Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Harvey Norman's mystery shopping
I happened to turn on Sunrise this morning and there was Gerry Harvey doing some mystery shopping - in fact, highlighting poor customer service in his own Harvey Norman stores. While some might say he's taken leave of his senses, it suggested a level of transparency and bravery that most retailers wouldn't dare to match. It was also quite amusing to see Gerry Harvey with a prosthetic nose and to witness the responses from his sales staff to the "customer's" queries, such as "Well they're all for sale".
In order to solve a problem, you first have to acknowledge it exists. This was a public act of recognition of bad customer service with an implicit promise that things would change. And on Today Tonight this evening, Gerry Harvey will be giving his shopping tips for getting the best price.
We talk about "branded utility" - brands providing some useful tool or service to consumers. It's normally used in the context of the digital or social media space, for example, the Nike + training system that lets runners record and share their running data. But Harvey equally displays branded utility - he's championing a consumer cause of better customer service and sharing a useful skill of negotiation.