Did Bad Customer Service Doom Circuit City?

Best-practices guru Joel Spolsky thinks Circuit City imploded because of their terrible customer service, not any “recession” or “macroeconomic conditions” nonsense. To prove his point, he looks at thriving New York electronics retailer B&H, which succeeds because they understand that stellar service leads to healthy profit margins.

What’s so great about B&H? Try dirt-cheap prices, uber-knowledgeable salespeople, and a sense of trust the store cultivates with its customers. Says Joel:

The most amazing thing is that I have often gone into B&H to purchase a specific product, only to be talked into something cheaper. For example, once I went in to buy a field video monitor to use for some interviews I was conducting. I expected to pay $600 until the salesperson said, “Why don’t you just get one of these cheap consumer portable DVD players? They have video inputs, they work just as well, and they’re under $100.” This was no accident. “The entire premise of our store is based upon your ability to come in, touch, feel, experiment, ask, and discuss your needs without sales pressure,” B&H’s website says.

Go visit, if you can. They’re on 9th Ave and 34th Street in New York, but don’t go on Friday because they’re closed for Shabbat.

Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives [Inc. Magazine]
(Photo: F33)

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