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!

Film your shopping experience!

Video mystery shopping isn’t all that different to regular mystery shopping, the only difference is that it is filmed.

Video Mystery Shopping

Like mystery shopping, video mystery shopping is incredibly effective for management to get the whole consumer experience. It can also be utilised for any coaching, monitoring or training that needs to be done.

How is video mystery shopping conducted?

The shopper will need a button or pinhole video camera that has a microphone built in and a recorded that has a Secure Digital (SD) card. It would then replace a button on the person’s clothing, preferably a dark coloured shirt or blouse that can easily hide a camera.

There is a possibility you may need to fiddle with the camera beforehand to find a suitable, comfortable position for the camera to sit in and stay in.

Once you arrive at your destination to carry out a video shop, turn on the camera and ensure it’s recording, then state your name, the time and date, and the location for your records before leaving your car, or in a private place. After completing your shop, do not turn off the camera until you are in the car, or, again, in a private place.

Following this, upload the video to the specified location as allocated by the company you are working for.

Retail Maxim can provide you with the latest digital recording equipment to ensure that the highest quality visual and audio feedback is received.

Visit our website for further information about our video mystery shopping service!

Advantages of becoming a mystery shopper

Mystery shopping brings about plenty advantages for a business to view how their customer experience is.

However, mystery shopping has advantages to the shopper also. How, you ask? Continue reading to find out.

Becoming a mystery shopper is a brilliant way to earn money for those that enjoy shopping, have good attention to detail, memory and are sociable. Your job will be to go instore and shop, possibly ask questions a regular customer would ask employees and then write a report of your experience.

Among the benefits are the hours you work which can be quite flexible. Many mystery shoppers are able to work the hours which are convenient with them due to the jobs being varied. There is also the option that mystery shoppers do not have to take on a job they feel isn’t suitable for them, although it is good to keep in mind that the more jobs you accept, the superior the choice of assignments will be available to you in the future.

Again, the most attractive advantages of becoming a mystery shopper is being paid for doing something that you would regularly do. It can be an incredibly fun role. You may be asked to visit cafes, banks and retail stores. It’s beneficial for the prospective mystery shopper to include areas of interest when registering along with any particular products or service they would prefer not to try which will aid the company to match assignments appropriate to you.

Your participation in becoming a mystery shopper is advantageous to the business you are visiting to improve their services to customers overall. It is satisfying to know that you have helped make a difference, to those services that you use often too.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a part of the Retail Maxim Mystery Shopping team? You can view the criteria here!

Please visit the website for further information about mystery shopping jobs.

What mystery shoppers can tell you about your business

Wondering what the experience is liking a customer who is visiting your business is difficult as being a business owner means your staff will be well-behaved when you are around. But what about when you aren’t?

One of the ways to find out how the average customer experiences the services your business provides is through hiring a mystery shopper.

Mystery shoppers are normal people who will visit your business to use your services and/or purchase a product. Upon their visit they will be making observations about the friendliness of your staff and the experience they offer the average customer, the cleanliness of your facilities and how easy it was to get their request attended to, they will proceed to make a report of their findings. It is essentially one of the best ways to view your business through the eyes of the customer.

Below we’ve listed a few of the things mystery shoppers can tell you about your business:

Employee customer service skills

One of the first things mystery shoppers will help you evaluate is the customer service that is provided by your employees and the skills they have. They will make note of how your employees greet them and if the staff are attentive and friendly. The reason your employees customer service skills are of high importance is because they are a face to face representation of your brand.

Efficiency of processes

There may be a business that as recently acquired a new point of sale that is believed to be the appropriate tool for the job. Yet an employee uses it to ring up a purchase a client has made and the machine doesn’t work which could lead to be a time consuming process to sort out; your customer may be getting impatient. A mystery shopper will relay what the experience for the customer is like letting you know whether any systems need to be updated.

What you don’t know

Another benefit of hiring a mystery shopper is the fact they will tell you what most customers will not. There is a high percentage of customers that will not say if they are unhappy with a product or service; they’ll take the easy way out and seek elsewhere. Although, they don’t tell you if they are unhappy with something in particular, the percentage is equally as high that they’ll tell other people, friends and family, essentially leaving a negative review.

