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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.

Comments

David,
I feel the same in that I have always liked Best Buy compared to any other electronic company out there. I have always purchased my televisions, computers, and most of my cd collection from there. The reason that I prefer the store is that they have always been good to me and their prices are always competitive. My husband is self-employed and has a rewards card that allows him to get savings on certain items he may need and gets superior service by not having to stand in long lines. Overall I think that Best Buy does a great job keeping their customers satisfied.

I do agree that the fast paced mass collaboration environment is making innovative waves among the business world, however I do not believe that the busy style or traditional work place will completely fade away because of the need of direction and stability. There needs to be a unique balance between both of them.

I can confirm that the work ethic of younger generations is very different from their predecessors. One of my co-workers is 21 years my junior. She is very bright, motivated and conscientious. She does not and won't agree to working long hours or the sort of self-exploitation that my generation assumed was necessary to get to the top. I admire her self-respecting ethic. At the same time however, it causes conflict when those of us who invested in the old system are passed up for shiny new employees. We agreed to the old fashioned way--plain hard work--because we were taught that it would reward us in the long run. We can no longer assume we'll be rewarded for our efforts. When I first started noticing the changing work ethic, it made me bitter. But then I thought that maybe Generation X will succeed in changing our culture's work ethic to one that is more balanced and reasonable. If I have to tag along, that's fine with me!

Hello David, I love Best Buy too! You were totally clear in explaining why you love Best Buy. You sold me even more . . . and I'm sure you'll sell others who read this. In addition, you're an insider as you have had ties to Best Buy, so your words mean more than a random person. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and reading your thoughts, experiences, and stories of Best Buy! Go Best Buy! Go David!

Speaking as a GenXer who once quit a job to travel to Alaska for the summer and has been laid off three times due to job relocation and restructuring, I refuse to spend all my time working. Life is too short to slave away for a company. Especially when most companies think nothing of shedding their employees at their convenience. That's why we are "at will" employees. Some of my older co-workers didn't understand my passionate hatred of unpaid overtime or casual attachment to the company, but since the layoff, they are starting to understand.

p.s. I've loved Best Buy ever since their stock was only $16.

I think your post proves that there is still something to be said for customer loyalty despite the shift to online buying. I have always felt a similar affection for certain stores (like Home Depot, Apple store, etc) who provide superior customer service and are always able to answer my questions or direct me to someone that is. While certain products may be available online for a cheaper price - sometimes it is better to just go where you know that someone knows the answer and you don't have to muck around with the research for a one time purchase. I haven't shopped much at best buy because I don't often purchase electronics type things, but I love the geek squad and will certainly consider the store in the future!

LOL WOW 5 comments! That's so awesome. Reading it again, it does sound sort of "advertisy", but that wasnt my intent. The main point I was making was that companies need to cater to a new, well educated, and individualistic society in terms of customer bases and employee standards. If technology allows for people to work remotely and spend more time with their families and friends, then the leaders of the business world should adapt to this. If for no other reason then it is the right thing to do. But they should also keep in mind that all people are potential customers. And they will spend their money where they are happiest at. (I cant seem to word that to make 100% sense, but I think it conveys the general point I am making). And this is all related to mass collaboration because money cycles faster when people can work more efficiently and happily.

I simply feel BestBuy knows this, at least to a visible extent.