The rise of mystery shopping

Mystery shopping; for the seasoned shopped, the profession may seem to been around for an exceedingly fair amount of time.

Yet, the mention of mystery shopping in casual conversion could raise a few eyebrows as the majority of the public is unaware of any mystery shopping companies that do exist.

We’re delving deep into history to find some of the earliest signs of mystery shopping.

During the 1940s, a research company named WilMark decided to hire private investigators to visit retail shops and banks undercover to spot any internal theft. The practice proved successful and from then on WilMarks’ client base grew and they announced the service as mystery shopping.

The ’50s was the time of the World War II recovery leading to mystery shopping falling behind in popularity, however, the service remained available on a smaller scale.

Throughout the ’60s and ’70s mystery shopping bloomed. With the influx of entrepreneurs paired with the thirst of controlling the bottom line, businesses had to compete against other companies. Thus they sought ways to remain profitable and ahead of their competitors which is where mystery shopping came to rise again, enabling businesses to measure the competitions’ strengths and weaknesses and locate which areas of their brand needed improvement.

The ’80s saw mystery shopping companies becoming more widespread, although it wasn’t the same story at the beginning of the decade. Fax machines were sparse which meant that reports and shoppers’ receipts were would have been sent back and forth between through the USPS, along with payment checks. Many of the assignments’ details were given over the phone which lead to a number of instances of miscommunication.

Today, mystery shopping has increased in popularity and continues to flourish with businesses choosing to investigate the work performance of their employees, as well as research into another companies’ strategy. The internet proves a great platform to access and submit reports online and receive paid transactions online.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a mystery shopper? Check out our mystery shopping criteria here!

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Film your shopping experience!

Video mystery shopping isn’t all that different to regular mystery shopping, the only difference is that it is filmed.

Video Mystery Shopping

Like mystery shopping, video mystery shopping is incredibly effective for management to get the whole consumer experience. It can also be utilised for any coaching, monitoring or training that needs to be done.

How is video mystery shopping conducted?

The shopper will need a button or pinhole video camera that has a microphone built in and a recorded that has a Secure Digital (SD) card. It would then replace a button on the person’s clothing, preferably a dark coloured shirt or blouse that can easily hide a camera.

There is a possibility you may need to fiddle with the camera beforehand to find a suitable, comfortable position for the camera to sit in and stay in.

Once you arrive at your destination to carry out a video shop, turn on the camera and ensure it’s recording, then state your name, the time and date, and the location for your records before leaving your car, or in a private place. After completing your shop, do not turn off the camera until you are in the car, or, again, in a private place.

Following this, upload the video to the specified location as allocated by the company you are working for.

Retail Maxim can provide you with the latest digital recording equipment to ensure that the highest quality visual and audio feedback is received.

Visit our website for further information about our video mystery shopping service!

Advantages of becoming a mystery shopper

Mystery shopping brings about plenty advantages for a business to view how their customer experience is.

However, mystery shopping has advantages to the shopper also. How, you ask? Continue reading to find out.

Becoming a mystery shopper is a brilliant way to earn money for those that enjoy shopping, have good attention to detail, memory and are sociable. Your job will be to go instore and shop, possibly ask questions a regular customer would ask employees and then write a report of your experience.

Among the benefits are the hours you work which can be quite flexible. Many mystery shoppers are able to work the hours which are convenient with them due to the jobs being varied. There is also the option that mystery shoppers do not have to take on a job they feel isn’t suitable for them, although it is good to keep in mind that the more jobs you accept, the superior the choice of assignments will be available to you in the future.

Again, the most attractive advantages of becoming a mystery shopper is being paid for doing something that you would regularly do. It can be an incredibly fun role. You may be asked to visit cafes, banks and retail stores. It’s beneficial for the prospective mystery shopper to include areas of interest when registering along with any particular products or service they would prefer not to try which will aid the company to match assignments appropriate to you.

Your participation in becoming a mystery shopper is advantageous to the business you are visiting to improve their services to customers overall. It is satisfying to know that you have helped make a difference, to those services that you use often too.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a part of the Retail Maxim Mystery Shopping team? You can view the criteria here!

Please visit the website for further information about mystery shopping jobs.

What mystery shoppers can tell you about your business

Wondering what the experience is liking a customer who is visiting your business is difficult as being a business owner means your staff will be well-behaved when you are around. But what about when you aren’t?

One of the ways to find out how the average customer experiences the services your business provides is through hiring a mystery shopper.

