TalkShop

Ron Welty elected Vice President of Mystery Shopping Providers Association Board of Directors

Perrysburg, OH– Ron Welty, president of IntelliShop, a national mystery shopping and customer experience measurement firm, has been elected vice president of the board of directors for the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). The MSPA is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality, with over 400 member companies worldwide.

“I am really honored to continue my service on the MSPA board of directors, and to be elected vice president,” said Welty. “This is an exciting year for MSPA.  Business for our member companies is bouncing back very strongly, with clients seeking every advantage in measuring and improving their customer experiences.  I’m committed to helping spread the word so that even more clients will know the value that a mystery shopping program can bring to them, and why they should select an MSPA member for those programs.”

IntelliShop has been a member of the MSPA since 2000 and Welty has served on its Board of Directors for six years. The MSPA board of directors and its officers are elected annually by the full MSPA membership. The four officer positions – president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary – are also elected annually by the membership. For more information, visit http://www.mysteryshop.org/about/board.php

ABOUT INTELLISHOP: IntelliShop is a national mystery shopping and customer experience measurement firm dedicated to helping clients understand and improve what happens at the moment-of-truth with their customers. IntelliShop offers mystery shopping evaluations, video mystery shopping, customer satisfaction research, analytics and consultation, brand audits, and employee incentive programs. IntelliShop selects from a panel of more than 410,000 evaluators to help companies measure and improve their customer experiences onsite, on the phone, and on the web.  For more information, call 877-894-6349 or visit www.intelli-shop.com

ABOUT THE MSPA: The MSPA is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources. With over 400 member companies worldwide, its diverse membership includes companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services, as well as market research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, and training organizations. MSPA member companies work with their clients to establish mechanisms to measure and improve levels of service.  For more information visit www.mysteryshop.org

That’s Just The Way It Is

Bruce Hornsby famously sang, “That’s just the way it is. Some things will never change.” A younger generation of readers will recall those lyrics as they were sampled by 2pac some years ago, and the words are no less relevant now.

Dr. Chip Bell, an expert consultant on customer loyalty, has said that after a person is employed for about ninety days, he becomes blind to the details that his customers see. This accurately defines one primary function of mystery shoppers, but it also points out a risk that even mystery shoppers face.

When we become comfortable with our surroundings and the processes we go through, we fail to see where there is room for improvement. Businesses may miss simple ways in which they can improve the overall customer experience. That is one reason they will engage the services of a mystery shopping provider. Mystery shoppers can offer a fresh perspective and discover ways that the customer’s experience can be improved.

But be careful: many mystery shoppers take on a great number of assignments and repeat similar “shops” often. The risk with this approach is that they will simply complete assignment quickly without giving the full experience their undivided and focused attention. One way to prevent this and ensure a focused, meaningful evaluation every time is to frequently rotate mystery shoppers. IntelliShop’s Field Staff Coordinators (or Schedulers) strive to send a fresh pair of eyes almost every time a mystery shopper is sent on an assignment, especially when locations are visited frequently such as multiple times each month.

Thieves In Florida Provide A Better Customer Experience

An article in this week's Time Magazine describes how thieves are using more sophisticated techniques and technology for identity theft.  They steal ATM account numbers and PIN codes, then create new ATM cards and withdraw thousands of dollars from customers' accounts in a short amount of time.  Amazing, next-level thievery that we should all be careful to prevent (hint: use one hand to hide the other while entering your PIN).

The thing from this article that stuck with me, though, is that one set of thieves actually included a nice-looking, easy-to-read diagram of instructions for people on how to use their card in that ATM; the author said the bank's original facade didn't include those instructions.

What does it say about that bank's customer focus and experience that a ring of identity thieves provided the bank's customers with better information on how to use the ATM than the bank did?

Jump Start 2011 Sales & Staff Motivation

Want an easy way to jump-start your sales in 2011, while at the same time helping your associates and managers avoid or get out of the post-holiday blahs?  Run an upsell contest and reward your star performers.  Studies have shown that uspell contests measured using active mystery shopping programs can improve upsell percentages as much as 50% in a very short period of time. 

