How can mystery shoppers improve your customer service?

Mystery shoppers can give you a service unlike no other, but why use it?

Mystery shoppers are, quite simply, those who carry out the services of improving customer service for companies across the world. Acting as a customer, they test the customer service department as some form of auditor. Mystery shoppers worldwide carry out tasks at the places of business, on a company’s website or simply over the phone.

Unlike most real customers, these mystery shopping professionals are trained to look for specific qualities in the customer service that they’re analysing. They measure the qualities in your customer service representatives, offering feedback on the level of customer service that they receive, giving suggestions that raise the bar on customer satisfaction levels.

With these handy tips below, we help you determine whether mystery shopping is a step in the right direction for your business:

 What are the benefits of mystery shopping?

Before you sign up for a mystery shopping programme, you should consider what the benefits would be to your company. Work out what exactly you’d like to reap from the process. Some of the benefits of mystery shopping vary, but here’s what’s included:

• A different perspective! You’ll gain the ability to view your business through the eyes of the customer, learning just what your clients think of you at first impression. This is the only way to gain this perspective, as trying to gain this from someone within your company won’t convey as effectively.

• An overview of your customer service! A gifted mystery shopper can tell you what exactly works in your customer service programme and what doesn’t, allowing you to make the relevant changes.

• A spot on evaluation of what your customer service offers. Mystery shoppers will display whether your employees offer a valuable customer service experience, allowing your employees to earn the correct skills, providing a positive impression on your clients.

Mystery shoppers can accurately assess the state of your customer service, finding which area of your customer service should be corrected in your customer experience. This allows for you to fine tune any deficiencies that exist in your staff training.

Mystery shopping is of great importance to customer service
Mystery shopping is of great importance to customer service

Starting a mystery shopper program

Given the benefits above sound like something you’d wish to incorporate into your customer service experience, it’s time to start your mystery shopping program! Take these steps in order to get ready for the experience:

• Tell your employees that you are starting the program, just to make sure that they don’t feel blindsided after the program takes place. Tell them it’s not something they’re doing wrong, rather a training tool for could be used to raise the level of service offered by your staff.

• Discover what you want to get out of the mystery shopping service. Setting particular benchmarks will allow for you to monitor just how well your program is going.

• Find out which mystery shopping service will best meet all of your needs and budgets. For example, you can hire a larger company that can operate in a number of outlets nationwide but this isn’t exactly necessary if you have just one store.

Mystery shopping can be used as one of the most effective ways to evaluate your current state of customer service that’s available to your audience. A professional in the mystery shopper service will give your company guidance in ways to raise the standards of your employees, giving you a level of service that pleases all.

For more on mystery shopping programs, please visit our website.

Who would best suit a Mystery shopping Job?

Mystery Shopping is a tool used to anonymously evaluate customer service, operations, employee integrity, merchandising and product quality.

Mystery ShoppingI’m sure you’ve heard of them, but what do you need to get a mystery shopping job? It’s not necessarily qualifications you’re required to have but they are advised, it’s mainly down to a number of different skills and knowledge behind an individual’s character.

To get a mystery shopping job you must be at least 18 years of age or older which is a minimum requirement. The individual should have knowledge of how to use the internet, don’t worry you don’t have to be a PC guru, just enough knowledge where you can simply access emails and create/send reports from the mystery shopping experience.

 

Qualities needed for a Mystery Shopping Job

 

Reliability in the individual

Reliability in an individual is essential the majority of the time due to the fact a mystery shopper has to be on time and punctual once turning up to any briefing or task, usually this is if the client has asked for a mystery shopper to be in store at a specific time.

Confidence

Confidence is key, always remember that! this is because any real customers will behave naturally and their opinions expressed with what they dislike or like, with any mystery shopper job you are ‘acting’ or posing as a customer once in store, you then have to monitor the store based on a criteria in which has been requested by the client.

Accuracy

Delivering truthful and honest feedback is essential meaning any individual must be 100% accurate when performing the mystery shopping tasks, high level of detail is usually needed in any report stating your opinions, experiences with staff and their performance in certain situations.

Having a good memory

This is an essential and yet basic skill, but any mystery shopper is required to have good memory and the ability to recap experiences to be able to write a detailed report, this is why memorising certain details in accuracy and clarity will help when noting down each task.

 

Access to a camera device/scanner

With every mystery shopping job you’re required to have a camera or any device with a camera as well as a scanner, this is due to the fact that receipts of purchases or photographs which are required for evidence will need to be sent in with the report in order for it to be complete.

