How Poor Customer Service Sank Sears & Best Buy

A recent article by James Cowan in beautifully outlines the real reasons that Sears & Best Buy are laying off employees and closing stores. He writes:

“…shopping at a Best Buy, or one of the company’s Future Shop locations, is most often an exercise in annoyance rather than respect. Customers complain that sales staff were difficult to find and unknowledgeable or pushy when they did materialize. Sears suffered similar problems; in some locations, you are more likely to spot a Yeti than a sales associate…”

The one that saddens me the most, I think, is Sears – a company that used to have a rich tradition of customer service. Now, not only can you not find sales staff, the ones you can find have no apparent training or directionin either customer service or selling skills.
If I were CEO of Sears, I would take one store – just one – and conduct the following experiment:

  1. Triple the staff
  2. Train them extensively with world class customer service skills
  3. Train the managers how to support their staff, and maintain non-negotiable service standards
  4. Measure, inspect and provide real-time feedback so employees can really rock it.
  5. Compare the month-over-month profitability of that one store with that of the others.

I guarantee the payoff would be there.

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