Best Buy is a poster boy of Outside-In, Are they done yet?

Although Best Buy gets its fair share of customer complaints online, it responds to them in a different way due to its Outside-In philosophy. Take Twelpforce. This system lets Best Buy employees see and respond to Best Buy-related issues that Twitter uses express, and over 2,500 people are taking part. The Twelpforce system brings together several groups: customer service representatives, in-store salespeople (called blueshirts), and the Geek Squad, technicians that visit homes to render technical assistance.

To see Twelpforce in action, consider this: Earlier in the year, Josh Korin purchased an iPhone and insurance plan from a Chicago Best Buy. His iPhone stopped working one day, and the store’s staff gave him a loaner BlackBerry to replace it. He didn’t want this — especially since he bought insurance — so he tweeted his disapproval. He did this on the weekend, but even so, customer service representative Coral Biegler tweeted back at him. The very next day, she had managed to find a replacement iPhone for him. From then on, Korin tweeted about how impressed he was with the service he received from Best Buy. His wife did too — and she has over 3,000 people following her on Twitter. Twelpforce grew out of Best Buy’s commitment to technological innovation from employees.

The idea was the brainchild of Gary Koelling, a member of Best Buy’s marketing group and a social-media guru. Ben Hendrington, a technology staffer in the e-commerce division, spent a week thinking about how he could harness the Google cloud computing platform to create a Twitter app to serve many employees at once. Marketing manager John Bernier was in charge of the project and successfully managed legal challenges like labor laws. The leaders at Best Buy support innovation, no matter where it originates inside the organization. CMO Barry Judge places a strong emphasis on innovations such as Twelpforce. We are nearly constantly in a half-baked mode, as for ideas, Judge states. Half-baked ideas let individuals [on the inside as well as the outside] offer you feedback. There is always an education going on in Judges department of marketing. If you’re not inquisitive, you will not last for very long in marketing, he stated. You must have some that aren’t successful to notice that.

The results of this mindset are easy to see in Best Buys marketing. One way Judge does this is posting television commercials on his blog prior to airing them. In one instance, commenters beyond the company expressed displeasure claiming a lack of sensitivity in a commercial that tells how a Blue Shirt assisted a customer in the armed forces. There was no airing of the commercial. Another innovation from Best Buy is opening the programming interfaces on its site, www.bestbuy.com, which lets other sites know about things like changes in price. The staffers in marketing made up all of these activities.
They were all risky. And they all proceeded.

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