There have been many reports in the news lately about the High Street and how various retailers, such as House of Fraser, Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin (to name a few), are suffering from high street woes. But how has this news affected consumers?
Retailers have made it really easy to buy products online, as well as instore. However, how has this affected how consumers shop? Does it mean that shoppers are more likely to shop online? Read on to find out.
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:
What importance does mystery shopping hold today?
As we all know, mystery shopping is process of going into a physical store and evaluating the overall performance of the employees. The mystery shopper goes in pretending to be a simple shopper, visiting the store for the purpose of purchasing an item. This shopper is either employed by the store or an external company, assessing the employee performance and submitting a report.
There’s no specific requirements essential to become a mystery shopper, as you don’t need to hold a certain appearance, qualification or manner, you’re simply blending in with all of the other shoppers. Those who hold a massive flair and passion for the field will enhance the levels of customer service in the store and these people are requested highly in the service.
Although being a mystery shopper is incredibly fun, it’s good to remember that mystery shopping is still a serious business, one that’s clearly structured to aid the service of stores around the world. It’s important to hold a few traits in order to deal with the mystery shopping process, like reliability, professionalism and levels of trust you can offer a company. Apart from these traits, you should remember that shoppers should have a way of transportation, literate skills and good memory.
The stores that use mystery shopping are using this to massively boost their sales by improving their levels of customer satisfaction through improved customer service. Mystery shoppers are hired in order to increase the sales of the store by giving employees pointers on how to improve their performance. The service is not only useful for evaluating the performance of the staff, it’s also vital for checking the service available to customers from their business rivals. You can compare the two levels of customer service to find areas that need improvement or changing. This allows the problems to be rectified faster than usual, increasing the number of customers visiting the store through word of mouth recommendations, boosting the sales massively for businesses nationwide.
Before considering hiring a mystery shopping service, you should take a look at the existing level of service that’s already in place at the business. This will give you an insight into what needs boosting in your business, so doing your own research is good preparation for the shopping service. If you conduct an audit of the employees, you’ll be sure to receive a look into their work performance, but don’t tell them about the incoming mystery shopper service. Doing so will affect the results, as they’ll be extra alert in their service, causing inaccuracies in the findings.
So, what do you think? Would you be interested in a mystery shopping service?
If you are, please visit our website here or call us on 0844 875 5505 for more info!
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
Mystery shoppers can give you a service unlike no other, but why use it?
Mystery shoppers are, quite simply, those who carry out the services of improving customer service for companies across the world. Acting as a customer, they test the customer service department as some form of auditor. Mystery shoppers worldwide carry out tasks at the places of business, on a company’s website or simply over the phone.
Unlike most real customers, these mystery shopping professionals are trained to look for specific qualities in the customer service that they’re analysing. They measure the qualities in your customer service representatives, offering feedback on the level of customer service that they receive, giving suggestions that raise the bar on customer satisfaction levels.
With these handy tips below, we help you determine whether mystery shopping is a step in the right direction for your business:
What are the benefits of mystery shopping?
Before you sign up for a mystery shopping programme, you should consider what the benefits would be to your company. Work out what exactly you’d like to reap from the process. Some of the benefits of mystery shopping vary, but here’s what’s included:
• A different perspective! You’ll gain the ability to view your business through the eyes of the customer, learning just what your clients think of you at first impression. This is the only way to gain this perspective, as trying to gain this from someone within your company won’t convey as effectively.
• An overview of your customer service! A gifted mystery shopper can tell you what exactly works in your customer service programme and what doesn’t, allowing you to make the relevant changes.
• A spot on evaluation of what your customer service offers. Mystery shoppers will display whether your employees offer a valuable customer service experience, allowing your employees to earn the correct skills, providing a positive impression on your clients.
Mystery shoppers can accurately assess the state of your customer service, finding which area of your customer service should be corrected in your customer experience. This allows for you to fine tune any deficiencies that exist in your staff training.
Starting a mystery shopper program
Given the benefits above sound like something you’d wish to incorporate into your customer service experience, it’s time to start your mystery shopping program! Take these steps in order to get ready for the experience:
• Tell your employees that you are starting the program, just to make sure that they don’t feel blindsided after the program takes place. Tell them it’s not something they’re doing wrong, rather a training tool for could be used to raise the level of service offered by your staff.
• Discover what you want to get out of the mystery shopping service. Setting particular benchmarks will allow for you to monitor just how well your program is going.
• Find out which mystery shopping service will best meet all of your needs and budgets. For example, you can hire a larger company that can operate in a number of outlets nationwide but this isn’t exactly necessary if you have just one store.
Mystery shopping can be used as one of the most effective ways to evaluate your current state of customer service that’s available to your audience. A professional in the mystery shopper service will give your company guidance in ways to raise the standards of your employees, giving you a level of service that pleases all.
For more on mystery shopping programs, please visit our website.
Mystery Shoppers in the UK and what they do
Mystery Shoppers, for bigger corporations and retailers these mystery shoppers serve a massive purpose when it comes to finding out how much they really do value their customers. With great customer service becoming an absolute key these mystery shoppers are everyday looking employed people who come in-store and grade each store with ratings of their customer service.
How to become a Mystery Shopper
Becoming a mystery shopper isn’t as complex as you may think, in fact Retail Maxim specialises in mystery shopping and customer experience services. Throughout the UK thousands of individuals are required to help mystery shop in many outlets and they get paid to shop.. yes that’s right!
Here’s just a key factors we look for in people:
- Staying Calm
- Having a good memory
- Access to a camera device/scanner
Mystery Shoppers: The Benefits to Businesses
With customer service becoming a must in today’s retail sector the benefits to businesses are massive! Mystery shoppers are used to collect useful information and data across as many stores as required helping businesses gather a clear view on how their staff have been trained to aid any customers and their enquiries in the correct manor.
If you’re a business and you wish to find out how mystery shoppers and other services dedicated to providing you information on your company’s customer relations then head over to Retail Maxim for more information.
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 email@example.com. 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.