When You Need To Know It’s Right…Right Now!

Everything a business does plays a role in how a customer experiences their brand. For a business to meet a customer’s expectations - there are a multitude of factors that need to be set in place, at all times.

See, customer experience goes far beyond if your customer was greeted when they walked in your store. Yes, that is very important but is not the only thing customer’s take into consideration when determining to shop the brand...again. Think about the look and feel of your store. Are the sweaters folded properly on your shelves? Is the appropriate marketing signage displayed above the correct merchandise? Was the price tag easy to find on the clothing? Sometimes the littlest things like not being able to find the price tag can aggravate a customer and potentially turn them away.

A consumer can make strong opinions about your brand by how organized, clean and stocked your store is. That’s where merchandising audits can come into play.

The only way to know for sure that your merchandising is done correctly is to conduct regular audits. But, you can’t be everywhere and sending a manager from store to store can be expensive and inefficient. Merchandising audits enable you to get an in-depth look at the day-to-day details of your business’ operations, marketing, and more.

If done right, merchandising audits should be:

  1. Fast
  2. Customized
  3. Focused
  4. Detailed
  5. Impartial
  6. Flexible
  7. Cost effective

At IntelliShop, we can help you conduct fast and focused audits of any kind, including:

  • Closed store and De-branding Verifications
  • Quality Control and Operations
  • Brand Protection, Image and Appearance
  • Pricing & Merchandising
  • Franchise Compliance

Top Holiday Shopping Trends for 2018

So you’ve made it past the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday but what is there to say about the rest of this holiday season? Take a look at this holiday season’s top 5 shopping trends.

  1. Higher spending. While 87% of shoppers will be looking for for the best deals when it comes to places to shop, the greatest deals will also lead to higher overall spending. Plus, 36% of millennials are most likely to spend more money with a retailer known for great customer service. According to Forbes, holiday spending is projected to rise by 4.5% this season.
  2. Experiential gifting. About a third of shoppers plan to give gifts of experiences like wine tastings, travel, concerts, or craft classes instead or in addition to physical gifts.
  3. No more waiting. Long lines are one of the worst parts of holiday shopping. Taking on a new and customized approach to your checkout to reduce long lines and waiting may mean wonders to consumers looking to get in and out as soon as possible.
  4. Mobile marketing. With the projected increase in spends for this season, competition will be heavy for retailers. Consumers are no longer looking through piles and piles of ads. They are turning directly to their cell phones to search the hottest deals and best products. Refine your marketing tactics to a digital-centric experience and easily grab the attention of your consumers.
  5. Free shipping. This is a must. Nearly 61% of consumers say they will not complete an online purchase without securing free shipping first.

While these 5 major shopping trends for 2018 can be beneficial to increasing your revenue, each is greatly impacted by how your customer’s experience your brand. Providing great customer experiences during the busiest shopping time of the year will help your store stand out and in turn improve satisfaction, loyalty, and financial performance. Are you and your team ready to take on the rest of this holiday season?


5 Reasons Companies Implement An IntelliShop Mystery Shopping Program

Customer experience is more critical than ever to your success. Having information you can act on can help you uncover the exact actions you need to go from good to great.

Check out the top 5 reasons why companies implement an IntelliShop mystery shopping program to drive improved satisfaction, loyalty, and financial performance.

  1. Understand how customers experience your brand
    Mystery shopping is the best way to understand your business from your customers’ point of view at every touchpoint. 
  2. Identify people and best practices that make a difference
    Reports provide concrete, detailed insights needed to drive improved satisfaction, loyalty, and financial performance.
  3. Information you can act on
    Answers are never arbitrary ratings, and include highly detailed, story-like comments so customer understands the full customer experience.
  4. Quality, integrity, and analytics
    Every evaluation is checked with our 26-step integrity validation process. Results are analyzed, summarized, and provided in real time.
  5. Shoppers that match your customer demographic
    From our carefully screened pool of over 1 million evaluators across North America, we select people who think, act, and shop like your customers, so you get results you can trust.

The Making of an Effective Mystery Shopping Questionnaire

Intellishop exists to help our clients see their business through the eyes of their customers, and in so doing, find a road map to improvement.  At the most basic level, our process can seem simple and easy.

We send mystery shoppers to our clients’ businesses, have them gather information about the business, and then present that information to our clients in an easy-to-understand format.

On the surface, that may look like a straightforward task. In practice, achieving worthwhile results is a bit more complicated.

