Posted by: peterhact | August 30, 2010

Harvey Norman and the Mystery Shopper

Gerry Harvey was a mystery shopper in his stores, as a part of a today tonight story. The result? many staff were exposed for bad customer service and lack of product knowledge. Now, the staff want an apology. How many clients have asked for an apology over the years that Harvey Norman has been in business? Not many at all. Do you want to know why?

The simple fact is that they voted with their feet, and never went back. This is the kind of thing that can hurt a retailer. Everyone has a war story about Harvey Norman. I know – I used to work at a Harvey Norman franchise here in Canberra. In my early days at Harvey Norman, I am certain that I left a trail of destruction behind me, through bad service, not having the best selling skills at the time, and just not listening to the clients.

That changed pretty quickly after I got some much needed advice from a client. I had yawned and he asked me if he was keeping me up. That was the catalyst where I found that I wasn’t helping people, just myself, and that isn’t the way to win any business, ever. I changed my outlook from my needs to the customer’s needs, and found that I was selling more – not always the high value and commission products, but the ones that met the client’s needs. And do you know what else I discovered? The customers came back to me. Not to complain, but to buy toner, paper, software, anything else they needed, but only if I felt that it was of benefit to them. I was their trusted adviser. They mentioned me to their friends, and asked what days I was off so that they could ensure I was there to help.

How many people can tell you about the Friday Lunchtime wasteland? not a sales person in sight, apart from one person that every customer has bailed up with their questions? (granted, that one person became pretty popular, as they usually sat high in the selling stakes for the month) How many Harvey Norman staff can tell you about the fear that they had to take leave, or be sick? back in those early days, we would come to work unless we were on our death beds.

What motivated us in those days and seems to be missing these days? Training. How many events do you see Harvey Norman staff at these days? Not many at all. How many Harvey Norman staff are trained in the Nordstrom system? How many even know what it is?

To fix the problems highlighted in the story, Gerry Harvey and his Management team needs to look back to when the franchises were new and exciting. They need to look inwards at the company and see what needs to be changed, who needs to be trained, how many people need to learn that asking for help is a good thing. His staff need to take pride in their job, their role and recognize that if Gerry Harvey says something about you, he is probably right. Get an Apology from Gerry Harvey? Possibly. but not for what he has said, more along the lines of what he hasn’t done. Bad sales people are a product of their environment, not just the individual.  Harvey Norman can be the best retailer in town, but they need to invest more money and time in making the sales team the best that training can make them.



  1. […] Harvey Norman and the Mystery Shopper August 2010 4 […]

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