Best Buy’s better-known Geek Squad deploys agents to help customers with repairs and installations. The advisors act as, in Best Buy’s language, personal chief technology officers, helping people make their homes smart or merely more functional. Some in this group worked on the Geek Squad, some as retail staff, a few were lured back to Best Buy, and at least one was employed by companies that Best Buy put out of business. They’ve already learned about the devices and appliances they can offer: TVs, sound systems, refrigerators, washing machines, security cameras, doorbells, garage doors, and smoke alarms, as well as Amazon Echo and Google Home and Apple HomePod, and smart shades and lighting and thermostats.
“Everyone thought we were going to die”
They’re supposed to establish long-term relationships with their customers rather than chase one-time transactions. They won’t need to anxiously track weekly metrics and, unlike the Geek Squad and blue shirts working in stores, they’ll be paid an annual salary instead of an hourly wage. Their house calls are free and can last as long as 90 minutes.
Best Buy, the last national electronics chain, is counting on these advisors to distinguish it from Amazon.com Inc., the company’s competitor, partner, and would-be vanquisher. With more than 1,000 big-box stores in North America and about 125,000 employees, Best Buy was supposed to have succumbed to the inevitable.
Those years were about getting people into Best Buy stores and onto its website; Best Buy’s future will be about getting its people into homes. Joly, who made a surprise visit to talk with the trainees, explains the importance of this strategy: “That lets you have a real conversation. You can talk about what’s possible, be human, make it real.”