We define “worthwhile results” as actionable data that points out tangible ways for our clients to improve their business and the performance of their employees. Uncovering that actionable data takes careful steps, including a serious, focused design process for the questions contained in the mystery shopping questionnaire.

How does questionnaire design lead to actionable data?

Our design process starts with objectifying every question. While many other companies focus primarily on yes/no questions, Intellishop takes a tier-option approach to every piece of data we’re trying to clarify.

Here’s a simple example:  most mystery shopping questionnaires include a fairly standard question about interactions with employees. Most companies will ask their mystery shoppers to answer yes or no to a question resembling “was the employee you spoke with friendly?” This question is flawed. Upwards of 95% of mystery shoppers will answer that question with a “yes” unless they had an exceptionally bad experience.

This data doesn’t deliver actionable insight. The question must be designed in such a way that it probes deeper. An Intellishop questionnaire would ask the question this way: “How would you describe the employee’s performance? Would you describe it as truly exceptional, as expected, or needs improvement?”

With our design, clients immediately have a straightforward path to success. They’ll be able to take concrete steps toward moving their employees from “meets expectations” to “exceptional.”

Questionnaire design should be an adaptive process

Structuring questions this way is the only dependable way to find actionable data. Cookie cutter yes/no questions simply can’t give businesses the information they need to make meaningful changes. 

As you consider the steps you’re taking to improve your business, consider what mystery shopping companies may have done to help you understand the areas in which you can improve. Did their data bring positive changes to your business? Could you clearly see areas where you needed improvement? Did they help you understand how you could work with your employees to improve your scores?

If not, it’s possible you may not have gotten the actionable data that can help your business reach the next level. A questionnaire design process that adapts to your business’s unique characteristics is the right solution for finding the data you need. 

Post Training Strategies:  Use Mystery Shopping to Know What’s Sticking.

By Greg Dale, Senior Director, Client Development

Well trained employees are clearly a major priority for American companies. In 2016, U.S. employers spent more than $70 billion on employee training programs, and more than 40% of that training involved an instructor working with employees individually or in a group setting.

For companies with many locations, tackling this priority is more complex. It’s one thing to train employees on how you want them to interact with customers. It’s another to make sure the training is actually being implemented.

Are you sure your training is taking effect throughout your company’s locations? How do you know that your investment is turning into action?

Mystery shopping can provide those answers. A recent study of the banking industry shows how.

We discovered that bank employees aren’t executing their training

Banks big and small have similar goals in every customer interaction, and most trainers will be giving their staff similar lessons at financial institutions of all sizes.

But our studies revealed that this teaching isn’t always reaching the customer. We dispatched 120 mystery shoppers to banks and credit unions across the country, asking them to evaluate account representatives on more than two dozen individual performance attributes. Here’s what we found. 

Most sales trainers teach their staff to ask for the sale at every opportunity, and that’s certainly what bank trainers teach. Generally, bigger banks are getting close to the mark, too. 84% of staff at big banks asked for a sale, but that still leaves almost one in five conversations where there was no sale question. Smaller banks and credit unions fared much worse: staff asked a closing question less than 60% of the time.

Beyond primary sales goals, increasing cross-sales is a significant interest, but our mystery shoppers found that staff at banks of all types are doing a poor job of cross-selling products. Only about half of the staff at big banks asked if our shoppers were interested in an additional product. That figure was even lower for smaller banks and credit unions, where just 20% and 17% of staff actively cross-sold products.

At the very least, trainers will teach their staff to ask customers for personal contact information for follow-up purposes, typically in the form of an email conversation. But only 36% of our shoppers were asked for any contact information at all, and only 8% were asked to provide an email address.

How post-training mystery shopping adds value to your training

In each of these situations, the staff’s failure to follow the training causes two significant problems for the banks and credit unions we studied.

First, the staff missed out on sales opportunities by failing to close and cross-sell. They also missed out on future opportunities for sales by failing to gather contact information for later follow-up conversations. The staff almost literally left money on the table through these errors.

Second, each of these failures also represents a missed opportunity to increase customer satisfaction with the bank. While cross-selling obviously increases a bank’s bottom line, it also can meet another customer need through an additional product, and follow-up conversations can lead to more opportunities to serve each customer in a more precise way.

These failures aren’t limited to banks. Companies of all kinds could easily fall into similar patterns, and without diligently studying the interactions between your staff and your customers, you may not have an adequate understanding of what results your training is producing.

Using mystery shopping shows in precise detail how well your staff is following your sales training, information that could mean the difference between a good investment of time and money and a wasted opportunity.