 

What is a Mystery Shopper

What is a Mystery Shopper and what purpose do they have?

Mystery Shoppers also known as a Mystery Consumer is an individual(s) who are hired by market research companies such as Retail Maxim and others like Watchdog organizations but also can be internal, their key role is to measure the quality of service, gather specific information about products & services as well as check the compliance with regulation.

What are mystery shoppers

The obvious role of a mystery shopper is they perform specific tasks such as purchasing product(s), asking questions about the product or service, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way, and then provide detailed surveys or feedback about their experiences.

So what about mystery shoppers today?

Mystery Shopping Surveys

Since around 2010 onwards, mystery shopping has become abundant in the medical tourism industry, with healthcare providers and medical facilities using mystery shoppers to asses and improve the customer service experience.

In the United Kingdom mystery shopping is increasingly used in this day and age to provide feedback on customer services provided by local authorities, and other non-profit companies such as housing associations.

To find out more about the criteria to be a mystery shopper or the common FAQs to becoming a mystery shopper then please click one of the two links.

Common FAQs of becoming a Mystery Shopper

Criteria Of a Mystery Shopper

Customer service: which brands actually get it right?

The customer service industry was created by mistake, seemingly.

It’s been outsourced to companies for the past decades and since the evolution of the internet customer service has become widespread across all mediums of contact now. Online customer service is often ill-suited to meeting customer service needs and here’s why:

  • New channels of communication have been adapted to slowly by companies.
  • New channels bringing the challenge of a single customer view has been difficult to handle.
  • Single customer view brings the challenge of data centralisation.
  • New devices and consumption habits (the Smartphone) have made older web assets somewhat redundant, proposing more problems for companies.

Yet, in 2013, many companies seemed to wake up and smell the ‘coffee’. The coffee of customer service being something that needs tackling head on as when it’s completed well it can be unbelievably important to the resulting level of customer happiness, augmenting the final product you sell.

There are many avenues in which customer service lives where seamless customer experience takes away the reliance on call centres, improving conversion and customer happiness.

Aside from the web giants making a virtue of customer experience, which brands have made recent commitments to customer service?

Besides the web giants making the customer experience difficult to match, which brands have been making increased commitments to customer service in 2013?

Self-service

A majority of customers now expect a self-service options for customer service, with many actively preferring it in modern business. Smartphone usage is high enough to influence the efficiency of any customer service operation. As self service options are digital, it’s much easier for companies to keep records of customer interaction.

Anytime Fitness

24 hour service is naturally a fantastic USP for Anytime Fitness, as the name of the company so subtly suggests. The brand’s sites have ’24 hour’ featured in title tags to avoid any confusion to customers.

Anytime Fitness makes it clear about being 24 hour

You may think that 24 hour access for Anytime Fitness customers isn’t really an example of customer service as it’s essentially the product offered, yet this isn’t the case.

If this doesn’t give you enough satisfaction, Anytime Fitness produce instructional videos to take the personal trainer out of the equation, allowing customers to maintain a fitness regime when the specific staff aren’t around. These videos are accessible in the Gyms or on the website, so it’s great for all customers. These videos are also accessible to non-gym goers, for a fee, opening up their market massively by adding a new revenue stream.

Anytime Fitness believe in 'convenience + culture+

All of this is based on the company’s commitment to their audience’s convenience and culture. Check out the membership page for ease of use and beautiful design.

Giffgaff

Giffgaff, rather famously, do not operate call centres. There’s a significant cost struck off to start off with. Naturally, some customers will ask for a phone number on support forums, but the stats for their customer service responses are great.

Giffgaff offer help online

Answers on the support forums are given by fellow customers, which is similar to the model developed by Sky, where customer service ‘champions’ are rewarded for their efforts through free stuff, product testing and sometimes an occasional meeting with the Sky team themselves.

This thread just shows the customer reaction and true feeling when one customer displayed their dismay at Giffgaff not having a phone number.

Crowd-service or P2P

AirBnB’s customer satisfaction is much higher than the classic hotel chains like Hilton, treating this as an indicator of the power of crowd service. The idea is that when it comes to P2P products in particular, the customer service is often provided by the property owner, who is more invested in the product than an outsider.

Of course, this can sometimes mean it can be harder to ensure consistency of experience for all, but nevertheless the culture is fantastic in providing good, wholesome customer service.

