In this exclusive Insider Q&A, DAC caught up with Mat Povse, Senior Vice President of Retail and Geek Squad Services at Best Buy Canada to discuss how creating positive work cultures can empower a brand and create stronger connections and experiences for customers.
Povse is responsible for overseeing employee and customer experience, sales, and profits for over 180 retail stores across Canada, as well as developing the fulfillment processes of Geek Squad programs and services.
His one-team mentality, combined with his broad work experience, inspires collaboration between different business functions leading to increased productivity and sales. His development of new and innovative partnerships and the integration of services and retail have enhanced Best Buy’s omnichannel approach and set foundations for future growth.
Prior to Best Buy, Povse was Vice President of Sales for LG Electronics and has also held key positions at Compaq, TELUS, and XM Satellite Radio.
DAC: When you think about what makes a company strong, thoughts like revenue, innovation, brand recognition, and sustainability come to mind. What role does humility play in the success of a company?
MP: I like to remind myself and others that a company is simply an organized group of people and as such, it’s the strength of those people that matters above all else. When a company is experiencing success, it is driven by people and when times are tougher, teams pull together to turn things around.
Innovation is often facilitated by technology, but ideas come from humans. To me, people bring a brand to life, so brand health is reliant on the people that believe in that brand. As for revenue, the old saying that if you look after your people, they look after the customers and that looks after shareholders’ interests is repeated often, because it’s true.
DAC: Customers are becoming more demanding and technology dependent. As a retailer, why is human connection important for customer engagement?
MP: Humans have a way of connecting with other humans that technology cannot replace. We believe technology should and can enrich the lives of people. That drives our product selection and how we approach ecommerce and our IT infrastructure. Behind all our technology—that we use and sell—is humans. We are all customers too and we are working on providing the best customer and user experience that we can, because we would appreciate the same.
DAC: Is it easy for marketers to overlook the value of the human connection?
MP: I think so and if marketers aren’t making a human connection, then who are they talking to? For us, that connection can be an in-person experience via our stores, events or through our in-home services, or a digital experience that feels like it was built for humans.
Either way, we seek to connect with our customers in a more personal way. A more connected world helps us reach our customers with products that they care about, in a location that suits them, but Best Buy believes in developing long-term relationships with customers and in doing so we know that real-life human interaction is an inevitable—and beneficial—part of that journey.
DAC: There is no denying the power of humility in the workplace. How can brands adopt humility in their engagement strategies to create better customer experiences?
MP: First, by recognizing, without a doubt, that humility is a strength—not a weakness. Built into our culture is the notion of forever improving—as good as we are, we can always be better and it’s fun to keep at it. Of course, we love it when we receive positive affirmation from our customers, but we also appreciate that negative feedback is a gift that can help us get better. We encourage our teams to question everything and speak up when something doesn’t make sense. We create opportunities through forums and hackathons to empower everyone to have a voice and drive positive change.
DAC: What key strategies is your team leveraging to keep a focus on customer experience?
MP: We have an internal saying “Belong here, be you here.” Since our customer base is diverse in every way, we try to hire people from a variety of backgrounds, with different experiences to provide diversity of thought. That way we keep a focus on how customers’ needs also vary and can adjust the way we serve them. Then we set out to create real life feelings, spaces, and desirable feel-good outcomes that drive the business results. We don’t just tell people to get results.
DAC: Is there a fine line between employee engagement and customer experience?
MP: Engaged employees stand behind one vision and drive a business forward as a team. Productivity can be obtained in many ways, but I don’t believe there is anything more sustainable or successful than the power of a positive outlook applied through teamwork.
DAC: What are some ways Best Buy is embracing brand humility?
MP: In our retail and services teams, our strategy is driven by five main pillars that encompass brand humility. We are focused on doing all that we can to create a great place to work, the best way to serve those that choose to shop with us, the best solutions for each unique customer, continuously improving and investing back into our community. We’ve cut out the business jargon in describing our pillars and instead embraced everyday language that resonates with us. This simplicity makes it much easier to understand and get behind. We know we’re not perfect, but we try to be as good as we can be.
DAC: Do you have any key lessons that you have learned from the field that has shaped your customer and employee engagement efforts?
MP: The best lesson I’ve learned is to stay connected with our people in the field and really listen to the insight that our frontline team provides. I really enjoy visiting stores (I spent much of Black Friday weekend in stores with my son), but last year I embarked on a coast-to-coast store visit where I put on the uniform, rolled up my sleeves and completed real shifts.
Hearing or seeing things is one thing but feeling real life experiences with your wits and senses, and problem-solving in real-time with those that do this every day provides an extra perspective that can be profoundly impactful.
DAC: As Best Buy continues to place an emphasis on creating genuine connections with customers, are there other brands you look to for inspiration?
MP: Where do I start? There’s no shortage of brands to admire and some I’d avoid. I like to look out of retail to other industries. There is a lot to learn from the entertainment industry in how to engage people. The hospitality industry has many examples of exemplary customer service.
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