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.

Christmas 2 Christmas 1

What are the long term benefits of good customer service?

Does customer service hold the key to your business success?

Having a bad experience with customer service is never positive; it only puts you off returning to a business because of said service. Maybe you’ve encountered someone with a poor attitude or you’ve had someone speak to you in an offensive manner on the phone: regardless of what it is, you’re more likely to go elsewhere if you’re feeling let down by a business. But, if bad customer service will push customers away, can implementing good service help draw them back to your business? Find out in our latest blog.

How can you increase customer loyalty and what are the benefits of this?

When you’re analysing the overall quality of your customer service, a vital indication of great service is customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is exactly what you think it means; having a group of customers who are loyal to the brand, so they’ll recommend to others and do repeat business. A study recently revealed the a massive 68% of customers leave a brand or service simply because that suffer a bad experience with the company in one way or another. This customer will, on average, talk about their bad experience with around 8 people, but this can stretch to a considerable 25. It’s more common for a customer to talk about bad experiences than good ones.

Retaining customers through loyalty

The first major benefit of providing good customer service is maintaining a high level of customer retention. It’s common knowledge that if you make a customer happy, they’ll return multiple times to do repeat business. For this to become common practice in your business, you’ll need to have well-trained customer service reps who can deal with issues and handle questions on a one to one basis, as this will ensure that their needs are met. Customer service reps who listen to their customers will go a long way in terms of customer appreciation; even if the problem isn’t solved right away, it’s beneficial to the customer as they’re happy that you’re trying to fix their problem.

Improve your employee retention to see the benefits

If you have a good team of customer service reps, who understand that they’re the representation of the company on a one to one basis, then you’ll be more likely to communicate effectively with customers over the phone and face to face. If you deliver the correct training on how to deal with phone calls, you’re more likely to increase employee retention.

Save money through brand ambassadors

Having great customer service can relieve a lot of pressure on your company to attract new customers. Delivering great service will give you a massive helping hand in attracting new clients, as word of mouth is one of the most popular ways of generating business. When you impress a customer and give great service, they’ll tell their friends about your company, so not only are you delivering great service, you’re also moulding your current customers into brand ambassadors, free of charge!

Visit our website for customer service, mystery shopping and more!

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas, from all of us here at Retail Maxim!

Mystery Shopping: FAQ

Mystery shopping provokes many questions: what it is to what the minimum age to become a mystery shopper is.

What is a mystery shopper?
Someone who is considered a mystery shopper will pose as a customer, all the while assessing the customer service they are receiving by the company or organisation.

How can I become a mystery shopper?
To apply for the position of a mystery shopper, you can view our criteria and apply for a position: Mystery Shopper Criteria

What does mystery shopping entail?
The role of a mystery shopper can be done via email, website survey, face to face visit or home visit.
It’s quite a lengthy list.
What about Telephone Mystery Shopping? Or better Video Mystery Shopping?

What type of person has the ability to become a mystery shopper?
The qualities that are sought out for when looking at potential mystery shoppers are exceptional memory skills, observational and writing skills.
Those who desire to be a mystery shopper must be committed to their work, should be flexible, have the ability to meet deadlines but must be enthusiastic and reliable also.

Can mystery shopping be a full-time profession?
It has yet to be done to make a full living out of a mystery shopper role, as assignments vary with locations and many clients can be specific, as an example, a client may require a female between the ages of 18 and 26 to go to a retail store.
Mystery shopping is perfect for someone who is looking for a side job earning them money.

Are there any disadvantages of becoming a mystery shopper?
There aren’t any disadvantages per say, although once as assignment has been set, it must by all means be seen through from start to finish, within the applied deadline.
Work must be done effectively and efficiently – it should never be revealed that you are a mystery shopper if you are suspected to be one.

Is there a minimum age of becoming a mystery shopper?
There is no official age limit for becoming a mystery shopper, although if you are given an assignment and you are under 18, permission will be required from a parent or guardian.

Do I need qualifications to become a mystery shopper?
To become a mystery shopper, you must be able to speak, read and write in English competently and must have exceptional grammar and punctuation skills for reports that will need to be written.
It is also quite beneficial for you to have access to a computer/laptop with internet and email.

For further information on mystery shopping and our services, do not hesitate to visit our website!