Barclaycard Ring

Barclaycard Ring is a similar concept to that of crowd sourcing, but it’s often on a larger scale in this instance, taking onboard customer feedback on what the service do for its customers, both small and big. These can vary from reward programs to charity work.

Barclaycard Ring rewards program

The service is currently still in infancy, nearing two years old, yet it has increased customer retention level by 25%, with Barclaycard estimating a return so far of $10m.

Becoming a Mystery Shopper in the UK

Mystery Shoppers in the UK and what they do

mystery shoppers in the uk

Mystery Shoppers, for bigger corporations and retailers these mystery shoppers serve a massive purpose when it comes to finding out how much they really do value their customers. With great customer service becoming an absolute key these mystery shoppers are everyday looking employed people who come in-store and grade each store with ratings of their customer service.

How to become a Mystery Shopper

Becoming a mystery shopper isn’t as complex as you may think, in fact Retail Maxim specialises in mystery shopping and customer experience services. Throughout the UK thousands of individuals are required to help mystery shop in many outlets and they get paid to shop.. yes that’s right!

Here’s just a key factors we look for in people:

  • Confidence
  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Staying Calm
  • Having a good memory
  • Access to a camera device/scanner

 

Mystery Shoppers: The Benefits to Businesses

With customer service becoming a must in today’s retail sector the benefits to businesses are massive! Mystery shoppers are used to collect useful information and data across as many stores as required helping businesses gather a clear view on how their staff have been trained to aid any customers and their enquiries in the correct manor.

If you’re a business and you wish to find out how mystery shoppers and other services dedicated to providing you information on your company’s customer relations then head over to Retail Maxim for more information.

 

Top tips for making your customer service amazing

TOP Tips for making your Customer Service AMAZING

Nobody wants to be ordinary and everybody wants to feel special at some point. Valued customers are the greatest customers; they recommend you to friends, family and colleagues whilst being repeat buyers. Here are our top tips for making your customer service amazing and creating a fantastic customer community:

Listen to your customers and their feedback: When a customer gives you feedback, whether it be positive or negative, always consider acting upon it. You’d be surprised how often a company will disregard the words of their customers only to lose them later to competition. Always remember to let your customers know that you appreciate their comments – after all, you’re getting free advice from the people who you’re trying to sell to!

Reliability is key to repurchases: Make sure you and your staff know what the customer expectations are and be sure to live up to them. Don’t think that you’re going to make every customer you ever have happy, but aiming to do so isn’t bad for the company. Leave yourself some slack to be certain that you can deliver in the stated deadlines – never risk a delay. The old saying comes to mind here – ‘under-promise and over-deliver’. We can think of a company that lost a customer by promising a 5 day window and completing it in 3 days…

Honesty is the best policy: nobody likes to think they’re being misled or sent away with poor excuses. Always aim to help your customers, not to just force a sale or get a complainer off the phone. Honest businesses will always be successful – building good reputations and getting repeat business is a reward for honesty.

Be positive, feel good about your business: a friendly, can-do attitude goes a long way, especially in the workplace. If there’s a problem, don’t complain or worry about it, you’re going to resolve it – that’s a positive! The customer should leave your establishment feeling good about any interaction with your business – that’s how word-of-mouth was born many years ago and it lives on today.

Be professional: if you’re dealing with an unhappy customer, the temptation to get defensive is too much for some – ‘well, it’s not our fault, this happened and then that happened, our suppliers let us down, it was out of our hands’, and so on. Don’t think for a second that this’ll be what the customer wants to hear – the customer doesn’t want to hear excuses; they just want a resolution, just like you would in the same situation. Throwing in a little extra always goes down well too, especially if it ‘wasn’t your fault’.

Fast paced service has become the norm: In the age of instant online communication, people expect queries to be answered twice as fast as they would’ve 15 years ago. As technology advances, so does the options they have to contact you on. Due to modern global use of the internet, they could be contacting the company through several different social media channels besides being on the phone and typing out an email. Neglecting one for too long will result in unhappy, unanswered customers.

Have a heart: The ‘script’ doesn’t come into play now, talking to customers as the individuals they are is important. Local, smaller businesses can do this better than any big company, as they have a better level of customer knowledge and personalisation. Use it to your advantage – it’s a big selling point for customers tired of the same sales script and the constant ‘you’re important to us, so please wait in a queue for the next 30 minutes.’

What do you think is the key to amazing customer service? Share your tips in the comments below.

Are you are in business for just this one sale, or for many more to come from that customer in the future?

Just One Sale? or Repeat Business?

