There's a reason I love Best Buy!
I have to say, since I was a teenager, I loved Best Buy. I would shop there often and would think about the store when I wasnt there. And, still, today I have a desire and drive toward that company more then any other electronics company (nay, company in general). But what is it that drives people like me toward a, still, heartless, profit driven, behemoth beacon of capitalistic nonsense? First and foremost, they have always treated me well. I have purchased products that appeared new, but lacked the contents (due to some punk kid thieves) and was able to exchange copies without any hassel or questions asked. I am always greeted at the door when I enter (whether I want to be or not). They price things like new release movies at a decent sale price where other retailers charge full (or more) for quite some time before the prices are reduced. The reward zone program allows for the customer (namely me) to feel like they are part of the company by giving coupons that equal a certain cash value toward another bestbuy purchase in order to reward people for shopping there. Further this program gives periodic % off coupons for purchases as well.
But why does BestBuy do this and other competing companies dont? Could it be because Best Buy gives customers something more then the required purchase to item ratio and thus increases the confidence and trust they have so that they will come back in the future? Or are they simply insane to spend the extra time, money, and effort that their competitors seem to have no interest in? I, personally, think it is fantastic that they go above and beyond the call of duty in order to make their customers feel like they are apart of their organization and that they actually matter.
Now, I have worked inside the Best Buy corporate headquarters and I have been the "higher ups". They are your typical beaurcratic, profit driven, seemingly heartless business men and women. With few exceptions, they wouldnt give you the time of day if asked let alone treat you like a human being in person unless you had money to give them. Normally, I would avoid a company run by such people like a plague, but, I feel, as a customer, I am treated pretty well. That, and there are very few companies who arent run by people like that, and most of those companies dont make the customer feel welcome to any great degree.
But enough rambling about how great or not Best Buy is. Their company has flourished because they have been innovative and actually listened to those outside of their inner circle. Those refering to the customer base, their lower level employees, and even those who have no affiliation with the company what so ever. Things like taking a company of 70 employees and turning into 12000 employees while expanding across North America while filling a long sought after service (aka Geek Squad) shows just how willing Best Buy is to gain and maintain their customer base. (Wikinomics p. 239)
Bringing Geek Squad into the focus and reading about Robert Stephens impressed me a little. First off he was a student at the UofM which brings him a little closer to home then the "larger then life" mentality that I typically associate with names attached to big companies. (Wikinomics p. 239) Secondly, the fact that he actually listened and explored why his employees werent using his wiki and further adapted his system and setup toward their needs is inspiring. (Wikinomics p. 246)
The problems I see with many modern companies is that they still see the consumer and employee base as ignorant, spineless, and unorganized, when, in reality, the opposite is true. To an extent, the previous might be true of the older generations who grew up without the access to information that the younger generations are privilaged and they have been the customer base for quite some time now, but the more educated and flexible generations dont fall for the same tricks. Therefore, the companies who hang on to the mentalities of "work place hierarchy" and "consumer ignorance" will soon fade away.
A news report I read some months back indicated that Generation Xer's are causing drastic changes in the business world. They demand moderate days, decent wages, significant amounts of time off (paid even) to raise a family, and flexible working environments. It basically indicated that the younger generations dont simply want to work their lives away doing meaningless work while missing out on the joys of life. I wish I could still find that article so that I could quote it, but it is long since buried in the archives of yahoo! news. I have to say, we should demand no less. Life is too short to simply work 24/7 and miss out on what really matters in life. Companies like Enron show us that it's just not worth it.
Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. Pg. 239-267.