What the Retail Industry can learn from the closure of Thomas Cook


According to retail statistics, out of 31 failing companies so far this year, 1184 stores have been closed either due to dissolvency or restructuring, casting doubt over the jobs of at least 35,594 employees. 


In our previous blog, we looked at how to protect stores from the ever-increasing influence of online shopping upon the retail industry. Today, we’re going to explore why one of the most recognisable brands on the high street has capitulated under the pressures of the modern economy; and how their mistakes correspond with the retail landscape.

Continue reading “What the Retail Industry can learn from the closure of Thomas Cook”

Interest Rates Rises and Christmas

On the 2nd of November, the Bank of England raised the base rate from 0.25% to 0.50%, in an attempt to tackle inflation following the post-Brexit economic slowdown. The term interest rate refers to the amount that is due to be charged to the borrower as interest and it comes as a percentage of the loan in question. While the rise in interest rates won’t affect savers much, it might affect small businesses, first-time homeowners and mortgage payers. Continue reading “Interest Rates Rises and Christmas”

Is upselling good customer service?

We have all been victims of it. You are in a cafe or a restaurant, you have chosen and ordered a yummy meal and you are excited to finally eat your lunch. As you are about to pay, the nice lady at the counter asks “Would you like dessert for only £1 more?” All of us has experienced upselling in one way or another. On one hand, the extra pound spent for an additional item is a great deal. But on the other side, the cafe has led you to spend more money for something you didn’t really want. Continue reading “Is upselling good customer service?”

3 ways to prevent poor customer service

What determines the true cost of poor customer service? The short answer is that there isn’t an equation to help determine how much you are losing by poor customer service.

No two customers or businesses are the same but the negative impact of producing poor customer service can be similar, if not the same.

For each customer that is lost from poor customer service, you lose new customers that could have been referred to you. Along with that, your brand’s reputation could be damaged and brand loyalty. This will further negatively impact your performance and profits.

Continue reading “3 ways to prevent poor customer service”

Beware of mystery shopping scams

mystery shopping scams

Unfortunately, there are a lot of email scams involving Mystery Shopping assignments. There is no way to prevent these but they should be reported to your local law enforcement agency.

How to spot a scam

  • All emails from us come from addresses ending in @retail-maxim.co.uk. If someone contacts you from a different address, it isn’t us
  • Genuine companies will use a company email address. If someone contacts you from an account with Hotmail or Gmail (or similar) they are unlikely to be a genuine company
  • We only send emails to shoppers who have registered with us. If you didn’t register on our database, we won’t email you
  • We always speak to our shoppers every time that we offer them an assignment
  • We do not pay our shoppers through Western Union, and we never ask them to transfer money with Western Union
  • If you are asked to bank a cheque, it’s likely to be a scam
  • No genuine mystery shopping company would trust someone they don’t know with a large sum of money as an advance. If you are contacted and offered a large payment in advance, this is likely to be a scam
  • If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably will be. Mystery shopping does not normally pay large amounts. If you are offered £100 to conduct a basic enquiry it is very unlikely to be a genuine assignment
  • If you apply for non mystery shopping work on a job site and are then told that the vacancy is filled but there is mystery shopping work available as an alternative, this is likely to be a scam.

Here are a couple of links which give a bit more information on such scams:


http://www.mysteryshoppersmanual.com/category/mystery-shopper-scam (a USA-based site but a lot of the information applies to the UK too)

In the UK, all internet scams/attempted scams should be reported to Action Fraud, the national fraud and internet crime reporting centre:  http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

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.

Why are mystery shoppers still a big deal in the age of critical data?

Mystery shoppers are important to your business more than you know

Businesses can get a feel on their performance in a number of ways, yet few avenues will provide the same unique, experience that mystery shoppers can give, providing an in depth insight into how your staff perform.

Even in an era that is dominated by ‘Big Data’, physical businesses still need to gain feedback from their customer activity and mystery shoppers fill this void of need for businesses across the world. Mystery shoppers can operate undercover to give the right people a significant view of their business.

So, even though big data is still a big part of customer service, to get a real sense of the customer experience, you require the services of a mystery shopper who can tell you what needs to be changed.

Mystery shoppers are important to your business more than you know.
Mystery shoppers are important to your business more than you know.

The alternate view

Shoppers will look for different factors in different industries. For example, those who work in hospitality will be judged on their customer service that they provide to the mystery shopper and the speed in which the mystery shopper is seen to, seated and served. The mystery shopper will look for chances to get a sale out of staff, with teamwork and engagement both coming under review in this period. Little factors such as cleanliness, order accuracy, quality and temperature of food and presentation are all included in the mystery shoppers report.

Alternatively, drive-thru mystery shoppers will often focus on different factors as the experience is different to that of a sit in restaurant. For example, wait and delivery times will both be reviewed compared to casual dining, where the focus lies on team work and wait time.

In order for mystery shoppers to have as big as an effect as possible, restaurants should consider scheduling a number of visits per period, so you get a real look into how your employees operate and perform under pressure, during the busiest and most profitable parts of the day. They should also be scoping out weekday versus weekend operations, the bar service and the dining area.

A mystery shopping program can help with any marketing ideas that you may want to implement into your business. For example, mystery shoppers can ensure that a campaign is delivered on time, without any delay, and it ensures that a consistent delivery is given across the brand. They can also make sure the new menu offering is being promoted on site by staff.

The follow up process

Once the experience has been recorded and reviewed, our mystery shoppers will give us a detailed report of what kind of service they received. The restaurant will have a follow up as soon as possible.

The feedback that our mystery shoppers give us will then help us to help the brand further facilitate any necessary training or particular follow up that may be needed.

For more on mystery shopping, please visit our website.