The opportunity cost of customer service – the good, the bad and the ugly

I am sitting on hold with Best Buy, a retailer I tend to have good experiences with, except when it comes to customer service. I have purchased a LOT of goodies from Best Buy over the years, from flat screen televisions, laptops, DVDs, Blu Ray players, video games, consoles, phone accessories…you get the  picture. I am technology grabber and do a lot of grabbing at Best Buy. For the most part the experience has always been good. They have a lot of inventory and selection to appease my technology addiction. Their prices are competitive. However when it comes to service after the sale, there is something lacking. I have also leveraged their Geek Squad services, for the most part the experience has been adequate but by no means exceptional. A few examples, and I realize some of this might sound like belly aching…which it is, hey why do I write a blog if I cannot use it to vent from time to time!

  • I brought a television, purchased from Best Buy, back after a year when the picture went dead. Of course I did not have he receipt anymore so they were “limited” with what they could do…hmmmm ever think of keeping a digital copy of receipts for your clients, especially those who are members of your reward program? After telling me they would farm out the television to determine what could be done to fix it, I was put in a bit of a black hole. No idea when I would get a response. A few weeks later I get a call from someone, not Best Buy, telling me that my television would need $500 repairs…not worth it. So I told them no thanks. Of course the television gets returned to Best Buy where I told them to dispose of it as they saw fit, what was I going to do with a dead television? I realize that some might take it to another repair center to see if someone else could solve the issue, but give the customer the option. I am sure Best Buy has an after market business, why not offer consumers an option – you do not want to service the product, do you want to take it back? If not we will dispose of it and give you a 10% off coupon if you purchase a similar product within our stores in the next 30 days. Drive some sales! Make the consume happy, and not feel harassed to come back and lug a piece of electronics that will most likely end up in a land fill somewhere. Instead Best Buy can dispose of the electronics in an appropriate manner and drive some sales.
  • Another example: my car stereo went kaput. It would cost me way too much to replace it via my car dealer so I purchased a car radio via Best Buy and had their installers put it in. So far so good. Except when it was discovered that we needed another piece for the antenna…I was not getting AM radio and poor FM reception. Uh oops. I head into Best Buy and the technician is very helpful at identifying the problem and ordering the appropriate part. I am told that I will be receiving a call once the part arrives and to schedule the install. Unfortunately that puts me back into a black hole. Radio (pun intended) silence. Has the part arrived? Can I schedule my next appointment? Have I been forgotten??? Of course when I call Best Buy I get put on hold, sent to an extension that does not pick up nor has voice mail or speak to someone who clearly doesn’t do what it takes to assist. I was told – “Um oh the parts person will call you…” no call, at least no voice mail to tell me they called. So now I am stuck waiting and playing phone games. By the way, have been on hold this entire time I am writing this post! Maybe Best Buy could automate this via the web…how is that for a novel idea? I could log on, as I am rewards member, and see where my part is and even, gasp, schedule an appointment based on the technicians’ availability.

These are just two examples of where Best Buy has fallen short in my eyes with customer service and after market handling. As technology is fast moving – the cycle times of new product introduction is shrinking. So what? If the distributor of that technology can provide good after sale service I will be willing to spend more money on higher margin items: installs, training, servicing and replacements. Let us look at another technology player – Apple – and what they do.

  • I purchased an iPad last September and had to go to San Francisco for an event…on the flight the iPad went dark. Ugh. What did I do? Went to the Apple store with my sick iPad, after a short wait (there were a lot of people at the Genius Bar and I was a walk in) I was met with a personable technician who looked up my information (I bought the iPad at a Best Buy…the irony). He told me that they would take care of the problem, and simple swapped out my iPad with a brand new one. Problem solved.
  • I have had to replace 2 iPhones, again simple phone call, time schedule with the Genius Bar. New phone. Problem solved.

Now I realize that Apple stores’ inventory is on a very different scale than Best Buy, however the service and process does not have to be complicated simply because of inventory issues. Apple will continue to get my business, granted they also have outstanding products, but knowing that I can walk into any Apply store in the world and have my products serviced is an incredible value add. My iPhone has issues and I am in the middle of Paris? No problem I go to the Louvre Apple Store and have it fixed. The same cannot be said about the likes of Best Buy. Which is surprising, Best Buy should know how important that customer life time proposition is for any electronic distributor and vendor.That is the reason they acquired Geek Squad! They knew that services is where the money was to be made.

Fix your problem Best Buy, otherwise you might suffer the same fate as Circuit City. With the likes of WalMart and Target competing on price and Apple of service, Best Buy must defend their position and provide exceptional service.

Oh and I am still on hold with Best Buy…that is 45 minutes, 48 seconds! #fail!!!


1 Comment

Filed under Technology

One response to “The opportunity cost of customer service – the good, the bad and the ugly

  1. I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the structure in your weblog. Is this a paid topic or did you modify it your self? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s uncommon to peer a nice weblog like this one these days..


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