First impressions

Mystery shoppers can walk into any store for the first time and notice things that may have been overlooked or ignored by you or employees. They will provide you with a detailed description of their first visit, their impression and right any flaws in the store.

Keep in mind that these are only a few things that mystery shoppers can tell you about your business in order to keep you updated about the service you are providing.

Please visit our website for further information about mystery shopping and our services.

How Mystery Shopping can Improve your Business

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to improve their customer service. For a business to grow and excel in customer satisfaction, it is important to measure the customer buying experience in an objective manner. Continue reading “How Mystery Shopping can Improve your Business”

Is mystery shopping a real job?

It is likely that you are aware of mystery shopping, however, many do no know how mystery shopping is keeping costs in check for the average consumer.

Mystery Shopping Jobs
Mystery shopping is keeping costs in check for the average consumer

Branding

A common task that is assigned to mystery shoppers is checking for brand integration. Seen more frequently in businesses that have had a change in ownership.

The idea is for feedback from the shopper will give the chain owners a sense of how the brand’s identity is translating at the customer’s level. This is a way of saving money as it ensures you are getting what you pay for, as an example, you should not be paying the price of a four-star hotel room that displays the branding of a three-star chain.

Customer service

Recently, businesses have started to pay attention to how they treat their customers.
Companies that use mystery shoppers to audit customer care will benefit from that information to tweak their processes so to be more customer friendly, thus, gaining that extra expenditure of 13% consumers are willing to spend because they received great customer service.

The bottom line

Mystery is shopping is much more than the perks of gaining free food and getting paid for shopping.
It’s a tough role as shoppers will need to a detailed eye and note down everything about their experience, the description filling pages – all of this documentation is for the store owners to use for process improvements.
As long as there is a variety of choice in the places to shop, you ultimately can spend the money how you see fit.
Mystery shoppers grant you to stretch the pound by slimming the possible risk any bad experience could happen in the beginning.

Please visit our mystery shopping jobs page if you think you have what it takes to become a mystery shopper, or if you’d like to know more about the role.

Retail Maxim is a mystery shopping company.

Tips for successful customer support

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.

Instant responses

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.

Privacy

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.

Be calm

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!

Mystery Shopping: FAQ

Mystery shopping provokes many questions: what it is to what the minimum age to become a mystery shopper is.

What is a mystery shopper?
Someone who is considered a mystery shopper will pose as a customer, all the while assessing the customer service they are receiving by the company or organisation.

How can I become a mystery shopper?
To apply for the position of a mystery shopper, you can view our criteria and apply for a position: Mystery Shopper Criteria

What does mystery shopping entail?
The role of a mystery shopper can be done via email, website survey, face to face visit or home visit.
It’s quite a lengthy list.
What about Telephone Mystery Shopping? Or better Video Mystery Shopping?

What type of person has the ability to become a mystery shopper?
The qualities that are sought out for when looking at potential mystery shoppers are exceptional memory skills, observational and writing skills.
Those who desire to be a mystery shopper must be committed to their work, should be flexible, have the ability to meet deadlines but must be enthusiastic and reliable also.

Can mystery shopping be a full-time profession?
It has yet to be done to make a full living out of a mystery shopper role, as assignments vary with locations and many clients can be specific, as an example, a client may require a female between the ages of 18 and 26 to go to a retail store.
Mystery shopping is perfect for someone who is looking for a side job earning them money.

Are there any disadvantages of becoming a mystery shopper?
There aren’t any disadvantages per say, although once as assignment has been set, it must by all means be seen through from start to finish, within the applied deadline.
Work must be done effectively and efficiently – it should never be revealed that you are a mystery shopper if you are suspected to be one.

Is there a minimum age of becoming a mystery shopper?
There is no official age limit for becoming a mystery shopper, although if you are given an assignment and you are under 18, permission will be required from a parent or guardian.

Do I need qualifications to become a mystery shopper?
To become a mystery shopper, you must be able to speak, read and write in English competently and must have exceptional grammar and punctuation skills for reports that will need to be written.
It is also quite beneficial for you to have access to a computer/laptop with internet and email.

For further information on mystery shopping and our services, do not hesitate to visit our website!