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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Call centers are notorious for being frustrating to the people who have to avail themselves of the service. In fact, ask many customers the most frustrating thing about dealing with, say, the local cable company, airline, or computer software, and they’ll say it’s calling customer support. The call center reps (CCRs) aren’t always knowledgeable, or they’re in a rush to get a caller off the line, or the hold times are too long.

But while the call center managers may be aware of the problems and are working with the day to day operations to solve the problem, management may not be aware of the problem. This is where mystery shoppers can let you know what’s going on. Rather than focusing on individual calls or looking at larger trends, mystery shoppers can find instances of problems that might be symptoms of bigger issues.

Call center reps answering customer calls.Mystery shoppers can call in either posing as customers, or you can even find shoppers who might already be customers. For example, cable companies can hire mystery shoppers in a specific coverage area and ask them to call in for a problem, such as “my Internet is down” or “my DVR is acting weird.” This way, the CCRs can speak to actual customers and not someone who’s not actually in the system.

Mystery shoppers can also pose as new customers who want to sign up for a new account or want to buy your product or service. And they can even ask that their accounts be closed down. This is a good way to measure the performance of the people who try to persuade cancellers to continue their subscriptions.

Mobile feedback surveys and text surveys can help call centers

Finally, as I said, mystery shoppers can help you find symptoms of problems. While it might be a common practice at most call centers to keep calls short and push to get callers off the line, that doesn’t mean the callers’ problems were solved.

Mobile feedback surveys and text surveys can help you find this out: just send surveys to customers and ask them pointedly, “Did your call center rep solve your problem for you?” or “Do you feel you got enough time and attention from your call center rep?”

(However, it’s important that your CCRs not ask for high ratings. That skews the results and makes them ineffective because it puts pressure on the customers and may make them give higher or lower ratings.)

Mystery shopping for call centers can be an important tool in measure the call centers’ effectiveness, just as important as caller surveys and the call center managers’ listening in on phone calls. Your customers’ satisfaction is much more important than whether your CCRs are getting off the line in 90 seconds or less. To learn how Measure CP can use mystery shopping to help call centers, please visit our website. You can ask to speak to one of our mystery shopping experts and learn more about building a shopping program that will suit your particular call center and current practices.

Photo credit: PGBS (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

If you operate a bookstore, whether it’s a small independent bookshop or a large chain of bookstores, mystery shoppers can let you know whether you’re meeting all your goals and expectations for performance and customer satisfaction.

While you can accomplish this through customer surveys, keep in mind that 1) very few people take customer surveys, and it will take a while to amass enough responses to get meaningful results, and 2) you’re likely to get more complaints than positive responses, which can skew the total survey results. Rather than balanced or even positive skew results, the complaints may make it look like the bookstore is totally failing and just needs to be shut down.

This the problem when you rely on surveys to deliver your customer experience results: bad data in means bad results coming out.

This is also where mystery shoppers can show you what the surveys can’t.

Use mystery shoppers to assess your bookstore's customer experience.For one thing, mystery shoppers are completely objective. They aren’t reporting only on good experiences or bad experiences. They’re telling you what they experienced. But you can’t just rely on one or two shoppers to paint the total picture. Get several in there each month and look for patterns and trends.

You can also find out who your top performing employees are. Rather than just looking for employees who make mistakes, use the mystery shoppers to help you find the people who excel and do well. Of course, you’ll also want to look for training opportunities for the people who need work, but don’t just use mystery shoppers as a gotcha form of discipline.

If you operate a large bookstore chain and have to cover a lot of properties, you may want to focus several mystery shoppers on a specific region for a time. This can give you an idea of what you should be looking for in the rest of the country, and establish a baseline for what you can expect.

You can ask mystery shoppers to do a number of things and have the results reported right back to you via the mystery shopping app or dashboard:

  1. How clean are the bathrooms and the general store area?
  2. Are the shelves neatly arranged and stacked? Are books put away properly?
  3. Are things easy to find? Is the signage clear and easy to understand?
  4. Ask the shopper to ask for a book you don’t carry. Did the sales associate offer to order it? (Ask them to order it too.) How easy is it to get that done?
  5. Were the associates friendly and helpful? Were they knowledgeable about the books you asked them to find?

Mystery shopping at a bookstore is like any other business: you want to make sure your customers have a good experience, that your staff is knowledgeable, and that your facilities are clean and well-presented. This is something Measure CP can help you do.

To learn more about using mystery shoppers in your bookstore, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our mystery shopping experts to create your own program.

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

A lot of times, mystery shopping is used to find problems companies are having, to correct any shortcomings they may have. But what about using mystery shopping as a way to find employees who are doing good work and rewarding them?

