Geeks at Home With Best Buy Test

Discussion
Aug 13, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Best Buy has been testing a program with its Geek Squad where members get to work from home helping consumers find solutions to technical issues with their personal computers over the internet rather than operating out of a store or going to customers’ homes.

The program, which has been in test for six months, currently involves about two dozen Geek Squad members. Derek Krueger, manager of operations for the new unit, told Bloomberg there are plans to add 18 more people in the next month as the company branches out into TV and home-theater support.

"We absolutely anticipate supporting complex remote controls and calibrating televisions," Mr. Krueger told Bloomberg. "As consumers become more comfortable seeing the internet as a resource for getting services, we’ll be there."

Best Buy has offered consumers remote support in the past but the test program is the first involving the Geek Squad.

"This was a necessary switch," David Schick, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co., told Bloomberg. "If you’re going to be the storehouse for technology and electronics, you’d better handle all of the service pieces yourself."

Discussion Questions: What do you think of Best Buy’s use of the Geek Squad to remotely help consumers with technical issues? Is remote service going to become more or less important in service offerings in consumer electronics? What will be the bottom-line effect?

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19 Comments on "Geeks at Home With Best Buy Test"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

Customer service is customer service, whether it is offered in-store or remotely. When an electronic gadget is not working, all the consumer wants is to have it fixed the sooner the better. If the Geek Squad can successfully work remotely, it could save money for Best Buy, as well as reduce their in-store office space and carbon footprint.

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

This is yet another smart move by Best Buy to enhance the “Geek Squad” program. It has the potential to accomplish several things at once:

1. Providing a new revenue stream, or at least a way to enhance the service plans already offered;
2. Delivering a credible alternative to electronics companies’ own phone or online-chat service providers;
3. Driving service in a cost-efficient manner.

(I’m sure other BrainTrust panelists can think of more.) Anyone who has spent time in a long phone or chat queue waiting for a computer or peripheral company’s “help” line, and has then spent an hour trying to solve a problem with a questionable outcome, would welcome this new service as an option.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

Max is right. It all depends on the customer satisfaction with the service. If it works — why not?

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

I’m surprised this is new! I thought that they already did this as part of the Geek squad. Running techs around to service the consumer market in person is inefficient and costly! Online service makes sense and it’s certainly not new in the marketplace. From the company side this should exponentially increase their service reach and revenue. From the customer side it should decrease the time it takes to get service which is huge, especially when the problem is just a minor annoyance. Hopefully, they will make sure that the waiting queue isn’t an issue. I’ve been on the phone with some help desks that either put me on hold for what seems like an eternity or they have to call me back at some inconvenient time for me. If they’re going to do it they need to look at it as a value-added service enhancement and not just a revenue enhancement that, if understaffed, will just create a bad customer service experience.

Ian Percy
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

I’ve been using a similar service called My Computer Works for a couple of years and it is far and away one of the best business-buys I’ve ever made. I’ve called for help hours before giving a major presentation and my laptop won’t cooperate, when I can’t get some new program to work, etc. They get called from anywhere for almost anything that’s gone wrong.

So if Best Buy can do this at a competitive price with competent technicians it will be a winner.

Now then – having personally just seen the light and converted to Mac – I’m hoping they’ll support the Apple brand too!

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

Remote service is not new. The hardware and software suppliers have used this approach for years. The difference here is this service has not been outsourced to India. They may speak tech, but without an accent. I think Best Buy understands you do not need to make a house call to solve every problem, nor must the customer bring the product back to the store. I have had great success with remote problem solution for personal computer problems. Where the service provider takes over control and can quickly find and fix the problem.

This is expanding to other electronic products today. No one ever got hurt by providing good service for products they sell. It keeps the customer coming back.

Bob Livingston
Guest
Bob Livingston
11 years 8 months ago

While I am a strong advocate of the highest in personal connectivity when it comes to service, this Geek Squad approach is another positive move by Best Buy to enhance their service support by doing “whatever it takes.” “Logmein” and other online capabilities used by tech support people remotely enables another person to actually take over your computer and fix what needs to be fixed, assuming it is not hardware. The Geek Squad, Twelpforce, “Walk out Working” and “Buyer Be Happy” are all individual approaches Best Buy employs to serve customers better. It’s their creativity and determination in service matters that will keep their experience fresh for customers.

Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

No brainer. A good move, and more like this will come. Just don’t have half the Geek Squad in India, please. I’ve always found the people from India to be impeccably polite, but a good part of the time I simply can’t understand them. That’s both socially awkward and unproductive.

Doug Fleener
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

What I especially like is the level of trust that Best Buy is putting in their retail employees. I could see a lot of companies insist that the work be done from the backroom of a store or remote office, but Best Buy is letting their employees do it from their home. This is something JetBlue has done successfully and I’m sure Best Buy will as well.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
11 years 8 months ago

Tell me how you get online to get the tech support when your computer isn’t working and you can’t get online?

