Last week I had the honor to chair the North American Conference on Customer Management’s Customer First conference in Anaheim, CA at Disneyland. What a treat. (You can read more about it in this week’s tip) One of the several speakers I had the honor to introduce was Robert Stephens, the founder of the Geek Squad. http://customers1st.blogspot.com/search?q=robert+stephens http://www.geeksquad.com/ I was so happy to have a chance to spend a few quiet moments with Stephen in the ballroom before the sessions began. I’ve been talking about Robert for years in my speeches and retelling a story I heard a famous speaker tell years ago. I wanted to hear Robert tell the story and add a few details. I was shocked (not to mention embarrassed) to find out that I have been ‘lying’ about the origins of the Geek Squad for years. Robert was gracious about it and shared a few moments with me before it was time to introduce him. I was thrilled to talk to him personally, so I didn’t read the printed introduction that was given to me in my chairperson pack. Up I go to the stage with my printed introduction in hand. He’s an impressive guy and so I decided to read some of his interesting credentials before adding in my personal thoughts. Right there on the paper it said, ‘In 2002, The Geek Squad acquired Best Buy and opened Geek Squad precincts in all Best Buy US and Canadian stores.’ I saw it on the page, but before opening my mouth, my mind decided this could not be so and so I said, ‘Best Buy acquired the Geek Squad’ instead, figuring it must be wrong. Nope, it was right and I was wrong. Later in the day, after I had made a personal apology to Robert, I apologized to the entire audience, explaining what I thought happened. Because it seemed so impossible to me that a midsize service company could possibly buy a ‘big box’ store, I assumed that what I saw on the page was incorrect. Talk about the old adage – when we assume it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. I’m still embarrased. Because I wondered if this was happening to others as well as me, I asked the audience how many of them thought that Best Buy had bought the Geek Squad rather than the other way around – half the audience did. It’s a great example of seeing what we want to see. When our belief system is strong it simply won’t let in information to the contrary. I am truly humbled by the experience. Robert taught us that what we need to create today is an ‘Authentic Experience’ and I’ll tell you – my embarrassment was an authentic as it gets. Yikes. Robert, I learned so many valuable lessons from you last week – the most important of which were those I learned about myself.If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi was a keynote speaker and conference chair at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!
With the North American Conference On Customer Service approaching, we would like to introduce you to the speakers we will have at our event. This year, NACCM will take place from November 16 ‘ 19, 2008 in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Hotel. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Robert Stephens. Robert Stephens is the Founder and Chief Inspector of The Geek Squad. Stephens started this business when he was a ‘starving college student’ at the University of Minnesota. While he was going around fixing things for people with his mountain bike and cell phone, he found when he went to help people, mainly with computers, service was lacking. So formed The Geek Squad, which is now a part of Best Buy. With respect to his views on Customer Service, Robert Stephens was quoted in this interview stating: ‘So my emphasis in service, which the biggest expense in pretty much any service business I can think of is human capital/labor. In service, the people are the brand. They are the factories that manufacturer it. I focus really on attracting and maintaining talent as a means of accomplishing that goal.’ To learn more about Robert Stephens read his book, The Geek Squad Guide to Solving Any Computer Glitch, and check out this interview from Service Untitled which delves more into specifics of his philosophy. Also, for more on Stephens watch the YouTube clip provided below:
We invite you to come see Robert Stephens at NACCM as he presents on Wednesday, November 19th, ‘Marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable’.