A typical mystery shopping program involves a shopper visiting a business, like a restaurant, wireless store, or even a gas station or service station, and then ordering food, visiting the bathroom, noting the general cleanliness of the place, and whether the employee smiled and was courteous.

Many restaurants see this as the bare minimum level of acceptable, and they’re more noted for what they aren’t. The food isn’t terrible, the bathrooms and dining area aren’t dirty, and the employees aren’t surly. As long as diners can have a predictable and reliable experience, they’re satisfied with what they get, as long as the meal isn’t terrible.

But some restaurants, hotels, and other businesses pride themselves on providing an over-the-top, wonderful experience. Disney World and Disneyland come to mind. Fancy, fine dining restaurants come to mind. Even Chick-fil-A comes to mind, because their employees are polite, courteous, and always smile. They always say “my pleasure” every time you say thank you (you do say thank you, don’t you?). And they go out of their way to make sure your Chick-fil-A experience is better than any other fast food experience you could have

This is where a mystery shopping program could catch people doing something right. You could always say that Chick-fil-A has just raised their minimum performance levels, but what if they instead wanted shoppers to find those standout employees? Who were the ones who really stood out as being friendly and helpful? Who helped you figure out a complicated order? Who offered to get you a refill while you were dining in the restaurant, or brought your order out to you?

I have a pet peeve about some places, like a coffee shop, where they have a station to put the drinks, which is on the opposite end of where you’re sitting. Rather than bring the drink over to your end of the counter, they take it to the opposite end, call your name, and then watch you walk all the way down to that end of the counter. That is a Minimum Performance Level. The baristas I like will walk to my end of the counter or even bring the drink out to me. I continue to support those businesses and don’t go to the ones that are satisfied with the Minimum Performance.

And if I were doing a mystery shopping visit for those coffee shops, I would certainly want to highlight those baristas who took the extra step and made sure I had a satisfactory experience at the store. Even that little service of bringing my coffee to my end of the counter is notable and makes me appreciate them that much more.

Bottom line: If you want to do more than just squeak by in customer satisfaction, if you want to offer more than just “meh, I guess it wasn’t terrible,” then you should look for the employees who do good work. While you can find them on your own, if you’ve got more than one location, you’ll have trouble making that all work. This is where a mystery shopping program can make a big difference.

To learn more about how to use a mystery shopping program in your businsess, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our restaurant mystery shopping experts and get your questions answered.

Photo credit: Wild Bill (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Have you ever heard the term “chatbots?” Do you understand what it means?

It’s basically a bot — a small computer program that acts like a human — that can have a conversation with you. It’s sort of like the old Eliza computer program you could have a conversation with. You would ask it a question or make a statement, and it would repeat back to you in a way.

You: I’m sad? Eliza: Why are you sad? You: I’m sad because my car wouldn’t start. Eliza: Why wouldn’t your car start?

And so on. She never really answered your questions, you did. Sort of like therapy. In fact, if you listen to the Radiolab podcast episode where they talk about Eliza, you can hear a few stories of people just pouring their hearts out to Eliza, even knowing she was a computer program.

Well, chatbots work like that, but they’re a little more sophisticated than Eliza was 30 years ago.

Bots can be a part of a mobile feedback mystery shopping program. Picture of a hand holding a phone near a computer.People use chatbots in financial institutions, asking questions about account balances or moving money around. The travel industry uses them for booking flights and hotels, as well as checking on flight status. They’re used in customer service, answering questions on certain websites that you visit. (You didn’t really think Kevin was actually online waiting for you to online chat with him at 2:00 AM, did you?)

So why not use chatbots as part of your mystery shopping?

Chatbots, or any kind of bot, use artificial intelligence and machine learning to plow through large piles of data, as well as examine past conversations to learn how they’re supposed to answer. In that sense, chatbots can help themselves grow and learn.

(Just, you know, make sure there’s an easy-to-reach off switch so we’re not all fighting an army of Geico Insurance terminator robots in the next five years.)

The great thing about using chatbots for mystery shopping is that you can use them to engage customers as part of a mobile feedback system.

For example, when asking customers for feedback, you can ask them to provide more detailed information, such as something they specifically liked about their experience, or something they did not. And if there are important details missing in an answer, the chatbot can prompt the customer to give more information.

They can also use pre-determined/canned responses to get customers to provide additional feedback — “That sounds interesting. Tell me more.” And they can even be used to turn around and encourage people to follow up with another visit — “It sounds like you had a good time. Would you like to schedule another reservation in a few weeks?”

They can even be used as a part of a phone survey system, where the bot asks questions, receives spoken answers, and then translate that into quantitative data that can be further studied.