Maintaining customer trust is vital in modern business

Trust is a thing that’s incredibly tough to earn. Making your customers trust you as a business and instilling a loyalty element to your relationship is incredibly important to gain, yet it’s also easily lost.

It’s not uncommon for a company to lose touch with their customers: businesses rely on their employees to keep them in constant touch with their customers, yet a simple disagreement between these two parties can cause a loss of business for this company. Trying to keep up with demand from customers can be a tricky business as it’s not guaranteed that a customer will tell you outright when they have doubts about your company or the services on offer. Here’s how you can notice any negative signs within your customers:

There’s less contact between you.
If customers don’t come in as regular as they usually do, or they often miss making regular orders, they could be expressing their dissatisfaction without making a direct message to you. They could also be exploring other options, simply waiting until their contract is up with you and switching to a cheaper or better deal.

They seek advice from other businesses
If you’re a trusted business that has trustworthy sales people and advisers, they wouldn’t be trying to read information or find out things from other businesses. This could suggest that a customer is seeking advice from experts other than you, which could lead to the development of new business relationships.

They ask more questions
Customers who lose trust in your business will often start asking more questions than they usually would – they could often question the processes, practices and contracts regarding your business. It’s commonly a sign that they feel a level of distrust with your business.

They could be quiet
If customers aren’t offering the same level of feedback that they used to, you shouldn’t be surprised if they suggest you’re not listening to their opinions. They often won’t complain, compliment your business or even offer alternative suggestions.

So, what can you do to change this?
The best thing to do for your business is to monitor any accounts for these activites. You should always encourage sales and service clients to note any changes in the attitude of your customers.

It’s advisable that you also have a team who can reach out to your customers who may be losing interest because it might just bring them back.

For more on customer service hints and tips, please visit our website.

Mystery shoppers: the benefits

Times has evolved from surveys and questionnaires of rating customer experience, mystery shoppers are the new method to extract customer satisfaction.

Below we explore the benefits of employing a mystery shopper within your organisation:

New experience
Some mystery shoppers you have employed may have already visited your company prior employment, but others will be experiencing something entirely new, which means no biased opinions that will affect their view of your business.
This is an opportunity to learn what the experience is like from someone who is trained to give your feedback, similar to the way a real customer would view the sales process.

Customer satisfaction
Mystery shoppers are specifically trained to evaluate customer service, which will give you an insight into the satisfaction of your customers.
You’ll be able to find out if any of your employees are behaving unpleasantly towards customers, which inevitably it leading to low satisfaction scores, and you’ll also be able to see how your employees work when you’re out of the office.

Low cost
Depending on the company and the shopper, mystery shopper services do tend to be at a low cost. It’s something that doesn’t require much investment, to get the sort of feedback you’re receiving.

Keep employees on their toes
Employees that are aware that a mystery shopper may be visiting their store, will be more likely to excel in providing excellent customer service to every customer, knowing that they may be being evaluated.

For more information on mystery shopping, visit our website!

Why customer service is important for your business

Customer service is such an important factor to consider for your business, as it has the power to make or break it.

If customers are unsatisfied with your employees or feel they aren’t being treated as a customer should be, they will go elsewhere for their purchases and will probably even suggest friends and family members to avoid your business.
Of course, you do not want that, so it’s important to train up your employees to serve the best customer service and then monitor it, so it continues at a satisfactory level.

When customer service is high, customer satisfaction will be even higher and that’s perfect for business.

Customer service comes in many forms, and you may not even realise you’re doing them, so remember to pay attention to what you’re doing at all times.
An example? – A customer could walk into your retail store and ask for a specific item. you may not have that item in stock but you do have a similar one that does the same thing, so you say, ‘I’m sorry we don’t, but we do have another product that serves the same purpose, maybe you might interested in that?’ – That’s customer service.

Another form of customer service is over the phone.
No matter what type of business you are running, you will get customers calling on the phone – either to be asking about the hours of operation or regarding a purchase they may have recently made.
No matter the reason for calling, you employee answering should know how to answer appropriately and maintains mannerisms at all times.

People will continue to do business with you if they are treated kindly and with the utmost respect; if treated the opposite way, customers will be driven away.

Following up with customers is another form of customer service.
Showing your customers you care about the and you want to make sure that everything they have and need is working efficiently and at a standard they like, they’ll be grateful for that and will remember you.
Plus they won’t be afraid to come to you if there’s a problem they may need assistance with, and won’t think twice about recommending you to friends and family.