Aside from that, I’d say Best Buy is on the right track in terms of customer service. It’s something Circuit City and others just didn’t get and they suffered the consequences. There are a lot of issues that could be solved with a phone call or in an online Q&A forum. But people, and small companies like that personal service if they’re going to pay extra for it.

Makes me wonder how long before Wal-Mart, or maybe Costco, institutes something like this. The chain is clearly going after the computer, TV and entire home entertainment market. They can’t rely on their in-store associates. Trust me, I’ve talked to them. If they can come up with a way to walk people through their tech issues, either online, in-store or by telephone, they are going to own the market.

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
11 years 8 months ago

LOVE THIS.

Not only, as we’re all saying, a great customer-service move and good for the planet, not to mention good for Best Buy’s cost structure.

I’m also sure the Geek Squad prefers it. Which will give another bump to those customer-sat numbers, beyond the immediately obvious ones like more coverage hours and faster service: Happy, engaged employees treat their customers better.

And don’t take my word for it–that’s straight from the research archives of Towers Perrin.

In fact, we should make that the business corollary of the Golden rule: Do unto your employees as you would have them do unto your customers.

Who wants to pick the shade of green?

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 8 months ago

This is an absolute home run for Best Buy on a variety of levels.

Financially, they will obviously get much improved productivity out of the Geek Squad by eliminating travel time and costs, not to mention the leverage and opportunities for improved consistency offered by consolidated centers.

More importantly, they will also get much improved customer service levels. The population is becoming increasingly dependent on the technology. As anyone (like me) who has experienced the torture of getting a resolution out of, say, Microsoft can attest, anything that shortens the time to resolution is a clear competitive advantage and tremendous selling point.

Finally, BB is definitely on the right side of the growth curve with the continuing proliferation of increasingly sophisticated consumer technology.

All in all, a big win.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

The use of remote service is not new. Flexibility in responding to consumers’ inquiries, less overhead cost in terms of space, flexibility in hours, and satisfaction of workers are all benefits. As long as the benefits are balanced with mechanisms for monitoring use of equipment, time spent working, and liability issues are managed, this is a great system.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
11 years 8 months ago

I think it’s totally in keeping with key trends.

Fuel prices will continue to rise over the long-term, making commuting to work and/or operating on-the-road service squads more costly.

Technology is making remote work seamless and indistinguishable from centralized operations.

The flexibility is also likely to have a positive impact on employee satisfaction.

If in the end, the customer is satisfied with the service, how and where it’s rendered makes no tangible difference.

Mark Price
Guest
Mark Price
11 years 8 months ago

I am impressed, as always, by Best Buy’s forward thinking about employee engagement.

One of the most important factors impacting employee loyalty is flexibility and it is very difficult to come by in a customer service environment. By enabling internet customer service, Best Buy is permitting employees to work wherever they want. So the most important benefit of this initiative will be employee commitment.

Companies with the most loyal employees have the most loyal customers.

Robert Heiblim
Guest
Robert Heiblim
11 years 8 months ago

Offering service is great. Especially, technical items are a growing need for support. It is becoming plain this is another trade. That said, just like a plumber, it is the execution rather than the availability. I am concerned that in many cases, it requires duplicating the client setup in order to solve the issue. It is not clear how this can be supported from someone’s home and so this service can backfire if the staff cannot resolve the question, give vague or general advice that does not solve, etc. This is more first-line answering–which is fine–but how does it scale? What is the escalation process?

If the Twitter experiment is an example, this will require a lot of adjustment as the Twitter project has very, very mixed results.

Bill Hanifin
Guest
11 years 8 months ago

Offering informed US based phone support to answer your electronics questions? What’s not to like?

I found value in paying for a higher level of Dell support for US based technical support and bet consumers will appreciate Best Buy’s approach here as well.

I am not aware of the pricing for Geek Squad services, but have to assume that this remote service represents a new tier in service pricing. It should be an affordable option for consumers.

I also believe that Best Buy can make better use of a flexible work force by allowing associates to work from home. Seems to me that there are multiple benefits for all constituents here.

Scott Knaul
Guest
Scott Knaul
11 years 8 months ago

Whatever works for the customer will work for Best Buy in this case. Perhaps it’s oversimplifying the case to say that if they are getting a good response then it will work. In this case why wouldn’t it work? If the customers can find the service online and make the connection then they will get the answers they need. The only question I have is if the customers are able to successfully navigate the online world to find the Geek Squad, why can’t they simply find the answers they need in the vast numbers of other free online resources?

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
11 years 8 months ago

Remote service really only works for software problems. If the customer is having a hardware problem, it will still have to be physically sent to a repair center. Its been my experience that I can fix software problems myself. So where is the value?

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