Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber shares her successful marketing strategies.

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Lifestyle Marketing: Apple Stores vs Best Buy

There is a very simple way to earn my dollars and loyalty as a customer - simplify my life and I'll be a customer for life. With as hectic and time challenged as we all are, our time is one of our most precious commodities and something I don't like to waste. Helping to make my life easier and less complicated is what a great Lifestylist, marketing program or customer service department should be all about. To show this, I want to talk about two competitors and how they handle the customer experience.
Best Buy has spent a fortune advertising how they understand the customer and their lifestyles, and they are there for us to help us make the right decisions in our electronics buying dilemmas. They started their "Geek Squad" which is supposed to help customers in their homes or online - for a fee of course. To be honest I had stopped buying at Best Buy because of their sales teams lack of knowledge, and every time I went in and needed help there never was anyone in sight to help. But my grandkids were coming to visit and my television projector that I had bought through NewEgg and have had for years died. I ordered a newer model online and when I received it found out it was a projector, but couldn't be used with cable. Called them, they were wonderful and immediately issued a refund and a call tag so I could ship it back. This didn't leave me with enough time to replace before my company got here so went to my local Best Buy to see what they had. After looking at them and trying to decipher what my options were I made a decision and of course - it was mis-marked and the price was actually $200.00 more than the tag said. They wouldn't honor the price shown, but again I was time challenged so went ahead and bought it. By this time I was working with the manager trying to get them to honor the price, no luck on that but he did talk me into the extended warranty which included one bulb replacement which I knew was an issue. Bought it, got it home in time to hook it up, all was well with the world.
Fast forward 7 months, and the bulb is going out. I call the number on my warranty policy and was given to the parts department after 4 attempts to get connected to the right department, and they didn't have and couldn't get a bulb for my model. The warranty is supposed to be "repair or replace" so they try and connect me to customer service where I get disconnected 3 times. At this point we are going on over 2 hours on the phone trying to get this resolved, and remember I was looking for a way to simplify my life. When I finally ask for and talk to a manager... wait for this... they tell me I have to find a place to buy the bulb, pay for it and install it myself, then send them the receipt and they will reimburse me! The only other thing they would do is I have to take the unit into the store, they will ship it off, then they will try to find a bulb, and it could take up to three weeks. Even though they know the part number they won't look for it until I send the unit to them. Best Buy, and Kevin, Mary, and Daniel who totally wasted my time on a beautiful Saturday - you failed me and every other customer who walks through you doors.
Now let's look at the Apple Stores. If you have never visited one you need to - I just can't say enough good things about them. The people who work their are obviously treated well and love their jobs because they couldn't be nicer, and more helpful. My favorite example is when I was in there having a lesson the other day a gentleman rushed in and asked one of the sales guys for help. Said was from out of town, had an iphone that he hadn't even purchased from Apple and it had crashed. Oh - and the store was packed like it always is. The  sales person said not a problem, leave it with us for 10 minutes or so and we'll see what we can do. The customer came back, the phone was fixed, no charge to customer and Apple picked up another Customer for life. Apple is there to simplify your life, and they sure have been able to do that for me. I have the confidence to know that when I buy from Apple I'll have a team of geniuses ready to help me succeed in my marketing and life tasks.
It really doesn't have to be that hard - if you show that you truly care about your customers it will show. Not once did I get a "sorry you are being disconnected", "let us try to find that for you", nothing from Best Buy. They took my money and ran.
The great lesson for me and if there is a silver lesson in all of this it's that everything should start and end with the customer. I do appreciate the customers that support Lifestylist Design and I consider them a critical part of our success. I know Apple understands this as well which is why if it's a product I can't buy from Apple, I'll be buying online and not from a company (Best Buy) that doesn't appreciate my business.

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