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Tag Archive for mystery shopping

How to Deliver Superior Customer Experiences

WOW customer service

First, let’s define customer experience. In essence, customer experience is the customer’s perception of how well you live up to your brand promise. If you fail to meet the expectations you have created, then that brand promise can become your undoing. With the influence of millennials and the power of social media, customers can cause more damage to your brand than ever before.

Most businesses want to create a compelling brand promise… otherwise what’s the point of having a brand? So how do you deliver on that promise? Check out these tips for building a superior customer experiences.

Listen to your Customers

Your customers are talking, tweeting, posting and livestreaming. They’re sending information about themselves and their interests into the world. Use these conversations to make meaningful decisions that improve the customer’s experience.

Active listening is the first step. At Microsoft, their social listening software pulls in about 150 million conversations each year. After cleaning out the irrelevant data, over 5 million conversations are handled personally. Ideas, suggestions and needs from customers are processed and forwarded to development teams, to be turned into product improvements. And once a product has been updated, the company circles back with those customers, letting them know. These customers, in turn, organically advocate on behalf of the brand and market Microsoft products to their networks.

The Knock it Out of the Park Strategy

Some brands simply deliver on their brand promise so spectacularly well that the standard of customer experience can only be admired. This is the “knock it out of the park strategy”. There is no brand that embodies this strategy more than Disney. They simply go further to deliver on their brand promise than almost any other company on the planet. Their guidelines: greet and welcome every guest, make eye contact and smile, seek out guest contact, provide immediate customer recovery, and display appropriate body language and thank everyone. This strategy is the hardest to implement and may be expensive to maintain, but it is the most powerful strategy and brands that adhere to it tend to stand the test of time.

The Over Deliver Strategy

If you promise a customer something and you deliver over what you promised, that is a great customer experience. The emphasis here is going that extra mile to surprise a customer with the quality of your service or product. Take Lidl for example. Lidl is a German-owned discount supermarket chain. Their products are typically sold out of their transport packaging rather than being stacked nicely on shelves. So how does Lidl over deliver? On the quality of their own brands. The competitive pricing and brand quality result in a very positive experience.

The Create the Perception of Over Delivery Strategy

Very similar to the previous strategy, but different because the under promising is more intentional than the over delivering. There is a hint of deviousness about this strategy, but if executed well it can be very effective. The aim is to promise customers less than the company normally expects to deliver so that average performance appears to be over delivering.

The Be as Honest and Transparent as Possible Strategy

This strategy involves telling customers exactly how things are going to go before it happens. By preparing the customer ahead of time, even if they dislike a situation or experience, they aren’t as likely to spread negative feedback because they were informed upfront. This is the purest strategy in the context of managing expectations. Wagamama is a hugely successful Japanese themed casual dining out chain of the UK. When you order your food the server informs you: “Because everything is cooked fresh, your dishes may be delivered to the table separately.” If that were to happen in any other restaurant, you would be fuming. But it becomes okay because Wagamama warns you as soon as you sit down. Transparency can be hugely valuable if used properly, and this is an excellent example.

Conclusion

The key lesson here is that branding and the creation of customer expectation are enormously important. Whichever one of these strategies you choose to employ, your entire organization needs to be geared up to execute on it. It only takes one employee to ruin the experience of dozens of customers and risk getting a whole host of negative reviews.

 

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How Mystery Shopping can Improve the Customer Experience

mystery shopping

We’re all familiar with the term Mystery Shopper. So why don’t more businesses rely on them? Most companies incorporate surveys, ratings and reviews, but actually hiring mystery shoppers can reveal underlying problems affecting the customer experience. Additionally, Video Mystery Shopping is now available at a more affordable rate and is a valuable tool when evaluating the in store customer experience.

Mystery shopping is a strategy used to study the customer experience by actually interacting with a brand and evaluating it from a customer’s viewpoint. While mystery shopping used to be implemented by businesses to monitor employee behavior, it is now used to for numerous factors ranging from how friendly employees are towards guests to how long it takes for customers to be helped. These tactics are beneficial, however, there are many more other contact points to consider.

Think more Mystery Experience, less Mystery Shop

An effective mystery shopping approach needs to encompass the entire range of experiences customers might have, not just at the checkout counter. Why? Because a recent Episerver survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that 92% visited a retail website for the first time for reasons other than to make purchases. Consumers are researching products and services, looking for contact information, and even searching for inspiration.

 

An effective mystery shopping program needs to evaluate a consistent customer experience across all channels and departments, whether shopping in-store, browsing a mobile app or contacting customer service via phone.

 

The Pros and Cons of Technology

 

Rapid advancements in technology enable businesses to improve their customer experience. For example, live chats with actual employees can quickly resolve customer service questions or filter complaints. However, the employee must show empathy and put themselves in the shoes of the customer. Emotion is hard to convey via chat versus having an actual phone conversation and the businesses that thrive will empathize with their customers along every step of the way.