Bots can even handle simple conversations, such as making reservations or handling customer satisfaction surveys so you don’t need to use up your staff time to do it. If you wanted to do a phone survey of 1,000 people, you’re limited by the number of people you can hire to do this sort of work. But with a chatbot, you can double and triple your biggest number of staff members and still do the surveys in a fraction of the time.

If you would like to learn how to use bots as a mystery shopping solution, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our mobile feedback experts to help you develop your own mystery shopper program for your own business.

Photo credit: John Jackson (Pexels.com, Creative Commons 0)

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

I read recently where Indian Railways are going to begin using mystery shoppers as a way to check on the quality of their services.

In a “first-of-its-kind step,” mystery shoppers will pose as regular train passengers in order to check the service standards provided by the national railway.

Since train travel is a major source of transportation — many countries have more extensive and usable public transportation than the United States — and because they provide so many other services like food and beverages, Indian Railways is setting up the mystery shopper program.

Upper Deck of Lucknow Double Decker Express in India. Indian Railways will begin using mystery shoppers soon to check their services.According to an article in the Financial Express, the shoppers will “. . . secretly check the standards of services being provided by the national transporter, including food, staff behaviour, amenities for passengers, quality of trains and of railway stations.”

The passengers will also check the railway’s passenger interface, including the trains and railway stations, plus I imagine, the ticket sales. They’ll be rated on predetermined parameters, and those results will be uploaded to the Railway Board’s web-based dashboard for review and any corrective action.

The Railway Board is still hammering out a lot of the policy details, including how many mystery shoppers they will use (right now, they’re discussing whether to start with 50), although there are currently more than 40,000 daily inspections at all levels, including surprise checks.

But — and this is where using mystery shoppers are important — people behave differently when there are known inspections taking place. Just like store and restaurant employees will be on their best behavior when the manager is around, but may slack off a bit when the manager is gone, I’m sure these railway employees will behave differently when they know a regular inspection is occurring.

Since the identities of these mystery shoppers will be kept a secret — that’s why it’s a mystery, folks! — the Indian Railways employees can never be sure whether they’re being checked. As a result, the staff will hopefully practice better behavior since they can never be sure whether they’re being watched or not.

Measure CP provides mystery shopping services for all kinds of businesses, from restaurants to retail stores, from gas and service stations to car dealers. If you ever need mystery shoppers for your own transportation agency, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our experts to help you develop your own mystery shopper program for your own business.

Photo credit: Zahaib.m (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0 & GNU Free Documentation License)

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Thirty years ago, marketers only had two choices when they wanted to understand what their customers liked: complaint cards and mystery shopping. And even then, those selections were so limited and the information gathering techniques were so basic, you couldn’t be sure whether you were getting the most accurate information.

Let’s start with the complaint cards. With the name alone, we’re already biased toward what that card should be used for: so people can gripe and complain about how they didn’t like something or their experience was terrible. Some people called them comment cards, but no one ever seemed to do anything but complain on them.

I’m not saying that’s not important or valid, but imagine being a restaurant or store owner, and the only time you ever hear from people is when they want to complain about you. Imagine if Yelp were only for one- and two-star reviews, and that gives you an idea of what restaurant managers must have gone through in the 1970s.

Nowadays, we have more choices for customer feedback. Not only do we have customer satisfaction surveys (the nicer, more pleasant name for “complaint cards”), but those can be done online rather than filled out in the store or restaurant. Plus, invitations to complete the surveys are usually shared on purchase receipts, although they can be sent via email or text messages. Some restaurants will even promise a free item, such as a free cookie (Subway) or a Buy One, Get One Free sandwich (McDonald’s).

Speaking of mobile phones, the text survey is one form of mobile feedback. I’ve also seen text messages and emails sent from places where I made purchases on a Square or similar credit card processing app. When my receipt is emailed to me, there is often a survey accompanying it.

The survey is usually just a question and two options: “How did we do?” followed by a smiley face and a frowny face. Click the option that best reflected your experience, and you will be taken to a website for a short, 4-question survey.

Another type of mobile feedback is usually given through a business’ app where you can ask customers to fill out a short survey and even upload a photo of their receipt as proof of their purchases. Or you can ask customers to scan a QR code at your business, and have them taken immediately to your mobile feedback site where they can answer your questions.

Mobile feedback is a regular part of measuring customer satisfaction these days. Gone are the comment cards and “I’d like to speak to a manager” complaints. Now, you can solicit negative and positive feedback from people and get a better idea of what people are happy with and what they don’t like.

If you’re interested in learning about mobile feedback and customer satisfaction surveys, please visit our website and or contact us and speak to one of our experts about what we can do for you.

If you’re interested, we have a white paper on the benefits of mobile surveys and mobile feedback that you can peruse at your convenience.

