A Forbes article about Best Buy going slowly out of business has been circulating among my friends. The bricks and mortar store seems to be headed the direction of Circuit City, and it’s unrealistic to say that Amazon is killing the electronics retailer. Although Amazon is tough to beat, its model is clean and efficient without the “store experience” mucking up the works or adding overhead, that’s not necessarily what’s ruining Best Buy’s reputation. Best Buy’s lackadaisical approach to customer service; it’s cattle call approach to checkout; its “loss prevention” tactics which, meant to seem friendly, are transparently suspicious of all and above all, its method of shying away from anything resembling a personal touch are what’s killing it.
We’ve all watched the “big box” stores make independent, local operations fail. Now we’re seeing Amazon eat a lot of those leftovers. Paying attention to what the survivors do well is important for businesses of all sizes. From the Forbes article:
Amazon neither invented nor appropriated its basic strategies from Best Buy or anyone else. It simply does what consumers want. Best Buy does what would be most convenient for the company for consumers to want but don’t, then crosses its fingers and prays. That’s not a strategy–or not a winning strategy, in any case, now that retail consumers aren’t stuck with the store closest to home.
An example of a company in the same market (and, incidentally, in my own backyard, headquartered in Charlottesville, Va.) stands out here. Crutchfield is an electronics company which began with the catalog model (as opposed to retail locations) and quickly entering and harnessing online sales ahead of other catalog operations. What separates Crutchfield from other electronics provider is its commitment to the customer experience. It’s real and it’s brand promise to its community has been kept over time and over a series of evolving platforms.
Crutchfield listens to its customers. It gives them what they want. It fully researches, tests, vets and explains products so customers feel comfortable buying, installing and using their products. They do this all online, over the phone and now, via social platforms. They’re responsive and generous with their time, earning customer loyalty for decades.
Are they ever going to beat Amazon? No, probably not, but the Amazon customer isn’t necessarily the Crutchfield customer. And the Crutchfield customer is never, ever the Best Buy customer. And that’s why paying attention to what customers want is important.
We couldn’t agree with you more Marijean! We work with Crutchfield to get their message out promoting the local retail stores here and in Harrisonburg. The national distribution of their catalog is a well oiled machine. They have been voted Bizrate Circle of Excellence winner for customer service 12 years in a row on a national level and won local Reader’s Choice award for excellent customer service! The focus of their creative message in the market is back to what they do best. Not competing on price (even though they have a price match guarantee) but getting back to knowledge, experience….all here locally. Hoping Cville individuals will think of Crutchfield first for their electronic needs as opposed to running to a box store. We’ve heard countless tales of patrons that receive high level customer service…no matter what they may purchase. At times, not purchasing anything! Thanks for taking a minute to bring attention to such a valuable asset right here in our community. I hope local residents choose to spend their dollars with a business so ingrained in the community like Crutchfield to ensure they will continue to be around for a long, long time!
For many years as I’ve heard small retailers fret about the big box store, I’ve tried to implore them to keep the focus on real and genuine customer service. Real service is such a rare commodity these days as most times “service” for large companies involves one of two ubiquitous and obnoxious phrases: 1- “That’s our policy”; and/or 2- “Press 1, press 2, etc.” Thanks for taking a moment to specifically recognize a local retailer that truly puts service at the forefront of what they do!
That all said, ironically within the past 24 hours I’ve experienced two stellar customer service experiences from 2 national companies via telephone – one of which has had a past reputation of having horrific customer service. Apparently Dell and Adobe are two companies starting to get the service message. In both situations the service I received was personal and real and slightly beyond the ordinary call of duty. And in the case of Dell, they subsequently called me back a day later as a follow-up and to apologize for the length of time it took to fix the issue. They even offered to send me a gift as an apology for the amount of time we were on the phone (even though in my mind I was satisfied with the solution).
Service is a very powerful magnet in terms of loyalty… Either to attract it, or to repel it.