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

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.