Whether you have stores, restaurants, branches, call centers, or other types of locations, you can use such programs to jump start sales this year, and also get your frontline people fired up and motivated.  Customer traffic is generally down in the January-March period, so not only is each customer more valuable now, but frontline associates and managers have more time to discuss each customer’s needs and offer additional products and services that they will find valuable; a greater share of the additional dollars they spend goes to profit because you have no additional sales & marketing or other overhead costs to obtain those.

Here are a few simple rules to improve your upselling success:

  • Make it of value to the customer, not generic and forced.  Very simple example: in a quick-serve restaurant setting, if a customer orders a salad, low-cal dressing and bottle of water, chances are they don’t want fries with that!  In a bank, someone interested in free checking may not want to know they can earn 0.3% on a $25,000 minimum CD, but they might want to know you have started offering “Christmas Club” savings plans again.  Conversion rates and customer loyalty will increase when customers believe they are being offered something of value, not just being asked to hand over more money.
  • Make it fun.  In most parts of the country, not only are we dealing with post-holiday syndrome (when is that drug coming out?!), but we’re also dealing with really depressing weather for the foreseeable future.  Create an upselling contest that promotes your locations to compete with each other, and you’ll build your company’s teamwork and culture while building sales.
  • Share the wealth.  Offer incentives to everyone at the winning location(s), not just one person.  Incentives don’t have to be budget-busters; the recognition itself is huge.  This will improve teamwork, bring out best practices from peer-to-peer, and improve your sales early in 2011!
  • Measure it. A mystery shopping company experienced in these programs can provide valuable coaching on how to develop and implement a program, measure its effectiveness, provide daily feedback on performance, analysis for where and how to improve, and consultation on how to make it stick for the long-term.

Customer Service Opportunities Are Everywhere

How many opportunities for providing good customer service are there in one simple store visit?  My wife Lori visited the local store of a national warehouse chain today, one she goes to often, and that she usually has a good experience at.  Today…not so much.  Among the things she wanted to buy (in addition to some garden hose, a 52” flat-screen TV, and a donkey cage – you really can get everything at these places!), was a rotisserie chicken for dinner; people around here rave about this store’s rotisserie chickens.

When she saw there were none in the case (opportunity 1: keep an eye on stock levels!), she found an associate and asked if they knew if they might have any (opportunity 2: associates should always watch for customers in need of assistance).

After looking at the empty case Lori had just pointed out, the associate’s reply was: “Well I guess we don’t have any more” (opportunity # 3: if you’re not going to go look for some, or ask someone else if they know, at least sound empathetic and apologize for being out of stock.  Next level: offer something else, to keep the sale).

Lori then pointed to a sign that read, “If we’re out of rotisserie chicken your next one is free”, and asked how she could get the free one.  She was told…wait for it… “we don’t do that anymore”.  (opportunity 4: don’t be obstinate with customers - where did she think she came up with this one?).  Lori turned the sign around so the associate could see it.  By this time a second associate had appeared to “assist”.  

The response (from the second associate)?  “Well, you’ll have to go up front and fill out a bunch of paperwork” (opportunity 5: make it easy for customers, especially in a service-recovery situation like this).  Nice assist.  I’m always amazed that so many people and companies miss this last point: you have to make it easy for customers to do business with you.  Customers have many options today, they are spending less, and they have less patience for poor service.  If you don’t make it easy, they have choices, and they will exercise them.  If they like the “other guy”, you may never see them again.

So, what may have seemed a simple store visit turned into a disaster, with at least five missed opportunities to provide a good customer experience.  Doing something for the customer during any one of these may have turned this situation around.  Handling all five with grace may have resulted in a great customer experience.  Customers are usually reasonable, but this many missed opportunities in one visit will absolutely cause them to take their business elsewhere.  The lesson here is: there are many opportunities for great customer experiences every day, every visit; take full advantage of each of them.