10 Things I Learned About Management at Its Best at Best Buy

Written by: Tony Mussari, Sr.
Photographs by: Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright, Mussari Loftus Associates, LTD

Statistics suggest that when customers complain… managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. Zig Ziglar

Eric McFarland is a young man with a sense of purpose and impressive management skills.  He manages the Best Buy store in Scranton, PA. He is reserved, thoughtful, diplomatic and courteous by nature.

On a beautiful August afternoon, my wife and I met Eric McFarland when we visited his store with two very big and very troubling problems.  Our three-week old Toshiba Satellite laptop had disabled two portable drives that contained all of the original materials from nine months of work on our Face of America Project.

We were returning the computer after spending hours removing all of the files from the C drive. We were tired, anxious and very fearful of what the future might bring. It was a customer’s nightmare and a store manager’s greatest fear.

On this day, the buck stopped with McFarland, and I watched him carefully as he went into overdrive to calm my fears, and give truth to the customer service culture that is at the heart of Best Buy’s success.

These are 10 things I experienced in the customer service classroom of Eric McFarland:

  1. 1. He was welcoming and very courteous;
  2. 2. He was considerate. He picked up on my apprehension and fear, and he did everything possible to lessen the stress;
  3. 3. His tone of voice and his demeanor were soothing. He spoke softly and he always made eye contact with me.
  4. 4. He listened to my story, and he listened to the recommendation of his Geek Squad employee;
  5. 5. He never tried to transfer responsibility or blame for the problem to me.  He never argued. He took responsibility;
  6. 6. He was focused on my problem and my needs.  He was not distracted by other matters;
  7. 7. He was very patient and very flexible;
  8. 8. He was proactive. He was interested in finding a solution that would make me happy and enable me to continue my work;
  9. 9. He was professional. He looked like a manager, and he acted like a manager;
  10. 10. He was respectful. He never made me or my wife feel uncomfortable in any way.
  11. Eric McFarland is the kind of person who gives managers a good name. He gave me a feeling of confidence that something would be done to help me. I got the impression that he cared about me and my problem, because he saw the problem from my point of view.

    Shari Ballard, Best Buy’s President, Americas-Enterprise EVP, believes that every Best Buy employee has an opportunity to help customers make technology what they want it to be. Ballard wants Best Buy to be a customer driven, talent powered company.

    In my opinion, Eric McFarland lives up to that expectation. During the anxious moments of my visit to Best Buy, he did something that I will never forget. To rephrase the words of the creators of Portal, he found the hole in the sky though which things can fly, and that made all the difference.

    When I think about my Face of America journey to Best Buy in Scranton, PA, and my experiences there, the words of Mary Kay Ash come to mind:

    People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.

    Thank you Best Buy for giving Eric McFarland management responsibilities.

    Until the next time, we hope that all of your stories have happy endings.

    To provide feedback, please contact us at: tmussari@gmail.com