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Archive for October 17, 2013

Technology Enhances Mystery Shopping


Mystery shopping protocol has come a long, long way thanks to technology. In the “old days” reports were hand written, printed, and mailed to the client; now, clients can receive reports within days of a shop being completed.


On the quality control side, similar advancements have been made for the good of the industry. Two that will be highlighted include geotargeting and photo DNA.


GeoVerify: this is an excellent tool for clients who have multiple locations within a small geography (such a gas stations or convenience stores), but can be used globally to ensure that mystery shoppers were at the appropriate location on the date and time they reported.


Using cell towers and mobile phone technology, shoppers can “check in” to a location, very similar to using FourSquare, and confirm their location. In addition to receipt and business card verification, geotargeting gives an added layer of confirmation to ensure the correct location was evaluated and that the report date and time are consistent with the shopper’s whereabouts.




Photo DNA: most, if not all, shops are validated through the submission of receipts and business cards depending on the nature of the evaluation. To ensure that these documents are not photoshopped in the case of fradulent activity, or that the same business card is used for more than one shop, photo DNA is quite useful.


Essentially, each document that is uploaded is “read” for its DNA. As new documents are uploaded across the system, they are scanned to see if there are any possible matches already in the system. Users are notified via email alerts when possible matches are found so that additional investigation can be conducted.


photo dna


The more tools mystery shopping providers have at their disposal, the better the quality control within the company. The goal of a provider is to ensure that all evaluations are accurate, detailed, and useful to the company; these are two of the tools utilized when processing reports. They give the clients and providers a peace of mind when conducting such programs.



Complaint Resolution Key To Customer Service


I came across an article that talks about the top 10 errors companies make when it comes to customer service….as I read through the list, one theme was clear – customer complaints and satisfaction, and how companies can better manage this.


The takeaway from this article is quite simple: if you want to “fix” customer service errors, companies need to be aware of complaints and have a system in place to effectively handle it.


1. Be aware of complaints as they happen: effective listening can go a long way. Customers may not overtly complain, but if you’re listening carefully you can hear their dissatisfaction. Trying to resolve that will go a long way in customer service.


2. Complaint resolution: this article suggests that resolving complaints at the first point of contact is key in customer service and dissatisfied customers. If the first representative cannot resolve an issue, transferring the customer to the correct person right away is included in this category. This goes hand in hand with offering multiple channels for customers to voice their complaints and have issues resolved. A double loop resolution system can go even farther in customer satisfaction – strive to resolve customer issues on the first point of contact, and follow up with the customer at a later time to ensure their issues are resolved. This second point of contact can be important in making sure customers are satisfied with the resolution while showing them that you really care that their needs are met. It’s a win-win situation.


What considerations should you make when evaluating the customer resolution process?


1. Points of contact: which points of contact does your company offer? In addition to a phone number and perhaps a web based comment form, does your company offer online chat, mobile options, and/or social media venues dedicated to customer service? Offering a wide variety of options gives customers the opportunity to interact with you where they are most comfortable. Take a look at the different communication channels – which are used most often by your customers? Do satisfaction surveys indicate issues with any of the channels? Where can improvements be made to existing channels? In talking with customers, are there other communication channels they would like to see?


2. Consider the double loop resolution process: by following up with customers who have complaints, you can easily learn more about their experiences. It’s important to note if customers feel their issues were resolved to their satisfaction, and get their feedback on the experience. This can help you pinpoint where breakdowns occur if it happens, and how to improve the process.


3. Review complaints and look for common denominators: evaluating the complaint resolution process is key, but looking at the types of complaints is also important. Are you seeing any common themes – perhaps with product selection, delivery, or employee interaction? Common denominators can signal an area for improvement that can be rectified with additional training, adjustment to procedures, or something similar.


Demanding isn’t quite the right word, but customers are coming to expect a lot more, a lot more quickly when it comes to doing business with companies. Complaint resolution seems to be a hot spot when it comes to customer service, and making sure the proper procedures and processes are in place can go a long way in customer satisfaction.




Are We Slaves to Email?


I’ve always said that smartphones have made our lives easier….we can check in with others, with email, and other things at any time, anywhere. From a work standpoint, I’ve appreciated the ability to be able to check in with emails to see if anyone needs anything while I’m on the road or in meetings.


But, is it going too far? Are people so “turned on to technology” that work hours have been blurred? It’s possible.


A recent study was conducted by Right Management, statistics revealed that 9% of employees are contacted by their employer via email while on vacation, and another 6% are contacted via email on weekends. After hours emails seem to be a rising trend as well:


email chart



I think in part it’s a result of technology, and the other part is the nature of work – more people are working remotely and those that work from home feel tied to their work because there’s no clear distinction between work and home.


As an employee, you may feel like you have to respond to an off hours email from your boss, even though your boss may not be expecting it. As a boss, you may work off hours or want to catch up from a busy day, and get things crossed off your list, so you’re sending emails that you’re not expecting a response to, yet you may be giving off the perception that you’re expecting your staff to work when they’re not working.


With all of these factors in place, it’s a good idea to set the boundaries earlier rather than later so there are no issues, resentment, misunderstandings, or even employee burnout. Keeping the lines of communication open is important; email etiquette is no different.


How does this play into your company? How do you handle work issues/emails outside of your work hours? We’d love to hear from you!