 

Branding, Merchandising and Customer Service Are Becoming More Meaningful

 

Customers want strong impressions from brands, and many are delivering. 44% of businesses offer unconditional free shipping, a factor that customers critically value, while only 2% of brands don’t have any free shipping promotions whatsoever.

Merchandising is also improving, with 86% of brands highlighting products with “what’s new” features, 54% using themed/seasonal promotions, and 22% offering loyalty programs.

Brands are also prioritizing excellent customer service by providing several options for shoppers to reach out. Call centers remain the most efficient way for shoppers to solve problems and ask questions, with an average engagement time of 4.60 minutes. Live chat is available at four out of 10 global brands, and 14% offer customer help through Twitter. Some brands were able to resolve customer concerns on Twitter within minutes.

Customers Want In-Store Tech, But Not All Brands Are Keeping Up

 

In-store technology gives consumers and sales associates a huge realm of flexibility and reach. With tablets, kiosks and other digital screens, associates can quickly check inventory across stores, place orders for delivery, and more.

However, 83% of store-based brands access inventory information through the register, which can be more time consuming for shoppers than using dedicated devices like tablets.

For the handful of stores that use technology (17%), only 40% of those brands used tablets and digital screens in-store.

It’s critical to integrate technology into physical locations to create seamless transitions across channels for customers. Brands that can master both digital and one-on-one interaction will give consumers greater convenience, choice and satisfaction.

 

Some brands are learning the hard way that no matter how much they invest in a better customer experience, a single mishap can have disastrous consequences. With customers more empowered than ever to share their feelings on social media, one negative experience can spark the outrage of thousands online.

 

With stakes as high as they are, no brand can risk the fallout of a poor customer experience strategy. The simple but critical fact is that good customer experience can only come from an intimate understanding of what it’s actually like to be a customer.

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Starting off Right in 2018 with Mystery Shopping


mystery shopping

The Benefits to your Business

What’s one of the big reasons Five Guys is wildly successful? They send mystery shoppers out twice a week to all locations. The brothers who run the operation also constantly visit the restaurants. High standards each and every day ensure the right employees do the right things.

Five Guys knows you need to inspect what you expect.

The number one thing business owners say is, “I just need more customers.” Wrong, you need them to return. You can’t attract your whole neighborhood to try you, deliver lousy results and expect just getting “more bodies in the door” will work.

Five Guys franchise with over 1,000 locations sees the value in nearly 50,000 shops in a year, shouldn’t you? One shop every six months is so random that it reveals little. Why? Because a mystery shop is just a moment in time. You aren’t that good if you get 100% and you aren’t that bad if you get a 50%. But over time patterns emerge that make managing your customer experience much clearer.

10 Benefits of Mystery Shops:

 

Monitored and measured service performance

Improves customer retention

Makes employees aware of what is important in

serving customers

Monitors facility conditions

Ensures product/service delivery quality.

Supports promotional programs

Allows for competitive analyses between locations

Identifies training needs and sales opportunities

Ensures positive customer relationships on the front line.

Enforces employee integrity and knowledge.

 

In order to ensure the best mystery shop feedback, make sure your questions are as detailed as possible. Your shop questions need to be black and white. The employee either did or didn’t say, “Good morning, good afternoon or good evening.” They either described a product using features (it has) with benefits (to the customer) or they didn’t. In addition, you need a narrative so compelling you can actually see the transaction in your store.

Another telling question is, “Would you be willing to drive past a competitor to return to this location based on the service you received today?”

You can try to save money by putting those surveys on your receipts and training your cashiers to “circle the web address and tell them what the prize is” but that’s not a true judge of the experience. Those who had a rotten experience will be looking for some compensation and many will quickly checkoff whatever boxes they need to qualify their entry for the prize.

Mystery Shopping Technology

Many companies now utilize geotracking to ensure mystery shoppers are going where they say they’re going, and most reports are now submitted via mobile applications, which means they receive shoppers’ feedback faster. Inputting information in an app, rather than writing it out or filling out a web form, allows the business owners who hire mystery shoppers to request very specific feedback.

Also, video and audio files of mystery shopper encounters can be stored alongside reports, which further enhance the experience of receiving feedback and gives the business owner an up-close and personal look at customer service.

 

Fighting online mystery shopper scams

 

Not all secret shopping companies are the same. Make sure your mystery shoppers are members of the industry association to assure they are reputable. Your mystery shopper should have a keen attention to detail, high standards, and most importantly, experience in the industry.

The online landscape is cluttered with scam mystery shopper companies that promise jobs to inexperienced reviewers, often in exchange for one-time registration fees. To combat these scam services and promote industry training standards for QA specialists, organizations like the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) have formed. The MSPA is a global association dedicated to creating professional standards and ethics throughout the mystery shopping industry, in addition to raising awareness among service providers and business consumers regarding best practices. The MSPA has 450 member companies worldwide and offers business owners free access to a search tool for reputable mystery shopper companies, which can be filtered by need and region.

Bottom line

Online feedback from customers is valuable, but it’s not the only way – or even the best way – to find out how your business functions when you’re not there. Professional mystery shoppers can provide you with the detailed insight you need to make better process and hiring decisions.

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