The news that Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn left the company today created quite a stir across Wall Street and the retail sector. It may also have consumers looking forward to the days when Best Buy was the deserved sweetheart in the home electronics sector.
This is a company that, through superior service, product knowledge and overall customer experience, outlived (some may say buried) its leading rival, Circuit City.
Best Buy created entire store models to service specific kinds of customers – the affluent professional, the techie, the suburban mother or the price-conscious family man – and then trained its employees to serve these customers. It rewarded its loyalty card members with invitations to see movies before they’re released and exclusive access to special events. And its groundbreaking Twelpforce of more than 2,200 workers voluntarily answer questions tweeted by Best Buy Twitter followers.
These are all endeavors of a winning company.
But it’s been a tough couple years for Best Buy, as its giant stores struggle to retain relevance among consumer who no longer purchase CDs, DVDs and video games. And the electronics it offers are readily available online or at other giant stores, notably Walmart.
But there were also execution issues, which culminated at Christmas when Best Buy was unable to deliver products ordered on Black Friday. To make matters worse, it did not notify its customers until a handful of days before the holiday. This misstep transformed its customer service problem into a national PR blunder.
In late March, the company announced a major restructuring that included job cuts and store closings.
In its press release announcing Dunn’s resignation, Best Buy stated, “There was mutual agreement that it was time for new leadership to address the challenges that face the company.” So sudden was Dunn’s release that a new CEO has not yet been appointed; the company is being led by one of its directors as it searches for a successor.
Some believe Dunn’s departure is a sign that Best Buy will never recover. As an online customer, I hope that is not true. But it will take some vision, and customer knowledge, to return the big chain to relevancy.