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

We published a couple of videos on mobile feedback for mystery shopping and brand audits a few years ago. While the technology may have changed — mobile phones have better cameras, you can slip them in your pockets, and we’ve even got some video spyglasses we use on some of our shops — the principles are still the same: mobile feedback is a great way to get immediate, real-time feedback from your customers.

Mobile feedback survey in Persian. Every good retailer is worried about their customer experience, no matter where in the world they are.You can send them a text survey as they pay their bill, and give them two or three very short questions, as well as a chance to leave comments. Your customers can take photos, respond to surveys, and even leave voice comments. It’s even a good way to get someone to make a complaint that you’ll hear directly, rather than expending most of their angry energy on Yelp or Google Reviews.

When we first developed the mobile feedback program, smartphones were just starting to enter the market, and a lot of people were still using flip phones or “dumb phones.” But the newer technology lets them do so much more.

To learn more about mobile feedback and what it can do for your business, please contact us to request a quote or to speak with one of our mystery shopping sales professionals.

Photo credit: Merhad77 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Protecting investments comes in many forms. For hospitality and dining, ensuring identification and compliance checks are constantly safeguarding liquor licenses provides continuity in catering to patrons’ needs and hitting sales targets. All too often, establishments serving alcohol fail to recognize that training bartenders and servers with real world scenarios helps prep them for stings and audits, preventing unnecessary fines.

While training programs define company cultures and expectations, those can be difficult for management to observe and verify in high-volume locations or when staffing is light. Even seasoned employees make errors. Having a second set of eyes providing training feedback and giving age compliance insights can help businesses stay compliant with state and federal laws. Utilizing objective outside resources can capture the guest experience and verify compliance.

Instead of only having state alcohol compliance checks alerting you about deficiencies, launching internal age compliance checks provides you with another channel for identifying opportunities before they become penalties. By giving your business a buffer and additional layer of insights, you can identify training gaps and prescribe a remedy before encountering a costly mistake. Having a system in place to verify follow-up, action, and resolution are equally essential and should work in tandem with your program.

In addition to internal alcohol compliance checks, tighten the cork by confirming that measured pours are happening without losses and inventory depletion. While maintaining a liquor license is critical, verifying pour accuracy can prevent unnecessary waste and make sure patrons receive a properly prepared beverage. Over-pouring can add up quickly, resulting in unexpected shrink.

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Customer Experience Management is crucial in order to turn first-time customers into repeat customers, and even loyal fans.

When a customer’s experience is poor or marked with mistakes and poor quality, he or she is less likely to recommend the business to his or her friends – and every good marketing student knows that word-of-mouth advertising is some of the most effective advertising a business can get. Destroy that and it will destroy a business’ reputation.

It is not hard to find a business that is mediocre at customer experience management. Many consumers are willing to try a new business, product, or service that offers lower prices than the competition. However, if they have a terrible time, they will not only NOT return, but even warn away everyone they can.

There are plenty of businesses that succeed with positive customer experience management. If a customer is unhappy with one business, there is always another that is willing to try harder with a better product and service. So the secret to a successful business is not only a good product or service, but effective customer experience management.

Good customer experience management will often surprise many customers, which is unfortunate, because one would hope it would be the opposite: people would rather be surprised by a poor experience, not a good one.

Good customer experience management can even save a business money. It is a common business adage that it costs more to attract new customers than it is to keep old ones. It takes advertising and marketing to bring in new customers. It takes specials and coupons. It takes a lot of hard work, all to bring in customers. So it doesn’t make sense to provide poor customer service and turn them away. But many businesses spend a lot of their time and money trying to win new customers, but never pay attention to any customer experience management tactics that can keep those customers coming back.

But by focusing on good customer experience management, loyal customers will return again and again. They do not have to be enticed with coupons and specials, marketing and advertisements, and other things that cost money. By reducing those marketing costs, it increases the business’ sales margins and profits.

Finally, a positive customer experience management focus can increase traffic through word-of-mouth marketing. That is, the happier a customer is, the more likely he or she is to tell friends about the great time they had. Their friends will be more interested in trying out the restaurant or store, and traffic will still increase.

The only cost to the business manager was making sure the customer was happy and had a good time. No expensive newspaper or magazine ads, no radio or TV commercials, and no wasting time and resources putting those things together. By just making sure the business is run well and that people are happy is enough to keep old customers coming back and new people coming in.

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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

How much do you know about the customer perspective of your business? If you spend time reading online reviews of your company on Google, Yelp or other websites, you may find some helpful information about what your business does well and what your business does better. But it takes a lot of work to find truly valuable information this way, since the majority of customers do not spend time writing online reviews. And although not all customers write reviews, anyone who visits your business will have a customer perspective that influences whether they’ll continue shopping with you or will go to a competitor.Successful Business People Showing Thumbs Up.

