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When your freezer handle breaks, and so does customer service

The story of my experience with Best Buy

Meet my six-week-old refrigerator. You may notice it doesn’t have a freezer door handle. Well, in all transparency, this is a totally self-serving post. It’s about an experience I’m having with Best Buy. I think it speaks to the massive gap in customer support processes at large organizations.

Here goes...

In my previous role as a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer), I did a lot of studying on optimizing customer support experiences. Just because something has always been done in a certain way, I wanted to learn the brain science behind optimizing the overall experience - not just in the case of resolving customer issues.

My big takeaway was this: When something breaks, regardless how well the situation is handled, the memory for the customer is that something broke.

With every problem a customer has that they can’t solve on their own, regardless of the outcome, their likelihood of loyalty goes down.

At the airport, agents can be incredibly helpful - but if you had to speak with one, you’ll likely remember the cancelled or delayed flight that required you to speak with the agent - not how well the agent handled the situation. If you have to call the fire department, no matter how well they handled the issue, you’ll remember the fact that you had a fire that day.

In an organization, I believe that the prioritization should always be (1) create products that don’t break, but (2) since they all do, create the most robust self-service support environment possible, and for the outliers, then (3) create incredible customer support services. And, for goodness sake, as I’ve written about previously, don’t pummel customers with “how did we do?” surveys after a problem. You’re simply reinforcing in the customer’s mind that they had a problem with you.

I’m constantly surprised with how large organizations continue to have disjointed customer support processes. After all these years. After all of the technology that can streamline the experience for the customer. After all of the ways self support approaches have been developed. It’s still broken.

Especially at Best Buy.

If you’re in the client success / customer service space, I have a story for you to use to help you sell to Best Buy. A company with all of the technology in the world is struggling to pull it all together. This is the timeline of the elusive freezer door handle.

May 13th, 2019
After a long run with our current refrigerator, we decided to invest in a new one. Upon investigating a number of websites, we settled on one at a Best Buy near our home, located in Kildeer, Illinois. I went into the store, was well taken care of, purchased a new LG refrigerator with delivery scheduled for May 17th.

May 17th, 2019
As promised, the refrigerator arrived. Due to its dimensions, the delivery guys had to take off the handles in order to get it through the door. Upon removing then reinstalling the handles, the beautiful appliance was successfully in our kitchen, ready to use. Immediately, though, my daughter noticed something strange about the freezer handle, but we figured that was just part of the design.

May 25th, 2019
Upon opening the freezer, the handle fell off. In investigating the problem, I noticed it was slightly bent, and the screw was stripped. So, I went back to my receipt, and called the number for customer care.

After a long conversation with customer care (i.e., Geek Squad), the woman I spoke to on the phone scheduled a visit for a technician for June 7th. That would allow enough time for the parts she was ordering to arrive, which would come by June 5th.

June 7th, 2019
Geek Squad guy arrives. The parts had not. I told him the story, including that we had just purchased the appliance three weeks earlier. He seem perturbed, telling me that I should have called LG directly. How would I have known that? Anyway, he sat down and unsuccessfully tried to fix the handle. He explained that when the delivery guys removed and reinstalled the handle, they did irreparable damage to it, and it needed to be replaced. He advised me to call Geek Squad again, and left...handle on the floor.

June 8th, 2019
Instead of trying to call Geek Squad again, who I apparently wasn’t supposed to call in the first place, I went back into the Best Buy. I explained the situation. Angelica and Dave were incredibly helpful, sat at length to investigate, made calls, and determined that the Geek Squad woman I spoke to on May 25th merely “recommended” the parts, and never ordered them. So Angelica ordered them. Angelica was heading out on vacation, but ensured I would be called when they arrived.

June 13th, 2019
I went into the store to check - no parts yet.

June 15th, 2019
I receive the call the parts arrived. I headed over to the store to pick them up.

June 18th, 2019
I try to install the parts, and it turns out, it’s the wrong handle. Not a match at all - as a matter of fact, the SKU printed boldly on the part was completely different than the one that had fallen off. I went back into the store. Turns out, the Geek Squad person recommended the wrong parts. After standing in the store for a lengthy period of time, a manager told me that they would make sure this is taken care of, and would call me with a resolution. They confirmed my mobile number, and I left the store.

June 20th, 2019
Nobody from the store ever called me. So, I went back in. After a bunch of back-and-forth again, I was told once again that I would be called.

June 21st, 2019
I received two calls. The first, at 10:02am, was Walter, who informed me that the correct part had been successfully ordered, and it would be in within 3-5 business days. Less than an hour later, another call, this time from a woman (I didn’t get her name), also telling me the part was successfully ordered, and that I would have it in 5-10 business days.

It’s now June 27th. I have a six-week-old refrigerator without a freezer door handle. No updates. No retribution. Nothing. I’m not sure where else to turn. I posted on a Best Buy customer service forum, but who knows who reads that.

After all we’ve been through with you, nobody thought to maybe expedite the shipment? Nobody is owning this issue? No updates at all?

The team in the store has been very nice. They’ve owned responsibility, which I appreciate. However, my memory will be that I've had at least twenty interactions regarding this situation. My memory will be that without the multiple visits to the store, we would never have this fixed.

There's clearly a better way. If you have a technology that can help Best Buy, please use this story to help tell your story. If you know anyone who can resolve my issue, I'd love that, too :)

Oh, and if I have to go back into the store to tell my story again, I’m going to lose my mind.

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