I miss Circuit City already

Or, better marriages through marketing.

If you’ve never listened to This American Life before you might want to check it out. It’s a weekly radio show based out of Chicago (very cool city, very cool bar) that I listen to via Podcast and absolutely adore. In essence, each week’s show is based around a theme (from the economy to building a better mousetrap) with three or four stories or interviews that connect to that central idea. For example, the mousetrap theme dealt with how people use or have been impacted by innovation. At any rate, since each story, or act, is somewhere around twenty minutes it works out just about perfectly for the drive home.

An episode a few weeks ago dealt with the theme of matchmaking. The story I referenced in the subtitle was about a guy in a marketing department who, along with the rest of his team, was tasked with an unusual project: marketing themselves to someone important in their lives. No kidding. They were to treat themselves as a product and find out what made their customers tick. This guy chose his wife as the customer and spent quite a bit of time figuring out what she liked, disliked, expected, etc, from the product.

I’ll forgo the details in case you want to listen to the show, but her answers were surprising. Little things that didn’t seem like much to him meant quite a bit more to her. Indicators, you might say. But the point is this: because he took the time to ask relevant questions, and he genuinely cared about the responses, he was able to take that information and become a better husband.

Best Buy should take a lesson from this kind of thinking.

I won’t go into a rant, but there are countless sites out there (here, here, and – wow – here to name a ridiculously small few) with accounts from people who have received genuinely friggin’ awful treatment from this company. And while my story isn’t on one of those sites, or really even unique for that matter, suffice it to say I’ve spent the last four months dealing with customer service so bad it, to quote a great actor in a so-so movie, “makes my ass twitch.”

So I have to wonder, given Best Buy was really, really bad before, just what are things going to be like now that their primary competitor has gone out of business? Clearly, looking out for the customer hasn’t been a priority for the organization, but until a few weeks ago there was always the danger of losing them to Circuit City if they botched it too badly. Now, given the situation, I’m guessing we’re not just going to see bad service – we’re going to get a nice big slice of apathy, as well.

But a better question to wrap things up – what would you do differently if you thought of yourself as the product and your spouse/lover/partner as the customer? How could you make you a great customer experience?

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