LEAKS: Best Buy's Internal Customer Profiling Document

Attention Profiled Shoppers: Consumerist is now in possession of an internal training document that teaches Best Buy blue shirts how to stereotype customers. While Best Buy’s use of personas has been known for several years, our exclusively obtained document contains several brand-new Best Buy personas, including “Maria Middle America” and “Empty Nesters” Helen and Charlie.

Why do customers need to be stereotyped, you ask? Because some customers are good, and others are bad, and Best Buy employees need to know which ones are which.

Back in 2004, the Wall Street Journal announced that Best Buy had a new customer service strategy. The meat and potatoes of the new strategy was this: Best Buy would concentrate on outwitting pesky bargain-hunters (now known as “demons”)and cater only to its most profitable customers, or “angels.” This new philosophy was based on the work of Larry Selden, a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and consultant to Best Buy.

Larry is all about the customer. He hates products, “…the obsessive focus on products needs to be replaced by an even more obsessive focus on the customer,” he says.

One might assume that with this customer-obsessed guy directing Best Buy’s strategy, there’d be an emphasis on customer service. Not so.

In fact, the first thing Best Buy did after adopting Selden’s method was amend their return policy to include a 15% restocking fee. Too many “demon” customers were returning things.

The most important part this new world order is the “persona.” Personas are essentially stereotypes that Best Buy’s salespeople study in order to sell their most profitable services to different “types” of customers. Young urban males are called “Buzz.” Upper middle class women are known as “Jill.”

Each persona comes with a customized sales approach. Jill wants Best Buy to “help me find and fuel my new passions so I can remain true to myself,” whereas upscale suburban Barry wants “premium brands presented as a total solution.”

And what happens to those bargain-hunting demons? Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson told the Wall Street Journal in 2004 “that Best Buy will first try to turn its bad customers into profitable ones by inducing them to buy warranties or more profitable services.”

“In most cases, customers wouldn’t recognize the options we’ve tried so far,” he said. Maybe this new document (which adds several new categories to the known Best Buy persona universe) can help.

Meet Carrie (Young Urban Female), Maria (Middle American Female), and (Empty Nesters) Helen and Charlie!

Click on the pictures below to bring up the slides. navigate using arrows that appear (when moused over) at the left, top and right of the slide, or using the “previous” “next” and “gallery” links at the bottom.

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