So, what is the customer perspective of your business? For better or for worse, perception is reality when it comes to your company’s customer perspective. There are lots of ways to gather information into what the customer perspective of your business is. Besides gathering online reviews, you could conduct focus groups, or ask customers to fill out paper or online surveys. These methods of researching customer perspective can be beneficial, but they are time consuming to execute. Also, there are many important details to consider regarding how questions are phrased and the timing of when you’re asking customers to share their perspectives. Those details may cause customers to unknowingly give biased feedback if the questions aren’t asked at exactly the right time, right place, and in the right manner.

To get the best picture of your company’s customer perspective, consider using a mystery shopping program. Mystery shopping programs first take time to understand the nuances of your business. To get a truly unbiased look at the customer perspective of your business, a mystery shopping program focuses on what an optimal shopping experience at your business should be like. How should your location look, on both the inside and outside of the storefront? How should employees be dressed, and what should they say to customers? Is the signage at your business clear? Is the layout of your location functional for both employees and customers? Is the speed of customer service what it should be?

A mystery shopping looks at all these qualities, and more. The first step in working with a mystery shopping program is the analysis. The mystery shopping provider will analyze your company’s operations and discovers what the customer experience should be like. Gaining knowledge of what a business owner wishes the customer perspective of the business to be is the best way to set benchmarks for improvement. The second step in working with a mystery shopping program is the actual mystery shopping experience. The program will send certified mystery shoppers into your business who are fully educated on the DNA of your operation. The mystery shoppers will report on how your processes and protocols are being followed, identifying what went well and what could be improved upon. The mystery shopping program mirrors the actual shopping experience, allowing the mystery shoppers to gain an unbiased view of the customer perspective. The third step in working with a certified mystery shopping program is the analysis of results. When you partner with a mystery shopping program, it will be impossible to gain a true picture of the customer perspective of your business if you don’t fully understand the results. Instead of being buried in numbers, make sure you partner with a mystery shopping program who helps you interpret the findings, showing you patterns of behavior and opportunities for growth.

In addition to gaining an honest and unbiased customer perspective of your organization, there are other benefits your business can gain from working with a mystery shopping program. You’ll be able to clearly determine customer satisfaction levels for your organization and can set benchmarks for improving customer perspective. Having a better understanding of the customer’s perspective of your business can also help you increase profits, because you’ll be able to alter the operations of your business in the ways that your customers will appreciate and respond to. You will gain a better understanding of your company’s competitive strengths and weaknesses, and you can identify solutions to problems within your company before they spiral out of control. Mystery shopping also helps you confirm the integrity of your employees, as well as determining if your company procedures and internal controls are effective and are being followed. Because your business likely has limited resources when it comes to training and continuing the education of employees, a mystery shopping program can show you the areas in which you need to focus in order to improve operations and customer service, and thus improve customer perspective. Overall, the real benefit of working with a mystery shopping program is that the results will help you gain a clear picture of the customer perception of your business. Since customer perception affects so many other aspects of your business, knowing the customer perspective can help you improve your business and continue growing your success.

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

The landscape of customer service is changing these days, especially given the continually growing popularity of instant communication tools like Facebook and Twitter.

But pressure to be ever present in certain communication spheres means there are also a lot of companies missing the mark on responding to customer service matters. They may not respond to a letter or phone call from a regular customer, for example, but they’ll immediately grease the squeaky wheel of an angry Twitter user who takes to kvetching online.

You’d think customer service would improve overall with the increased prevalence of social media if a company saw the effect their quick actions and attention could have on customers’ happiness.

But you’d be wrong.

Call center — they may use Klout, but shouldn't base their level of service on a Klout score.

Call center (Photo credit: Walt Jabsco)

There’s a lot of talk about reaching out to “influencers” now. Many businesses go out of their way to throw events for bloggers, offer special perks to people who might talk them up online, and have the customer service department respond only to their most influential social media followers.

Klout Should Not Sway Customer Service

It comes down to Klout versus clout. The biggest mistake here lies in a company mistaking a so-called online “influencer” for someone with true influence in their community. The two are not always correlated.

Here’s a quick example of why this isn’t always the smartest route: My friend and his wife both have Klout accounts — he has a high score, hers is pretty average — and they recently bought a car together. They had a great experience at the dealership, and both gushed to their networks about how well they were treated. The next weekend, two friends of my friend’s wife headed back to the same dealership and bought brand-new cars.

But, if the dealership were to only look at Klout scores to decide whether to elevate any complaints up the customer service chain, they would pick the higher Klout score, but end up alienating the person with the higher real-life clout.