Mystery shoppers are normal people who will visit your business to use your services and/or purchase a product. Upon their visit they will be making observations about the friendliness of your staff and the experience they offer the average customer, the cleanliness of your facilities and how easy it was to get their request attended to, they will proceed to make a report of their findings. It is essentially one of the best ways to view your business through the eyes of the customer.

Below we’ve listed a few of the things mystery shoppers can tell you about your business:

Employee customer service skills

One of the first things mystery shoppers will help you evaluate is the customer service that is provided by your employees and the skills they have. They will make note of how your employees greet them and if the staff are attentive and friendly. The reason your employees customer service skills are of high importance is because they are a face to face representation of your brand.

Efficiency of processes

There may be a business that as recently acquired a new point of sale that is believed to be the appropriate tool for the job. Yet an employee uses it to ring up a purchase a client has made and the machine doesn’t work which could lead to be a time consuming process to sort out; your customer may be getting impatient. A mystery shopper will relay what the experience for the customer is like letting you know whether any systems need to be updated.

What you don’t know

Another benefit of hiring a mystery shopper is the fact they will tell you what most customers will not. There is a high percentage of customers that will not say if they are unhappy with a product or service; they’ll take the easy way out and seek elsewhere. Although, they don’t tell you if they are unhappy with something in particular, the percentage is equally as high that they’ll tell other people, friends and family, essentially leaving a negative review.

First impressions

Mystery shoppers can walk into any store for the first time and notice things that may have been overlooked or ignored by you or employees. They will provide you with a detailed description of their first visit, their impression and right any flaws in the store.

Keep in mind that these are only a few things that mystery shoppers can tell you about your business in order to keep you updated about the service you are providing.

Please visit our website for further information about mystery shopping and our services.

Using mystery shopping to improve your business

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve their customer service.

For a business to grow and excel in customer satisfaction, it is important to measure the customer buying experience in an objective manner.

Key elements to success

Mystery shopping is something that allows businesses to acquire feedback on their service from the perspective of the customer. It’s a handy tool that can evaluate the performance of a work team’s customer care, their performance level, training budgets and company mission statements delivery to the core customer sector.

Analyse competitors

Mystery shopping can be utilised for analysing your competitors as potential buyers, essential for well-established companies. Mystery shopping also allows you to gain better knowledge of your competitors, along with their pricing structure and their U.S.P.
It is possible to identify a niche market that may not be occupied by any of your competitors.

Review internal processes and procedures

You will be able to view your customer’s buying experience and the services can offer you the help of documenting a step by step process of purchasing your business’s services and/or products.
It also enables you to detect any issues and make changes to your customer care charter for the benefit of your customers.

Evaluate workers

While mystery shopping is mainly beneficial for customer service, it can also be used as a training aid for your employees. It will expose their professionalism, helpfulness, integrity and knowledge of the business during the buying process.
Customers are not only purchasing your services, they are also purchasing your team and credibility.

Mystery shopping is effective at analysing and evaluating your business’s approach to customers.

Retail Maxim is a mystery shopping company having mystery shopping jobs available across the country.

Is mystery shopping a real job?

It is likely that you are aware of mystery shopping, however, many do no know how mystery shopping is keeping costs in check for the average consumer.

Mystery Shopping Jobs
Mystery shopping is keeping costs in check for the average consumer

Branding

A common task that is assigned to mystery shoppers is checking for brand integration. Seen more frequently in businesses that have had a change in ownership.

The idea is for feedback from the shopper will give the chain owners a sense of how the brand’s identity is translating at the customer’s level. This is a way of saving money as it ensures you are getting what you pay for, as an example, you should not be paying the price of a four-star hotel room that displays the branding of a three-star chain.

Customer service

Recently, businesses have started to pay attention to how they treat their customers.
Companies that use mystery shoppers to audit customer care will benefit from that information to tweak their processes so to be more customer friendly, thus, gaining that extra expenditure of 13% consumers are willing to spend because they received great customer service.

The bottom line

Mystery is shopping is much more than the perks of gaining free food and getting paid for shopping.
It’s a tough role as shoppers will need to a detailed eye and note down everything about their experience, the description filling pages – all of this documentation is for the store owners to use for process improvements.
As long as there is a variety of choice in the places to shop, you ultimately can spend the money how you see fit.
Mystery shoppers grant you to stretch the pound by slimming the possible risk any bad experience could happen in the beginning.