One last form of customer service you should ensure happens is helping your customers. No matter if they are young or old, by helping them to their car when they have quite an arm load of products, you are showing you care.
Another way is by helping them selecting the right product for them, by helping them understand which will cater best for what they are purchasing that product for.

It’s crucial to keep the customer in mind by providing them excellent customer service, if you do not, they will leave and go to your competitor.

For more information about customer service and our mystery shopping services we offer, visit our website!

Why is using a mystery shopping service important?

What importance does mystery shopping hold today?

As we all know, mystery shopping is process of going into a physical store and evaluating the overall performance of the employees. The mystery shopper goes in pretending to be a simple shopper, visiting the store for the purpose of purchasing an item. This shopper is either employed by the store or an external company, assessing the employee performance and submitting a report.

There’s no specific requirements essential to become a mystery shopper, as you don’t need to hold a certain appearance, qualification or manner, you’re simply blending in with all of the other shoppers. Those who hold a massive flair and passion for the field will enhance the levels of customer service in the store and these people are requested highly in the service.

Although being a mystery shopper is incredibly fun, it’s good to remember that mystery shopping is still a serious business, one that’s clearly structured to aid the service of stores around the world. It’s important to hold a few traits in order to deal with the mystery shopping process, like reliability, professionalism and levels of trust you can offer a company. Apart from these traits, you should remember that shoppers should have a way of transportation, literate skills and good memory.

Mystery shoppers don't require specific traits
Mystery shoppers don’t require specific traits

The stores that use mystery shopping are using this to massively boost their sales by improving their levels of customer satisfaction through improved customer service. Mystery shoppers are hired in order to increase the sales of the store by giving employees pointers on how to improve their performance. The service is not only useful for evaluating the performance of the staff, it’s also vital for checking the service available to customers from their business rivals. You can compare the two levels of customer service to find areas that need improvement or changing. This allows the problems to be rectified faster than usual, increasing the number of customers visiting the store through word of mouth recommendations, boosting the sales massively for businesses nationwide.

Before considering hiring a mystery shopping service, you should take a look at the existing level of service that’s already in place at the business. This will give you an insight into what needs boosting in your business, so doing your own research is good preparation for the shopping service. If you conduct an audit of the employees, you’ll be sure to receive a look into their work performance, but don’t tell them about the incoming mystery shopper service. Doing so will affect the results, as they’ll be extra alert in their service, causing inaccuracies in the findings.

So, what do you think? Would you be interested in a mystery shopping service?

If you are, please visit our website here or call us on 0844 875 5505 for more info!

Are you listening?

An indepth look into mystery shopping

By Robert Brocklesby BSc

I get asked all the time by clients, how can we ensure that a higher percentage of our customers make purchases? My answer is always the same: you must first ask your customers why they are not purchasing, understand what wants and needs you are not fulfilling, and act.

Reports indicate that anywhere from 50 – 82% of customers leave retail stores without purchasing. For most retailers, increasing the percentage of purchasing customers by a very attainable 5% could make a tremendous difference to the bottom line. The example I always site runs as follows: if 50% of a store’s 200 daily customers typically make purchases, and this store’s average sale per customer is £40, raising the store’s purchase rate to 55% (only 10 more purchasers per day) would equate to an additional £400/day and £146,000 annually. If that store was part of a 100-store chain, and they all raised their purchase rates from 50% to 55%, the additional annual sales would equate to almost £15 million!

I truly believe that in an age where customers willingly share their experiences with family, friends and the social media world it’s not surprising that they may be just as willing to share their thoughts, experiences and preferences , if asked, with retailers.

This is where Retail Maxim’s ‘Real Customer Surveys’ can help. Both Exit Surveys as well as ‘Online’ based surveys consult ‘real’ customers who have either bought or not, with a focused questionnaire to discover their views.

Retail Maxim’s surveys are an effective form of gauging Real Customers’ honest thoughts and opinions. We also charge a fraction of the price compared to other Market Research companies who often create lengthy, complex surveys which can aggravate customers. So, are you reading this and need to know the answers to the following sorts of questions?