Now, this isn’t a typical outcome, but there’s also no guarantee that someone with a ton of online “influence” will create an outcome like this either.

The bottom line: Someone with Klout can have no clout in their community, and vice versa. The successful businesses will remember that every customer is important and the customer service department should attend to everyone’s needs equally.

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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

English: Samsung S5600 mobile phone.

English: Samsung S5600 mobile phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using mobile feedback as a marketing and customer experience management tool gives business owners an edge on those owners that are still relying on satisfaction cards handed out at the end of a meal or visit to a store, or worse, not measuring customer satisfaction at all.

Mobile feedback gives business owners immediate feedback, because customers receive surveys on their mobile phones as soon as they request them (they can be requested by texting a short code to a specific number). These surveys are typically four questions long, and recipients usually answer them as soon as they receive them.

This does three things for the business owner: First, it gives them immediate feedback on each question — no waiting for survey cards to be dropped off. Second, the results are instantly tabulated. Since each survey is calculated by computer, trends can be spotted before they become a serious problem. Third, mobile feedback surveys have a higher response rate than survey cards, because people are continually using their phones, so they will think nothing of answering a short survey.

So what can businesses do with this mobile feedback?

For one thing, they can identify problem areas. For example, a restaurant’s mobile feedback survey can include data about their server. The manager notices that one server continues to get very high marks, so she puts her on the busiest shifts, knowing she will provide better satisfaction. Meanwhile, she also notices that a veteran server continues to get lower marks, which lowers the customer’s overall satisfaction. She can move him to a less busy shift, provide additional training, or just let him go, since his poor attitude could be a liability to the restaurant.

Businesses can also focus on a specific area for a short amount of time. A gas station is running a seasonal special, such as a 30% discount on a car wash for every fill-up. A mobile feedback survey can let the gas station manager know about the quality of the car wash, how well received the offer was, and whether people will continue to come back to the gas station as a result.

Mobile feedback surveys can even help businesses promote themselves. A common question on most mobile feedback surveys is to ask whether a customer would recommend the business to friends, but most businesses fail to take the next step.

So why not include a question asking them to do that, with a place to give their friend’s mobile number? Text a quick mobile coupon to the friend and a message saying they have been invited by the customer to visit. Businesses can increase their traffic without any additional costs, with the help of their customers.

Mobile feedback is more than just a customer satisfaction tool. They are used for specific problem areas, like staff friendliness and quality of special offers, as well as additional marketing at a lower cost and better response rate than card surveys.

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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Sometimes a good customer experience is not worth putting up with the hassle of bad or poorly-behaved customers. Sometimes you’re better off excising a bad customer because of all the damage they can do to your atmosphere, your clientele, and even your brand.

We’ve all seen some obnoxious people in the past, and the problem only seems to be getting worse. The rise of anger in this country seems to be locked in with the feelings of righteous indignation people have, and one always leads to the expression of the other.

So it’s pretty bad when you have customers like that in your store. The inclination for most business owners when dealing with an angry customer is to appease them, fix the problem, make it right, and rescue the positive customer experience.

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what about when the customer is just a complete jerk, is never happy with any solution, and continues to be a pain in the ass, no matter what you do? Now, they’re bringing down everyone’s customer experience whenever they walk in the door.

Whether it’s the customer who’s rude to the barista, or the shopper who whines at the retail salesperson, or the diner who yells loudly at the wait staff because the spicy beef they ordered was spicy, you sometimes need to tell the customer that you don’t need the business that badly. They’re making the customer experience unpleasant for everyone else, and by keeping them around, you’re in danger of losing those customers instead.

Take the customer aside, speak to them quietly, but firmly, and tell them that they will no longer be allowed in your establishment. While it may seem more satisfying to publicly and loudly berate the customer, keep in mind that while the other customers may appreciate it, they may wonder if it will ever happen to them too. And that can cast a pall over the entire customer experience for a good long while.

For a better customer experience all around, don’t let bad customers or unpleasant customers ruin your atmosphere and the goodwill you have from your better-behaved customers. Eliminate the rude customers and create a more positive environment and customer experience for everyone else.

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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Understanding customer perspective can be the make-it-or-break-it factor in your customer experience management plan. But only if you have the most accurate, truest understanding of the real customer perspective.

Focus groups are not able to completely provide that perspective. While focus groups are effective, and can give market researchers an insight into their customer mindset, they do not always provide the most complete picture.

It has been our experience that there are panelists — professional focus group members, really — who get rewarded, incented, or paid to be a part of a focus group and professional survey taker for large market research companies.

