The Internet furor over a recent article about how Best Buy is slowly going out of business has important lessons for all small business owners.
When Larry Downes wrote his article, he couldn’t have anticipated that more than 2 million people would view it. Nor could he have known that it would get major coverage across the business media.
His story basically argues that Best Buy trains its employees not in product knowledge, but in pressure selling tactics, including pushing extended warranties. After the story went viral, the CEO of Best Buy felt he had to respond without mentioning the article by name.
Now there’s a follow-up article from Downes titled ‘The People vs. Best Buy, Round 2.’ It details how the author received thousands of responses to his original article, which he thought of merely like an academic exercise.”My purpose in writing the article couldn’t have been more modest,” Downes writes. “I have long been interested in why managers and executives misinterpret changing market dynamics.”
As Downes notes, Best Buy has missed the picture completely as an organization. Their prices stink and the experience in the store is so adversarial that there’s no possibility of creating a warm, friendly customer experience — the only possible saving grace that would keep people coming back despite higher prices.
One interesting thing to note is how many disgruntled former or current Best Buy employees wrote in to share their horror stories when they read Downes’ piece!
Clearly, this is a company that’s broken. But it’s not all about picking on Best Buy. If you’re a small business owner, take this lesson to heart: There’s always somebody who could undercut you on price. You have to beat them by creating a warm and inviting customer experience in order to build customer loyalty.
Meanwhile, I believe that Best Buy’s CEO had better face the music and get the company together or they will follow Circuit City into oblivion.