Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Technology/Lifestyle Consultations

I have worked for Best Buy for three years now, and I can’t accurately count the number of times when a friend, relative, or new acquaintance asks a question that normally starts, “I know you aren’t at work but…” and then ends with them asking for advice around technology. I really enjoy these situations for a few reasons. It shows that people consider Best Buy and me sources of knowledge that they can trust. Personally it is part of what makes my current role at Best Buy satisfying. I enjoy helping people with technology and making life easier and more enjoyable through the latest advancements.

The idea I am going to put forth in this update is that Best Buy should offer advice on technology throughout the entire home. This currently happens in two different ways. The first and most obvious is though our Double Agents and Geek Squad Installers around Networking and Home Theater respectively. We also offer advice in store to customers about their technology based on the conversations that we have with our customers. My suggestion is that we take what we do now and expand it. Let’s start offering Technology Consultations around anything and everything in a client’s house.

There are reports out there that an average person currently only uses about 20% of the potential features/benefits from the technology in their home. The point of having a Technology Consultation from a customer lens would be to have an expert come to your house, a professional that knows how to use the technology, coach you around how to use it, and educate you around what you need to do to unlock the potential. This Professional would also use the art of possibility in order to inspire the customer towards the great things that they could be doing in their home.

This service provides benefits to both the Customer and to Best Buy. For the customer they gain the use of the features and benefits of the technology that they have existing in their homes, along with an understanding of the pieces they want/need to add to make it all work, and they gain awareness of other technologies they may want to implement in their home. The benefits for Best Buy are that this will drive customers into the stores to purchase products and services, the customers will also be more loyal, and this creates customer awareness of more of the services and products that we offer.

The next issue is the logistics. In our current services model in home services can be expensive proposition on our end. The costs to put an Agent of any sort into a customer’s home is certainly what drives the price point on the in home services, so the question becomes how do we offer this service to the customer while maintaining profitability and productivity? There are a few solutions that I have to this issue we could offer the service for free relying on a great customer experience to drive enough customers to pay for the service, we could offer the service for a fee then offer a discount coupon for product, services, service plans etc, or we could provide this service without actually going to the customers’ homes.

First, let’s look at the pros and cons of offering the service for free. Pros: Drives awareness, customer education, brand loyalty. Cons: It is expensive to send in home technicians to clients homes. The point of this service is not to bankrupt the company, so if we were going to offer this service to our customers we would have to run extensive testing to ensure that we are going to gain a return on investment (ROI). The average cost for a company to put an employee into a customer’s home is between $50-100, which means that the average customer would have to spend an average of $250, assuming the average margin in retail being 30% and more if that margin is lower. That makes this idea DOA as far as I am concerned, as an idea that involves employees in customers’ homes can be an expensive endeavor, and without a way to pay for it we could never win the hearts and minds of those in charge of in home services.

Next, consider charging for the service. This sounds like a winning solution as well, due to the fact that each counseling session will be paid for, thus we have instant ROI. This is something that we currently do in Home Theater and in PC Networking, so adding this wouldn’t be very difficult and could probably be added to the stores overnight if we so chose. It would only take a small bit of training for Das, HEAs, and GSIs, a blurb in employee news, and a mention at the next morning meeting to make it successful. This could be a win-win situation for Best Buy and its customers, but let’s not forget the third solution.

That brings us to my actual innovation. What if we didn’t have to go to the customer’s house in order to provide a technology consultation? The answer is that we could provide this service for a greatly reduced cost to ourselves and to our customer. The way we could do this is very similar to the way that we currently provide customer service via Twelpforce. Customers would submit a list of their current electronics, pictures of their house, and descriptions of what they like to do and what they want to do. Then a one of our entertainment coaches would look over the submissions, and submit a quote back to the customer letting them know what we would charge to do what they wanted. This quote would include all of the products, services, etc; they would need to put together the perfect solution. Also, because the low cost to provide this service, we could offer it to our customers for free.

Let me know what you think, post a comment here or on Ideax:


  1. Michael,

    We haven't met yet, but my name is Josh Kahn, I'm the Social Media Manager at corp. I'm also the lead for Facebook and am the product manager for IdeaX. I'm relatively new to the gig but have been at Best Buy for awhile. I work on the same team as John Bernier if that helps for context. He's a fan of yours.

    I'm digging your idea. I think it might require a bit of refinement to enact, but potentially we could build something using remix, whereby a customer uses an online interface (or we provide different options for entering the info) and "maps out" the stuff they have in their home. Essentially like creating their "digital home profile". We'd provide them a user interface where they could just click on the products they already have. On our end we could use that information to offer them updates when stuff relevant to their setup comes available, or simply offer them some options for how to upgrade their existing set up. I'm digging it.

    I noticed the idea is no longer up on IdeaX? I think its a good one, I think you should repost. Anyhow, I'd love to get you involved with our "local social" team if you'd be up for it. We're fleshing out how we enable social tools and capability for the local stores.

  2. Login failure - Anyways - Definitely a great idea and plays into what we may want to look into utilizing our new remote support @ to do tasks such as this. We want to move beyond just computer support and help support the entire enterprise and this is the type of service that we could definitely work with.