If you Google “Circuit City bankrupt”, nearly 1,290,000 entries appear. You would think that news of a companies public failure would create doubt, animosity and a general lack of caring from the folks still collecting a Circuit City paycheck. Yet, when I visited one of the remaining stores a few days ago, I had one of the best customer service experiences I have had at a big-box electronics retailer.
Here’s what happened:
Incident #1: I was looking for two specific pieces of computer gear. One I knew I had to have, the other I wasn’t sure about. I found the first one without issue, then set my sights on the other. After finding a model that looked similar to what I had seen online, I decided to ask an employee, Eddie, if it would work with my current set-up. What I got from the inquiry was an insightful follow-up question that indicated a knowledge and understanding of the product that went deeper that the product cheat sheet. Based on my answer, the advice I got was that the product I was holding would not work and I should not buy it. Eddie then gave me options for resolving my issue – none of which included me buying anything else from his store.
One could argue that Eddie cost the store a sale and some potential profits. On the other hand, I was grateful for the information Eddie gave so I didn’t buy something I couldn’t use. I trust Eddie, and I would shop there again.
Incident #2: While checking out, I approached the register with one other person in line. From behind a display, another employee motioned me over to her register where there was no one in line. She initiated some small chit-chat during the transaction, and capped the interaction with a big smile and a sincere, “Happy New Year”.
I literally walked out of the store saying to myself, “I don’t remember service like that BEFORE they went belly-up!”
Not being privy to the inner-workings of the electronics giant, I cannot vouch for what has happened behind the scenes. In doing some research (and there is plenty to go around), I did see various opinions on CC’s business practices over that last few years. Understanding that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of all the ranting, I do want to highlight something that was made public.
On Circuit City’s own website, there is an entire section dedicated to answering their customers questions regarding the bankruptcy. There is a certain sense of ‘up-front-ness’ that is refreshing, mostly because what we normally see is finger pointing and blame.
I would guess that at least at the store I went to, the management teams took this opportunity to communicate to their employees about what was going on. In my Utopian world, I picture a gathering of employees and management, openly sharing ideas, concerns and suggestions and in the end, each person is better prepared and inspired to face the challenges ahead.
As a consumer, whether that really happened or not is irrelevant. The service I experienced WAS real, and that is the memory I take away.
THAT is the true bottom line.