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A Visit to Best Buy

A recent trip to Best Buy encouraged me to Tweet about a slow line and unhappy employee.  After my Tweet, a concerned Best Buy employee responded and asked me to elaborate on the problems I was having.  I decided to write him an e-mail.

Below is a copy of my e-mail and his response.

John,

As I mentioned, I thought it would be best to elaborate on my situation today.  Today’s situation is quite irritating on its own, however, there are other circumstances related to today that should concern your company more. I will bring those to your attention after I describe the day’s events and review some background information.

Today’s events
I came to the store to apply a gift card ($5) and RewardsZone certificate ($5) to a $140 purchase I had made a few weeks prior.  The transaction could be completed in two minutes, if done correctly.  When I got in line, there were three people in front of me.   While waiting, for somewhere near 30 minutes, I was able to watch the actions of many Best Buy employees quite closely.  Leah was the only person working customer service at the time I arrived.  She had an incredibly dreary and unhappy  look on her face for the entire 30 minutes.  I don’t think she smiled once the entire time I was in line.  She talked very quietly with little joy or excitement in her voice. While completing transactions, she had no sense of urgency and not once acknowledged the customers waiting in line.

Although Leah was the only Customer Service representative that was helping customers at the time, I saw many other Best Buy employees walking back and forth behind the counter.  None of the other employees came to help Leah or acknowledge the customers waiting in line.

Bored in line, I turned around several times and witnessed many concerning things.

  1. A Best Buy employee in the digital imaging department was not helping any customers, and was standing, literally, right behind the customer service line.  He must have been aware of the slow moving line with several people in it.
  2. Several Best Buy employees were standing and talking to one-another in the computer department.
  3. One of the store managers, a tall man, was talking to another Best Buy employee at a nearby POS system.

Combined, there must have been at least six Best Buy employees, that I could see with my own eyes, whom were not helping any other customers.  And most, if not were aware, should have been aware of the situation.  Although it was hard to hear Leah speaking, I do not believe she ever spoke into her in-store communications device asking for assistance at customer service.  I did hear her, however, ask for a Digital Imaging employee to assister her.  The digital imaging employee I mentioned earlier came over to briefly discuss something with a customer and left.

It was at this point I formulated my Twitter message.  Before I could send the message, a second store manager came over and started to help me with my transaction.  By that time, there were four people behind me in line, and two other people that had come and left the line.  I was shocked that a store manager was helping me with my transaction. To his credit , he apologized for the wait.  however he did not offer anything for compensation when I agreed waiting in line for 30 minutes was concerning.

After the transaction, I was able to send my Twitter Message.  As I returned home, I was pleasantly surprised that one of the “twelpforce” agents called her, and many responded to my tweet.

Some background information
Nearly two months ago, I was aware the store was accepting applications for seasonal help.  I filled out an application online for a customer service representative or cashier position.  I was called in for an interview the same day I submitted the application.  I came in, a week later, for an interview with Elisa on September 7th.

I believe I was exactly what Best Buy was looking for.  I had worked for Best Buy for three years during high school and college; working during two different holiday seasons.  I was recently laid off from my previous full time job and was fully available. I would need nearly zero training, could start immediately, and to top it off, I am one of the most cheerful and upbeat people I know.  And to add to that; I am passionate about process efficiency and would have been very good at quickly helping customers.

During my interview, it was stated on many occasions that cheerfulness and happiness was important.  It was also stated that bending the rules on occasion was acceptable to make a customer happy, and encourage repeat business.

I was told I would receive a call back from Elisa once they made a decision.  I never did.  I called back twice to talk to Elisa the following two weeks, and left messages for her on both occasions.  When I visited the store to make the original purchase I mentioned earlier, I talked with Elisa and ask why I was not hired.  She said I had experience with customer service and not being a cashier;  they were hiring cashiers. Maybe she didn’t remember that I had mentioned I was both a customer service representative and cashier.

Why this should concern your company
I realize this email is getting quite long, so I will try to be brief.  It appears to me that Best Buy is trying to create happy customers.  I have perceived this through commercials your company is developing, the fact that I received multiple responses to my Twitter comment, and the information I was given during my interview.  But these all are merely one-way, or distant two-way communications.

As a customer, former employee, and non-hired seasonal employee of Best Buy, I have a significantly different perception of your company than most people.  My goal in writing you is to make you aware of both today’s situation, and the situation a few weeks ago when I was not hired.  Individually, both of these scenarios are of little consequence.  Combined, however, a different picture is painted.  It seems to me that Best Buy is spending incredibly amounts of money to improve their brand image by bettering their customer interactions.  However, Best Buy is failing when it comes to the actual face-to-face customer interaction.  Today, all of the good will built by Best Buy’s advertising and promotions was eliminated by one single transaction that took over 30 minutes to complete.

It astonishes me that your company is not only hiring people that do not compliment this new “happy company” image,  it is actively seeking not to hire them.

I could write a whole other two page email about an HP representative I interacted with a few months ago and my attempts to improve that situation.  I could also write up a lengthy critique of a list of computer “optimizations” your company sells which was given to me by your employee.  Furthermore, I could assess a poorly designed Windows 7 upgrade flyer I picked up today.  But, I will not.  It is at this point I believe the free advice has run out.  But your company need’s to get with the program.

We can discuss any of this over the phone if you would like.  My  phone number is listed below.

Regards,

Ed Hayes
Information Technology Integration Analyst

I got this from John in response:

Ed

That was actually me who had called the store because I was concerned about your experience when I saw your tweet.

I agree that the below items are concerning, and I need some time to figure out an approach to rectify the situation. It may be that store process dictates employee behavior, but it seems we could have done much better here. I’ll be getting this information to the store manager asap.

With regard to the hiring situation, I realize I’m hearing only one side of the story, but it seems a bit confusing at best. Stores are empowered to make their own decisions, so I’m afraid there’s not much I can do.

Thank you for taking the time to tell us where we can be better. Info like this will help us get better.

Thanks,
John <last name truncated>

It appears Best Buy is genuinely concerned about the situation I had.  I am hopeful that my letter will encouraged better hiring practices, or at minimum, better employee training.

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