  • What are your customers’ unfulfilled needs?
  • Why are customers leaving your locations without purchasing?
  • Are your promotional materials bringing customers in and making an impact?
  • Where else are your customers shopping and why?
  • What do customers think about your new concept store?
  • And much, much more…

If the answer is ‘yes’ then call Retail Maxim today to discuss how we can help.

Robert Brocklesby BSc

Joint Managing Director at Retail Maxim Ltd

Mystery shoppers’ wanted by Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police are calling for hundreds of “mystery shoppers” to go undercover and test the service it provides to the public. Volunteers are being asked to go incognito and quiz policing staff regarding matters like missing pets and asking for directions.

Anybody who signs up and volunteers for the scheme will each be handed a separate task – requesting different things from the police and in turn, filling out a survey which will give vital feedback to the Police on how they perform when dealing with public figures.

A message has been sent out by the Thames Valley branch of the Police, which reads: ““The purpose of the Mystery Shopping Programme is to assess how Thames Valley Police perform (including our strengths and weaknesses) and to identify any areas where we might need to make changes or improvements.”

They later added to the message that they were “not able to offer any incentive or reimburse expenses” of things like petrol used by volunteers in the mystery shopping programme, though this doesn’t come as a major surprise to those interested.

The scheme comes after a newspaper in Oxford (The Oxford Mail) had reported that 12 people had completed questionnaires that were used to measure the impact of cutbacks on Police Station opening hours.

Three years ago, Thames Valley Police brought back the amount of public access hours to their police stations by up to 70 per cent. Though this may seem a considerable number, it’s allowed savings of over £600,000 since its beginning.

Natalie Wallace, Spokeswoman for the Police Force, believes that the scheme will assess the performance of front counter services, allowing the force to identify potential shortcomings in their service. She added that the Police Force were looking for anywhere between 300-500 new volunteers across the Thames Valley area.

She said: “They will be given the task and they will have 28 days to get their results back in so they are able to choose when and to which station they go during that time. They won’t be required to do anything like report crime or stolen property.”

The tasks are set to include asking the front desk for advice when reporting a lost dog/item, or when asking for directions to a building or place in the local area.

The mystery shoppers will supply the Force with general feedback regarding the levels of customer service they received, whether that be from the Front Counter or whether the information they received by information, helpful and friendly.

If you’re interested in helping the Thames Valley Police Force, please visit their website here.

What’s the true cost of poor retail customer service?

Is poor customer service in retail leading to lower sales in the sector?

The retail sector is one of the most used avenues of customer service worldwide, as customer interaction is more common with staff of the big brands compared to various other industries. Though it’s one of the biggest customer service sectors, companies on the high street seemingly suffer from poor levels of customer service. So, what can be done to combat this and if nothing is done, what effects can it have on the customer service industry?

Big brands on the high street are suffering from customer service woes whilst their online counterparts are enjoying continued growth. What can companies do to ensure survival in an ever fierce battle between the high street giants for customer service dominance? What makes a loyal customer?

Below we give you 4 top reasons to that’ll keep a customer coming back for more, ensuring that a customer stays loyal to your brand.

Be sure to monitor and analyse all forms of customer feedback

Mystery shopping is completely designed around doing just this. Need to monitor how your staff are performing in store? Just how helpful are they to the customers that visit you most? Find out all of this and more through our mystery shopping scheme. We can deliver over 10 different forms of customer service analysis, from video mystery shopping, to phone call analysis, exit surveys and more! It’s the best way to gain an insight into what your loyal customers think of you.

Consistency of information is key

Your customers will often call you for an information query, so be sure that you’re giving them consistent information across the board. There’s no point telling one customer one thing and relaying a different message to another: consistency is key. Your levels of consistency can be monitored by our telephone mystery shoppers. It’s a great way to see how you’re performing!

Give answers in a precise and timely manner

Have you made it easy for your customers to find vital information at the drop of a hat? It’s a good idea to have an FAQ section of your site (pictured) as it will usually answer all of the questions that could be asked by your customers. This will reduce customers calling up your store, so it’s a good way of keeping the communication process open without having to speak with your customers directly.

Mystery Shopping FAQs
Mystery Shopping FAQs

Multi-channel engagement

Customer service should be available anytime, anywhere, regardless of the platform that it’s being delivered on. Offer a multi channel service to all which allows a wider audience to interact with you!

What do you think of our ideas? We want to hear from you in the comments below! For more on customer service and mystery shopping, please visit our website.