The Harvey Experience
As an example of the extra mile in customer service, Karp related the time a man came in to return a product purchased elsewhere. Though the serial number proved otherwise, the customer insisted he purchased the product at Harvey, and therefore wanted to return it there. The store took the product anyway, and gained a new, loyal customer who bought all of his subsequent electronics there. "Our store managers and salespeople are empowered to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy," said Karp. "We are very sensitive to our clients' needs; we realize that, once in a blue moon, someone takes advantage of us, but most of the time the good will that comes from going overboard in doing the right thing for a customer pays fat dividends," Karp added.
Like an auto dealer who follows up your purchase with a phone call or free service, or the realtor who leaves a basket of fruit in your new home, Harvey stays in touch with its best customers, treating electronics like the high-end, service-oriented business it is. Karp even sends out a tin of homemade cookies to customers in a certain price tier. "I've gotten several thank you notes for the cookies."
All this service requires a superior sales and management team. Anyone can point a customer to the DVD players and let him or her make a decision alone. Harvey employees are expected to be part of the purchasing process, and that takes training. "We spend a lot of money and a lot of time on training," said Karp. The company takes advantage of the training programs provided by its vendors, frequently flying staff across the country for edu-cation sessions. At its Lindhurst office, Harvey conducts regular sales and technology training courses to establish a high level of both electronics knowledge and Harvey-style retailing skills. All employees must pass a remedial training course, and repeat the course if necessary. Store managers also go through the same training as the sales force, so they know what the salespeople are talking about.