Broadwater Focus Group

This isn’t actually the kind of focus group we’re referring to. We’re sure they’re nice people. Broadwater Focus Group (Photo credit: Nebraska Library Commission)

While focus groups can work, because you can do some demographic slicing and dicing to get people who meet certain profiles, these people are on a panel for a single reason: to get paid.

They get paid for a few hours of their time to sit in a room with other people, and discuss and debate every subtle nuance of a company’s marketing campaign, product offering, or service enhancements, sometimes getting into details that regular customers will never see or consider. This is a skewed version of the customer perspective.

We’re not saying focus groups are bad, but they shouldn’t be the only thing in a market researcher’s arsenal. There’s also social media (you can measure sentiment analysis with social media monitoring tools), mobile feedback and text surveys (hear from the greatest number of actual customers to get the most statistically-accurate customer perspective), and even mystery shopping (get unbiased feedback from people who live the customer perspective, and know what to look for).

If you want to get a clear picture of your customer perspective, focus groups are fine to use, but should not be the only tool in the toolbox There are at least three other viable forms of customer market research that can also give you a glimpse into the minds of your customers. Take full advantage of all of them.

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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Mystery shoppers work for a great many service industries and fields. One area where mystery shoppers can provide valuable feedback and information is the airline industry. Airlines are often in need of more feedback beyond regular customer complaints and measuring take off and landing times. Here are a few reasons why airlines should consider working with mystery shoppers on a more regular basis.

1. Mystery Shoppers Can Provide Unbiased Feedback About Staff Performance

Too often, the only time airlines hear from customers is when the customers have a complaint. So the airlines know all too well when people are not happy. But those complaints are not always accurate. People tend to inflate their outrage if they think it will help them get better service, or if they want to hurt an airline’s reputation. And what about all those times people were perfectly happy with their travel, and said nothing?

Mystery shoppers can give an unbiased look at a trip through the eyes of a traveler and let the airlines know what a trip was really like. They can report on flight attendant performance, cleanliness of the facilities, and whether in-flight calls for assistance were answered.

2. Mystery Shoppers Can Check On Competitors

Picture of a TAM Flight Attendant working.

Picture of a TAM Flight Attendant working. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Airlines can check out the competition with the help of mystery shoppers. By working with a mystery shopping agency, they can send shoppers to other airlines to see how they are performing. They can see how the airlines do in different service areas, and either seek to match or even improve on what the competition is doing. This lets airlines remain competitive, while still ensuring their own passengers are satisfied.

3. Mystery Shoppers Can Ensure Airline Staff Follow Proper Procedures

There is an old saying in the mystery shopping industry that “when the cat is away, the mice will play.” In other words, when management is around, the staff is on their best behavior. But a mystery shopper is not known, and so they can gather more accurate information. Are staff doing the appropriate walkthroughs? Are they serving beverages and snacks? Are the pilots providing periodic updates? While the FAA places inspectors on flights to find more of the detailed and industry-specific information, there may be some airline-specific requirements that mystery shoppers are able to observe.

Working with a mystery shopping agency is an important way for airlines to know they are doing the best work possible: they get unbiased feedback, they can see how the competition is doing, and they can ensure that all airline staff are following the company rules and even governmental regulations.

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Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

The term “consumer experience” is often bandied about like some throwaway management jargon term, quick to be replaced by next season’s “better” term. But, that’s the wrong way to view it. It’s not just a buzzword or nebulous concept that doesn’t actually mean anything. Customer experience is an important piece of your business or marketing plan that you cannot afford to ignore.

Many business owners and managers treat customer experience like a program that they can implement with a single training program. According to a recent study, only 1 percent of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations, and 86 percent of those interviewed admitted they’d actually pay more for a better consumer experience.

The question is, are you part of the very small group of businesses that’s investing in their customers’ experience?

A recent Forbes article by Christine Crandell says the real dilemma comes about when organizations begin to ask themselves which should come first – business strategy or consumer experience?

“Culture drives strategy which drives structure” wrote Crandell. “It is still true today. Consumer experience is a catalyst of transformation. It directly impacts culture, strategy, structure and all parts of a business.”

We couldn’t agree more. Your business’ customer experience management program shouldn’t be an afterthought. Rather, it should go hand-in-hand with every aspect of business planning you do. In other words, it’s the chicken.

Consumer experience management isn’t just a program you launch. It’s not something that sits on the shelf in a 3-ring binder, or gets 30 minutes in the new employees training program. Customer experience management needs to permeate everything you do. It needs to be in the water, to leach into your bones. Your employees need to breathe consumer experience and satisfaction.

If you can make customer experience management part of your total culture, it will drive every strategy you ever create — marketing, accounts payable, logistics — and that will create the structure your company operates under. You’ll be rewarded with loyal customers who bring more loyal customers to you, increasing your bottom line exponentially.

