We have all heard about Mystery Shopping, but can we really use it to make extra cash and how can we go about it? Here are some tips and suggestions to shop for free:
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.
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.
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.
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…
Robert Brocklesby BSc
Joint Managing Director at Retail Maxim Ltd
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage you to browse the Retail Maxim website to see what we offer in terms of mystery shopping insights and mystery shopping jobs.
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.
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.