Over the years I have avoided Best Buy as much as possible, due to a series of poor customer service experiences. There were a couple times in particular where the shelves were empty of a particular item and the sales guy shrugged his shoulders and offered no further help. I prefer to buy online or, in a pinch, my husband has kindly done the shopping there and dealt with the customer service know-nothings.
I was "forced" to return to Best Buy last October in search of a last-minute gift item, and I was amazed to have a salesperson approach me and offer his help. Not only that, but when the computer showed the item was in stock but it wasn't on the proper shelf, the clerk spent a good 10 minutes prowling the aisles until he found it. The improper shelving wasn't a good thing, but the salesperson's tenacity was, and I left that day happy. I don't think I'd ever had a Best Buy clerk offer his help before, let alone actually follow through and deliver.
Yesterday I again went in for a couple last-minute items there wouldn't be time to order. Once again, a salesperson asked if she could help me find what I needed. And the checkout clerk was so pleasant that my college-age daughter commented on his nice attitude with surprise. Friendliness is simply something we haven't experienced at Best Buy before this year.
Thus it was quite interesting to come aross an article in today's USA TODAY about the efforts Best Buy is making to provide better service, particularly to women. Where previously the store was designed as a loud "grab and go" environment with guys in mind, now "shoppers may notice a softer, more personal atmosphere. Music is quieter... Salespeople talk to customers..."
This contrasts with a business article I read about Best Buy a couple years ago, in which the store categorized customers as devils and angels, wanting to get rid of more casual browsers and bargain hunters, while focusing on tech-knowledgeable customers who would buy big ticket items. Obviously that rather rude and calculated approach didn't work for the store.
USA TODAY terms the recent changes the "feminization" of the store. While Best Buy's CEO also comments that "Women likely will notice and appreciate some of the changes more," it seems to me that this goes far beyond gender issues. This is about a company (finally) deciding that good customer service is a worthwhile investment.
And they're right.