Consumer watchdog Choice unleashed its mystery shoppers upon the top 10 retailers in OZ. So, who did well?
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Harvey Norman came out worst for customer service in the Choice survey of 10 big retail names at various Sydney store locations.
Among the faults noted by the mystery shoppers who entered Harvey Stores included:
“Poor customer engagement; inconsistent product knowledge; some evidence of pushy sales tactics; does not accept ‘change of mind’ returns.”
In fact, the shoppers had hardly any positives to report from their store experience.
Consumer favourite JB Hi-Fi got a pat on the back from Choice for its “excellent product knowledge and customer service,” although noted it does not accept “change of mind” returns.
Choice surveyed 10 retailers including: Big W, David Jones, Dick Smith, The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Kmart, Myer and Target.
The Good Guys had ‘good customer service’ as did Dick Smith, but former got a slap on the wrists for staff having inconsistent product knowledge.
Woolies-owned Big W came out smelling of roses, with “simple, fast and no-fuss returns process; helpful staff” as did discount store Target: “good staff engagement but had to be approached first; fast checkout process.”
This customer service survey comes at a time when retailers are struggling to keep their heads above water as online shopping becomes more and more prevalent.
However, what was notable in the research was for every store that was reported as having “good customer service,” most had incidences where Choice mystery shoppers found staff had poor product knowledge, including Myer and David Jones, meaning retailers need to up their staff training and education.
Retailers have plenty more work to do to get their service in ship shape, Choice warned.
“When it comes to the retail landscape, the experts Choice spoke to say the in-store experience can still go a long way to developing customer loyalty and therefore spending.”
However, Harvey Norman Chairman Gerry Harvey is in denial about the independent consumer watchdogs findings, saying Harvey’s service is “fantastic.”
“The level of feedback we’re getting shows that our level of service is fantastic,” Gerry Harvey told Fairfax yesterday.
However, he did admit some cracks in his franchisees service offering: ”I admit that it’s probably not fantastic in every store, all of the time, and I don’t think any retailer could claim that. But we do devote a lot [of] time to service.”
Get the full lowdown on 10 retailers here:
SmartHouse contacted several retailers for their reaction to the survey and are awaiting reply.
“Retailers may not want to hear the feedback but they would be silly not to” says Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just.
“Good customer service is the one competitive point of difference retailers have over rivals, so they should milk it” especially in the current highly competitive environment.
So what advice does Choice have for retailers?
“The No. 1 most important thing is customer service, so staff training to ensure consistency across all employees and stores is vital.” It is also important to develop product knowledge, Just adds.
“The ‘patchy’ feedback we recieved from our shoppers would not encourage repeat business.”