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Best Buy Delivers Customer Service To Learn From

Are you welcoming your customers back next time by giving them great service today?

In the game of golf, for myself at least, it's the one good shot I have each round that always brings me back to the links another day.

I feel the same way about great customer service. If I have a great buying or service experience with a company or store, then I'll be back, spending my money again. I'll also share the experience with my friends - in both online and face to face settings.

That's just what Best Buy hopes to see with the retail chain's new customer service approach The retailer is training its staff to be 'human search engines who can help customers find just about anything they may want to buy, even if it's sold by a competitor.

It reminds me of the old rivalry between the former Gimbels department store and its then major competitor, Macy's, which was portrayed infamously in the classic film, 'Miracle on 34th Street.' If Macy's didn't have the retail item a shopper wanted, the store staff located the item elsewhere and sent the customer to another store. The sales people at Gimbels did the same thing.

Now that was customer service.

Well, it's back, at least at Best Buy stores, according to a recent editorial by The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch.

"Begun over the summer, the effort by Best Buy, the Number 1 US electronics retailer, seeks an edge against Wal-Mart and other giant retailers by expanding its notion of customer service beyond just showing shoppers what's on the shelves," the MarketWatch story said.

"If a customer has a question, the store's blue shirted staff are charged with helping to hunt down answers, including finding a product that its stores don't yet carry," the story elaborated. "My vision is of the blue shirt as a human search engine," said Robert Stephens, Best Buy's CTO and the founder of the company's Geek Squad service team. "My vision is people will start to see a difference in the interaction they have."

Gimbels and Macy's couldn't have said or done it any better.

The concept is simple. With more and more online as well as brick and mortar stores where your customers can shop, retailers need to give them something that they can't get anywhere else, and that can start and end with great customer service.

Oh sure, your business is likely already running a CRM system to help you better manage customers, or maybe even better connect with your customers, but the human touch adds a dimension that can't be provided by any software application. Not to diminish the need for CRM software. Good technology and good customer service are complementary.

As we approach the holiday shopping season, the lessons being taught here by Best Buy are certainly worth looking at, and worth considering in your own business.

The MarketWatch article described how Stephens went undercover into a Best Buy store recently and asked to buy a tripod for an iPhone. The store didn't have the item, so the clerk did a quick Web search and showed him a Web page where it could be purchased for $14 on eBay. "Best Buy didn't make a dollar," Stephens told MarketWatch. "But the clerk did something that you can't find anywhere else."

A store doing something another store wouldn't do for a customer provides competitive advantage - that customer will return with his future buying needs.

Perhaps we are coming full circle in the world of customer service by actually seeing customers as valued people inside our stores and businesses. This is a good thing to realize if your business expects to sell products or services to customers.

Yes, we'll have to watch and see how the Best Buy experiment works out. But no matter, it makes Best Buy a place I want to shop. There's nothing more frustrating than being inside a business and not being able to find knowledgeable assistance.

 

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