Christmas is over, the new year has begun, resolutions have been made (and broken) and it is now time to think about your commercial plans for 2018. As consumers we have heard it all before, we either aren’t spending enough or we’re spending more than we should. This occurs in a variety of areas, whether it be clothing, food or luxury products. Continue reading “The economic direction of 2018”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas adverts are on the air, decorations are being put up, Christmas Markets are now filling your weekend plans and festive jingles are playing in the background in most shops. While this is the time for cosy nights in front of the fire, it is also the time for stressful Christmas shopping. As a mystery shopping company, Retail Maxim always helps retailers gain important insight on shoppers’ experiences. This is why we have asked a randomly selected panel a few questions on the subject of Christmas shopping and advertising, here are our findings: Continue reading “Thoughts on Christmas Shopping”
Earlier this year, a colleague of ours’ son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Due to this, his mother must test his blood every 2 hours leading to the two of them being unable to enjoy a full night’s sleep.
We discovered that they were able to purchase a continuous glucose monitor retailing for £750, as this is not available through the NHS, we set on a fundraising mission.
Gathering effective feedback about your business can take many forms, including conducting a customer survey.
Although customer surveys are the popular choice for many businesses, mystery shopping is proving to be the more effective option, and here’s why:
Are you a fan of shopping? And giving your opinion about shopping experiences? Are you older than 18? Then you are eligible to sign up to be a mystery shopper with Retail Maxim!
We are always seeking honest, unbiased, observant shoppers to join us and make anonymous store visits, and share their findings through the completion of a survey. Local businesses that you are visiting may choose to incorporate some of the feedback for quality control and staff training purposes.
When applying to become a mystery shopper, you will be asked for basic contact details, and the stores you will likely need to visit.
Mystery shopping is, unbeknownst to many, a wide term. There are many different types of mystery shopping and if you are able to utilise them correctly, you will obtain better results.
Effective mystery shopping programmes will be able to address customer touch-points and reflect how the customer interacts with you.
Below, we’ve listed a few of the basic types of mystery shopping and where they are best applied:
In-person mystery shopping
In-person mystery shopping is the most common type of mystery shopping and the most frequently used. It entails a single mystery shopper visiting a specific location and forming an assessment of the performance in accordance to pre-defined metrics. Varying on the nature of the metrics, along with the purpose of the shop and type of industry, a shop could take between a few minutes to a couple hours to finish.
The most common in-person shops are in industries including:
- Gas Stations
Telephone mystery shopping
Call centers are most likely to adopt this type of mystery shopping, along with industries where the telephone is an integral part of the customer experience. Telephone mystery shops are typically conducted through a mystery shopping company’s call center.
A company may record a phone call and use it as a coaching tool.
Telephone mystery shopping is typically used for industries such as:
- Call centers
Internet mystery shopping
This particular type of mystery shopping is used when the mystery shopper is attempting to deduce how responsive a company is when interacting with them through the company website or on social media.
Internet mystery shopping is commonly found in the following industries:
- Real estate
Hybrid mystery shopping
Hybrid mystery shopping, also known as multiple touchpoint mystery shopping, will entail a mystery shopper following a full customer journey, integrating the basic types of mystery shopping from online, to the telephone, and then in-store.
Hybrid mystery shopping is commonly found in industries such as:
- Real estate
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.