To read the first round of this debate click here.
As of this morning Harvey Norman is out of the retailer coalition propaganda campaign for 10% GST tax on purchases from overseas websites. It seems that the backlash of consumers on twitter and facebook has won this round.
It’s a good decision. Harvey shouldn’t be the only one taking the fall. It’s now time to calculate the damage done.
The damage to the Harvey Norman brand should not be taken lightly. The trust in the brand took a significant hit that will take a lot of time to recover from. Google ranking will suffer and all the goodwill in social media destroyed as the only thing left are negative comments. Add to this the emergence of groups like “boycott harvey norman” on facebook, new and unflattering search terms like: “Harvey Norman GST”, the impact on franchisees and employees moral and lets not forget the #GerryAntoinette hashtag.
What’s next? well, it’s time to plan. This needs to be an overhaul of all customer facing touch points including customer service, store personal and social media. the first step in this planning phase should be “Listen & Learn”.
Here’s why Harvey Norman needs to listen & learn: the backlash was not about the 10% tax. No one really cares about it. If you take the time to listen to your customers you’ll find that many expressed outrage about your customer service, pricing and warranties.
A few things made clear to Australian businesses from this “Social Media” case study:
1. You have to treat your customers with respect. This is something that I believe is Harvey’s sticking point. They forgot that the people they are talking about are the same people who pay staff salaries by buying at Harvey Norman. They’re also the ones who invest in the business as shareholders.
2. Twitter and facebook are not an add-ons to your marketing mix. Social media is just the tip of the iceberg – It will affect every department of your business. It will also change the way you do business. That’s why you need a Social business Strategy.
3. ”You might have got a nasty phone call or a letter back in the old days but now anything slightly controversial, these people, whoever they might be, they go for you zealously and with hatred all over Twitter,” – Yes, the world has changed. You need to change with it. Be prepared to be more transparent, collaborative and intuative.
Good luck Harvey.