Please visit our mystery shopping jobs page if you think you have what it takes to become a mystery shopper, or if you’d like to know more about the role.

Retail Maxim is a mystery shopping company.

Tips for successful customer support

Mystery shopping is all about satisfying the customer, as their satisfaction is the key component for the success of a business.

Customers are expectant of quick, efficient service; they expect not to be put on hold and will look towards social media to add a complaint or ask a question.

Below, we’ve listed a selection of tips to ensure that your customer service is of the highest standards online:

Deal with common questions

FAQs (frequently asked questions) are a brilliant way of reducing the amount of repetitive questions that are asked, by featuring a well thought-out FAQ on your website, customers will be able to see that their query may have been answered.
Include warranty information, video clips, return and exchange policies and anything you thing customers may find useful from your company; it gives a sense of being ahead of the game.

Instant responses

Automatic responses stating that someone will be replying to a query 24 – 48 hours later is unacceptable, your customers will have sought out service elsewhere by then.
Deter from automated responses and implement a policy somewhere that you will strive to get back to queries within so many hours or as quick as possible.

Speedy on social media

A majority of customer will look to social media to ask questions or complain, and because of platform not being an official means of branding for your business (more for advertisements etc.) you should be able to reply quickly, without solving the question at the present time, but assuring them you are there and have heard their request.

Privacy

A customer’s privacy should be of utmost importance, do not, under any circumstances, ask for a customer’s personal bank details.
This information will not only put them at risk, but your business is likely to make customers feel uncomfortable and they will lose trust in your brand.

Careful of jargon

Ensure that your customer service representatives understand that not every customer they come into contact with will understand the common jargon used in your area of industry.
Use clear replies and be direct when answering questions – too much detail can be confusing.

Be calm

Customer support teams will need to have thick skin to be able to deal with angry customers, it’s not professional to shout at customers who are shouting at you.
By being calm and handling the situation with apologies, it should lower the temper of the customer.

For more information on customer service tips, or our services we offer, please visit our website!

3 common manager mistakes

Three COMMON MANAGER MISTAKES… AND HOW TO AVOID THEM IN 2015!

As managers lead their teams and projects, they strive for improvement in each aspect of their work.  Specifically, the most effective improvement opportunities likely exist with how managers manage their employees- individually and as a collective team.

Here are tips on how to avoid the 3 most common mistakes that managers make with their employees – and, how they can work to avoid these mistakes in 2015.

1) Ask employees for their feedback and then don’t do anything about it

It is admirable to ask employees for feedback- especially if you are truly planning on considering using it for positive change.  Employees long to be relevant- they long to be an integral part of the organization and often have ideas and experience that they happily will share and that when implemented will make significant improvements.  If you are asking your employees to put the time and effort into providing feedback- either formal or casual, it is imperative that that feedback is given the respect that it deserves.  Communicate back to the employee (s) what was done with their feedback and what changes, if any, are implemented as a result.

2) Remember to coach employees

Measuring performance – through the use of mystery shopping, customer surveys or observations provides a basis for organisational improvement.  It’s what you do with this information that will make the difference in whether the work was worth the effort.  Once data is collected, be sure to provide timely feedback and coaching to your employees.  Immediate feedback is essential to shaping behavior.  Note areas of success (what was great!) and opportunity (where did we fall short?) to provide praise and tips or examples on how to deliver on performance expectations.

3) Don’t expect results from your team without understanding your own management style

Open, honest, timely communication goes a long way in establishing trusting, healthy work relationships and results.  How can we improve our communication and effectiveness? Start with understanding yourself, what you prioritise, and why you behave, react, or think the way you do, then, seek the same out in your employees.  Learn what drives their behaviours and what they prioritise. This will allow you to better communicate with your employees by not only being aware of your similarities and differences, but also acting on them.

Taking on all three of these at once may be a bit overwhelming.  Instead choose the one that you think would be the easiest for you to implement.  Make it a priority.  Practice the behavior every day.  Then, once it is a habit, begin to incorporate the second and then the third.  Before you know it, 2015 will be a year of increasing performance for you and your employees.

Sharing with others over Christmas

As Christmas is a time for giving, here at Retail Maxim, we thought we’d share something special with those less fortunate over the festive period. Instead of sharing Christmas cards, we all donated the money to a little office fund, one that would benefit a family across the UK over Christmas.

We raised £40.35, purchasing a number of food items and essentials, which was then donated to a food bank.

Please share this with your friends and share a thought for those who aren’t as privileged going in 2015.

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