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Friday, February 11, 2011

How The Retailer Is Training Its Customer Specialists To Deliver Business-Oriented Service

by Blaine Flamig
In an effort to better serve its business customers, Best Buy (® implemented an employee core training and testing program nearly two years ago through its Best Buy For BusinessTM division that’s specifically targeted at business customers. Since then, the program has experienced tremendous growth and popularity. We spoke with the Michael Hafertepe, the program’s project manager, about the related benefits to employees and customers.

Q Can you explain what the training entails?
A A lot of it’s based around the opportunity with the customer—knowledge and awareness of what they’re in the market for, how different solutions are there for a business customer vs. a consumer customer. We also cover commercial- grade products. So, what are the differences between a commercial-grade TV and a core consumer-grade TV? Consumer-grade laptops vs. commercial-grade laptops? What are the benefits to a business customer or a business to implement commercial-grade product into their business vs. core consumer-grade product.

Q Has the program paid off?
A Yes. Employees feel a lot more confident in asking the questions to find out if a customer is there for business or for personal reasons, or if they own a business.

Q How long is the training?
A It typically takes an employee about four to five hours to complete. There are five or six learning modules they have to go through, as well as a 50-question test. A lot of them don’t pass it the first time, so they have to go back and take it again. This program is really to establish a baseline of knowledge, and we test them against that. We purposefully make it tough so our employees can feel confident in serving the customer for their business and personal needs through the training and testing. We want our employees to have the knowledge and confidence to serve these customers with simple to complex needs that can be fulfilled in store or through our Best Buy For Business Channel and arming them with this information and training will help make a better experience for our customers.

Q What has customer response been?
A I think customers feel like they’re getting a better level of service, that their needs are being met a lot more often because the customer specialist, or the employee, is more apt to know what they’re bringing them to or what products and services to recommend to them, as well as know when to engage our BBFB direct channel when they can’t handle that sale in store and have confidence in turning that customer over to BBFB, our direct channel

Q Has the program exceeded your own expectations?
A Originally, when we put the program in place, we threw out a goal of seven to eight employees per store. We’re now seeing a lot of our stores with over 100 employees that have passed the BBFB training. This has been great to see the store associates dedication and commitment to serving business customers.

Q We understand 75% of employees have passed the training. The program is voluntary, correct?
A Yes. Some of the other department trainings are involuntary, but we made ours voluntary because we don’t have the dedicated labor in our stores— that was the main determining factor. It’s everybody’s role to serve the business customer in our stores.

Q How has the program coincided at all with the business sector’s overall growth?
A The training and testing program has made employees aware of business customers shopping in our stores. When a customer mentions that they own a business or their purchase will be used in a business the associate can speak to how Best Buy can help them. Associates are recommending Best Buy to business customers more often for their technology purchases. ▲

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