21 Tips for Excellent Retail Customer Service

There are many challenges that come along when working in retail.

Often, it’s the distraction of these challenges that means employees lose focus on providing the best customer service they can to shoppers.

Retail Maxim, a mystery shopping company specialising in retail, has put together a list of simple tips below that can improve your retail customer service!

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Pros of Becoming a Mystery Shopper

Mystery shoppers provide customer service feedback to a business while posing as customers.

A mystery shopper may be asked to visit a hotel, banks, restaurants, cinemas, shops, and other businesses to pose as a regular customer while they are taking mental notes on the location’s cleanliness, staff courtesy, and any other issues that concern the business owner.

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How Mystery Shopping Can Tell You More Than a Customer Survey

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:

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A step-by-step guide to mapping your customer’s journey

A customer journey map is an incredible tool for understanding and improving your customers’ experience.

A good customer journey map will document your customer experience from the customer’s eyes, thus helping you understand how customers interact with you and possibly identify any areas for improvement.

However, you may have difficulty finding a standard customer journey map as there is no standard. You can, however, build it following design principles, or any other visual creations – make a work of art.

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What NOT to Do in Terms of Customer Service

We have obtained some accounts over the years from our mystery shoppers that are quite something.

We’ve listed a few of our favourites scenarios below, showing you what should NOT be done in terms of customer service!

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Mystery Shoppers Can Improve Customer Service

From a study involving a team of over 100 mystery shoppers, it has been noted that customer experiences have been improved through the help of mystery shopping.

But what is a mystery shopper?

Essentially, mystery shoppers go into a predetermined store and will talk to assistants, buy products, and them write up a report about the level of service that was received.

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Mystery shopping uncover ‘basic errors’ at post offices

It has been reported that a recent mystery shopping investigation has uncovered some basic post office errors.

One of said errors includes an enquiry made asking for advice on whether to send items via second class.

The investigation found that although 75% of shoppers believed the service to be sufficient at local post offices, there were a number of ‘inconsistencies’ uncovered.

Staff had correctly recommended that an item should be posted second class in 39% of cases, coupled with almost 1 in 10 shoppers being unable to withdraw their desired amount of money.

Following a number of visits, peaking over 450, shoppers had commented that the queue times were ‘broadly good’, those immediately being in 60% of cases.

The report continued to state that in 97% of cases, accessibility was good or had seen an improvement.

Chief executive of Citizens Advice – those whom the report belongs to – Gillian Guy, said, “Local post offices are crucial to consumers and businesses so these changes are absolutely vital. They have the potential to ensure the sustainability of the network and protect its role at the heart of communities.

While the principles behind the reforms are right, out investigation has uncovered some inconsistencies with service delivery that quickly need to be put right. Post Office Ltd should urgently iron out these problems to ensure the new service works effectively for all consumers.

In response, Mark Davies Post Office spokesman said: “Our modernisation programme is delivering longer opening hours, greater accessibility for customers and a branch network sustainable for the future. These mystery shopper visits to a number branches at the start of the year show waiting times coming down, with 60% of customers service instantly in local branches, and the vast majority of mystery shoppers being satisfied with staff knowledge on the scenarios tested, as well as with the overall experience of their visit.

This tallies with our on-going research based on customer experiences which consistently shows over 95% customer satisfaction with the Post Office Local model.

There is always room for improvement and we will consider as a business what further steps we can take to improve service for customers, but the findings of this research, if not the narrative which accompanies it, shows positive steps forward in one of the largest transformation programmes in Europe.

Mystery shopping can be vital for a business to be able to consider their customer service and analyse what should be changed and identify what they are doing right and wrong. Have you had any good or bad experiences at your local Post Office?

Using the correct type of mystery shopping for better results

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:

  • Automotive
  • Banking
  • Convenience
  • Fitness
  • Gas Stations
  • Healthcare
  • Hotels
  • Restaurant
  • Retail
  • Wireless

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
  • Healthcare
  • Hotels
  • IT
  • Telecommunications
  • Tourism
  • Travel

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:

  • Automotive
  • eCommerce
  • Real estate
  • Telecommunications
  • Travel

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:

  • Automotive
  • Banking
  • Healthcare
  • Hotel
  • Real estate
  • Travel

Do you think you have what it takes to become a mystery shopper? Find out more about mystery shopping on our website!

 

The rise of mystery shopping

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!