix the experience, and make Best Buy an awesome shopping environment again.
NPR - "Best Buy Rethinks the Big Box Model"
Labels: Best Buy, Customer Experience