As Retail Maxim are well aware – if you have customers, you are in the customer service business. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer base through delivering legendary customer service. Recommendations, word-of-mouth and of course, social media can dictate public success or failure very easily.  Dedicating yourself to excellent customer service is one of the smartest and most profitable things that you can ever do for your business.

 1.   Understand customer expectations

Do you know what’s important to your customers? Very successful salespeople are repeatedly referred to as friends and advisors by their customers. If you can explain the need, want or frustration better than the customer can, they will automatically assume you know how to solve the problem.

2.   Exceed expectations

You want to be remembered, and it takes a lot for that to happen in the eyes of a customer. Expectations are high. Even if you are dealing with a complaint make it a “WOW” experience, mystery shoppers are frequently used to have a first hand insight into the day to day workings of many shops and services. Organizations are often remembered for how they deal with difficult situations more than how they perform on a daily basis. If you are not exceeding customer expectations then you are just like every other business out there.

 3. Create customer service systems

Set out to create internal systems that enable the consistent delivery of legendary customer service. Create simple processes, policies and tools to support the delivery of your quality service standards. Processes should never be hassles; they should be designed to remove barriers to providing legendary service.  Of course, this all starts with staff being on-board with your vision, which is when exit surveys can be a great idea.  Employment engagement is an obvious but often overlooked facet.

 4. Make people happy to do business with you

People are predominantly emotional; we are greatly impacted by the warmth, friendliness, cheerfulness and helpfulness of others. Make sure ALL of your staff are capable of making a good first impression within the first 10 seconds of an interaction. It is very difficult to provide a legendary customer experience if YOU are not in a warm, friendly and personable mood.

 5. Do everything to make it right

When you mess up – and you will – how you deal with it will define your business. When faced with an issue, own the issue and promptly do EVERYTHING in your power to make it right. WOW your customer, invest in your people with how you deal with issues and you’ll be forever remembered as an organisation that cares. Remember, you are in business not for just this one sale but for the many more to come from that customer in the future.

 

For more information, call Retail Maxim on telephone number 0844 875 5505 or email us info@retail-maxim.co.uk.  We encourage you to browse the Retail Maxim website to see what we offer in terms of mystery shopping insights and mystery shopping jobs.

England has the highest customer service Expectation

Highest Customer service expectation in England, Really?

Having a smile on your face and welcoming customers when they walk through the door is good customer service. Giving shoppers a choice between a traditional checkout lane in a supermarket and an electronic self-checkout is offering your customers experience. Little options like this will stick in the mind of the customer and they’re more likely to visit a place with friendly and helpful staff.

highest customer service expectation England
highest customer service expectation England

 

When delivering your customer service, doing it right and giving customers a great experience is the key for repeat custom. It won’t guarantee to bring in every single customer in the world, yet it’s good practice and vital in leaving a great impressions for new and current customers alike.

“Unique” is the effective word in this instance. Unlike customer service, do what another business’ already does well won’t work. To create a truly memorable experience for the individuals, you must at first give them one that’s unique. Companies worldwide are scrambling to create new, innovative ways for the customers to experience.

For the longest time, companies have stuck to the same basic infrastructure of customer service that they don’t dare to try and mould. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s always good to go that extra mile so customers sit up and notice your efforts.

The UK has the highest expectations of good customer service. In a recent poll, Brits were asked if they’d be willing to pay for good customer service and here’s what they said:

86% of the Britons polled answered: “No, I expect good service as part of doing business”. This is backed by UK professionals, who came second highest in the global rankings for saying that paying a fee for better service would not be beneficial for an organisation or its customers (62%).

Other findings from the report were:

  • A knowledgeable representative and a timely response are the most valuable components of a great service experience.
  • Hotels, online retailers, and banks provide the best customer service experiences
  • Live agent remains the preferred interaction type, followed by email, and then there is a significant drop to web chat, etc
  • Historical information access is deemed the most valuable feature of an interaction
  • Not being able to understand the agent is rated as the most frustrating part of an interaction
  • The ability to get a scheduled call-back was the most desired feature of mobile service applications
  • The most valuable technical service to offer customers is “an easy way to provide feedback.”
  • Comprehensive reporting and analytics are the top features desired by contact centre professionals

Since the recent uptake of social media also, most customers now take to Twitter to complain about their experiences with your company and if they’re followed by the average amount of followers (126) and they RT you’re potential fighting a losing battle before you start.

Make sure your customer service is at a good level and contact Retail Maxim today.