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An Open Letter To Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly With An Industry P.S.

12/05/2012 09:39:00 AM

Mr. Hubert Joly

CEO

Best Buy

Dear Mr. Joly,

I know you are working hard to turn Best Buy around, and I hope you succeed.  I’m a technology enthusiast and in the past have spent many hours and much money at Best Buy. But, as you well know, there is a lot that needs to change.

I just got back from my local Best Buy, having attempted to buy a white 16GB iPad Mini as a Christmas gift. Not surprisingly, I found they are out of stock.  That’s not Best Buy’s fault; they’re in short supply, including Apple’s retail and online stores. 

The Blue Shirt I spoke with said he could order it for me, and I would have it “before Christmas,” a “date” I found a little unsettling. Nonetheless, I agreed, and we sat down to place the order. It was then that things fell apart for reasons I think you should know.

While he sat there putting information in the computer, I sat wondering if I wouldn’t be better off looking elsewhere. Still, I decided I would go ahead with the order until he said I needed to buy a $50 store gift card, quickly adding, I could use it to offset the cost of the product when it arrived. 

And he also asked for my driver’s license, which struck me as unnecessary simply to order a product. Why not just take my name and number and call or text me when it arrives? Or allow me to track its shipping progress via text as does Apple’s online store?   

I again asked about delivery and once again he said he didn’t know other than “before Christmas”.  At that point I said, “So you want me to give Best Buy $50 ahead of you being able to give me what I want in time for Christmas? Or even assure me you will be able to deliver before Christmas. If I do and you don’t get the product in time, I would be forced to spend $50 on something I probably don’t want or need, while still needing to find the gift iPad somewhere else.” He somewhat sheepishly said, “That’s true,” and with that I thanked him and left the store.

I understand the potential benefit to Best Buy. One way or the other, gift in time for Christmas or not, I would have spent no less than $50 at Best Buy. But that isn’t what happened. 

Instead I came home and just prior to beginning this letter, I completed my iPad order at Apple’s online store. For Best Buy, no $50 sale, no $329 iPad Mini sale.  For me, nothing other than reaffirmation that things at Best Buy are still not close to where they need to be.

To overly simplify a complex calculus, for most consumers there are three important elements when shopping for technology: product, price and customer experience. While many in the industry believe that price is of greatest importance, you only have to look to Apple, McIntosh, Crutchfield and a few select others to see that customer experience is much more critical. Best Buy can offer an attractive assortment of product at competitive prices but without the customer experience piece of the puzzle, nothing will change for the better.

I wish you and all of Best Buy happy holidays and better times ahead.

Regards,

Bill Matthies

P.S. to the Industry

If you feel this was only intended for Best Buy, you’ve missed the point. While this example is specific to them, the lack of attention to the customer experience is not. It is an industrywide problem.

CE retailer and manufacturer business strategies that do not emphasize customer experience have little chance of succeeding.

William Matthies is the CEO of Coyote Insight (CoyoteInsight.com) and can be reached at wmatthies@coyoteinsight.com or at (714) 726-2901. Visit the “7 Keys of Change” page on Facebook at Facebook.com/CoyoteInsight.

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