A couple weeks back I stopped by Best Buy to purchase a new lens. The clerk who helped me was nice, but powerless: while the lens was on display, I wouldn't be able to actually try it out in the store. For one thing, all the lenses were locked to the camera bodies, and for another, all the camera batteries were dead. I told the clerk I would go ahead and buy the lens, but then I muttered something customer experience and talking to his manager.
I doubt the clerk understood what I was talking about, so here is my criticism, in detail.
For nearly everything I buy today, I first turn to Amazon. The prices are reasonable, the ordering process streamlined (1 click, baby!) and the customer service quite solid.
However, for certain expensive electronics, I've found a better option: buying them at the local Best Buy. Best Buy price matches Amazon without a fuss, and being able to pick up the item versus wait a few days is a nice bonus. Best Buy has a free rewards program that earns me back a few bucks on big purchase, which I can in turn, put forward toward my next tech splurge. Best of all is the return policy: I can easily walk into a Best Buy and return anything, versus having to repackage and potentially pay for shipping.
For something like a Canon EOS Lens, Best Buy was the ideal solution.
But the camera setup at Best Buy is clearly lacking. How on Earth can then expect to sell expensive tech like cameras without allowing folks to actually use them? That's like trying to sell TVs without allowing folks to turn them on. The obvious answer is, they don't really care about selling DSLRs. And that's OK; that's their prerogative.
However, Best Buy should know that it's earning my business because of their actions, and it's these same actions that can lose it. All it wouldn't take is for a photography obsessed clerk at Staples, two doors down, to go to his manager and push for a better photography setup. She would explain that not only should we have functioning cameras customers can experiment with, but we should have a short term rental program. Want to try out this $9,000 500mm lens? Sure, let us take your driver's license and here, have a good time. The process works for car dealers, so why can't it work for camera sales?
Oh sure, the process would take effort. And it may not earn a whole lot of new business. But I'd be there. And my days of stopping by Best Buy to pick something up would be over.
It's fine when a business choses not to offer a service or particular experience. Where things fail is in the blind spots: when a business doesn't even realize they're offering a cruddy service or experience. Choices are good, blind spots are bad.
Update: After hitting publish on this post, I figured I'd hit BestBuy.com and drop them a Contact Us message with this link. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any intelligent way to leave this feedback. Alas, this seems typical for a big company on web. Perhaps another blind spot?