Best Buy Subscribes to Shopper Services, Should You?

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Best Buy is turning its focus to adding "services initiatives" to not only sell more product, but ease the shopper journey and build deeper customer relationships. To this end, the electronics retailer just rolled out a Geek Squad subscription service nationwide, dubbed Best Buy Total Tech Support.

Best Buy is placing its bets on growing consumer demands for technology support and interest in the gig economy, launching the service at an annual fee of $199.99. For this, members get unlimited Geek Squad technical support for their personal devices in-store, by phone, 24/7 online through chat, and through the new Best Buy Home app. Internet security software is also included on up to three devices. Members receive discounts on additional in-home services like connected home device installation, computer setup, select hardware repairs, and future purchases of most Geek Squad Protection and AppleCare service plans.

The electronics retailer piloted Total Tech Support over the past several months, helping 230,000 people set up, trouble-shoot or fix their technology more than 400,000 times.

"Now in addition to products, we also have some very exciting services initiatives focused on expanding what we sell," Best Buy chairman and CEO Hubert Joly said during the company's Q1 2018 earnings call.  "Total Tech support is a great example of Best Buy's focus on helping customers get the most out of their technology well beyond the initial purchase transaction."

"We're focused on providing services and solutions that solve real customer needs and on building deeper customer relationships"--Best Buy chairman and CEO Hubert Joly

Best Buy's buy in on shoppers needing tech support isn't a bad bet, as the number of personal tech products soars. The US market has seen substantial year-over-year growth in the number of connected homes (31% compound annual growth rate from 2015-2017), and this is expected to continue in the years to come, according to McKinsey & Company. An interesting point to note, the electronics retailer doesn't care where the products were purchased, the plan covers all technology no matter where or when a shopper purchased it.

"We believe that support should not be limited to a specific product and believe that the customer need is to have all their technology work together," said Joly. "We're launching this program nationwide at the time we hit a highest ever Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for the quality of our service delivery, setting up our members to benefit from the best Geek Squad experience we've ever delivered on all their tech."

Other retailers have subscribed to similar customer service notions, such as furniture and home goods retail IKEA, which acquired TaskRabbit, an online gig economy platform, connecting consumers with freelancers to handle small jobs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, and general handyman work.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad includes 20,000 agents who will support Total Tech Support members. Last year, the tech support team provided service more than 16 million times.

The company's in-home advisor program is also ramping up, since launching nationwide last September. At the end of Best Buy's first quarter 2018 it had 380 advisors providing free in-home consultations to help customers.

"While it is very important that the customer have a great experience in their first consultation, a goal of the program is that this initial interaction is the beginning of a deeper and more relationship-based experience with Best Buy, over the long-term," said Joly. "And we believe the program will continue to improve and mature as our advisers are in their roles longer, master what are sophisticated skills and as we further enhance the tools and systems that help them do their jobs."

Self Help

Taking into account some shoppers want to help themselves, Best Buy also just launched a new app feature "scan to compare" for customers to use their mobile phone to compare products when shopping in a store.

"Shoppers can use their app to scan the QR code of up to three products and then see the comparison of the specs and features of the products on their phone to help them research and determine which product best meets their needs," explained Joly.

Retailers and shoppers can likely expect more advances like these from Best buy, as the company said it is investing in specialty labor, enterprise customer relationship management, knowledge management capabilities, the new services platform and new digital tools for sales associates to help them be more productive.

"We're focused on providing services and solutions that solve real customer needs and on building deeper customer relationships," said Joly. "We want to provide ongoing value to our customers beyond their periodic technology product purchases to inspire them with what technology can do for them and support them to make sure all their tech is working the way they want. We are excited both by our growth momentum and opportunities and we're investing in people, technology and supply chain in support of our strategy."

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