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

A customer experience management professional may be one of the most valuable, revenue generating employees within an organization, making the position crucial. As many organizations are beginning to realize the value of investing in their customers’ experience, more and more companies are investing heavily in customer experience management plans. In turn, many more business professionals — especially from the marketing and customer service worlds — are being transitioned into the role of customer experience manager.

But what exactly does a customer experience management professional do?

Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand or organization over time. This includes visiting a website, speaking with a customer service representative, attending a brand-sponsored event, visiting a store, or simply using a company’s product.

How does customer experience management differ from customer service? It is best to think of customer experience management as a hybrid between customer service and marketing. In other words, the goal of customer experience management is not just to keep customers satisfied; rather, it is to make satisfied customers loyal while turning loyal customers into active brand advocates. These advocates, in turn, bring in new customers as they evangelize to their friends and colleagues about the brand. As every business professional knows, a happy customer is one of the most effective forms of advertising, and the ultimate goal of customer experience management is to create active brand advocates.

While a customer service manager will typically react to issues as they arise, the customer experience management professional works proactively to prevent those issues from ever happening, while ensuring that customers are delighted and pleased with every interaction they have with the organization. This involves a lot of future planning and thinking and requires the professional to transcend the typical departmental roles and assignments.

The customer experience management professional works to identify, understand and create a profile of their target customer. This includes basic demographic information, as well as logging customers’ needs, wants and desires. Once customer profiles have been created, the customer experience management professional will analyze every point of contact a customer has with the brand.

Armed with this information, the customer experience manager then works to identify new ways the company can delight their customers at every touch point. This can include anything from customer loyalty programs to added personal touches or convenience features — anything that leaves a lasting impression and encourages the customer to evangelize the company to a friend.

Because this is a relatively new position, qualifications for customer experience management can vary widely depending on the organization. Many in this role have backgrounds in marketing, advertising, public relations, and even customer service. One thing is for certain, the best customer experience managers share a keen insight into the mind of a consumer, and a knack for creating unique, out-of-the-box ideas.

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Mystery shopping can be a beneficial way for airlines to gain objective feedback. Typically, airlines only hear from angry customers when a problem arises. When it comes to air travel, emotions run high. Whether people are flying for business or pleasure, many travelers find air travel to be a stressful experience. Airlines have to go above and beyond to please travelers in order to encourage brand loyalty.

Mystery shopping helps airlines understand their customers' perspective.Many people are familiar with the bad publicity that can occur when an angry traveler takes to social media to complain about their poor experience with an airline. In fact, a simple search on any social network of any major airline carrier’s name will produce a wide variety of consumer complaints being broadcast via the internet. These can be everything from written complaints to traveler’s actual pictures and videos of the problem. While these reviews shouldn’t be discredited, this may not be an accurate picture of what most passengers experience.

While airlines may be very well aware of their most frequent customer complaints — small seats, baggage fees — getting into the mind of the consumer is not as easy. One of the best ways for airlines to gain insight into their customers’ experience is through mystery shopping audits.

Airline mystery shopping is designed to give airline carriers insight into their customers’ experience through an unbiased, objective pair of eyes. Not only is mystery shopping a great way for airline carriers to find out exactly what their passengers experience, and what sort of customer service is being offered, but it allows them to identify strengths and weaknesses, which can help them avoid a future public relations problem.

Furthermore, mystery shopping is a great way to reward exceptional employees, which in itself provides an incentive for other airline employees to treat every customer as a potential mystery shopper. When conducting an airline shop, mystery shopping professionals will evaluate the level of customer service offered by all airline employees they interact with during their flight, including those at the airport as well as in-flight.

Additionally, they will evaluate the look and appearance of the aircraft’s interior, its cleanliness, the restroom facilities, and accessibility for disabled passengers. They can even evaluate the airline’s meal options and service.

The wealth of data received from an airline mystery shopping audit can help airlines determine areas of weakness and strength in their operations; identify how their agents react, and should react, in specific situations such as flight changes or unruly flyers; develop, refine or evaluate a training program; create an incentive program for employees; and, even develop new criteria for management performance and bonuses.

Mystery shopping is a better, more accurate indicator of how airlines are performing, as compared to focus groups, customer surveys, and social media complaints. For an airline looking for key performance indicators, consider working with a mystery shopping agency that can provide national or even international coverage.

Photo credit: Matt Hurst (Flickr, Creative Commons

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Is customer perspective of your company the same as yours? Do you see your business through your eyes, or your customer’s eyes? How can you ascertain what your customers are thinking?

Your customers are talking about you – and these days, they’re using social media to do so. The question is, are you listening? Social media is one of the best ways for businesses and organizations in all industries to gain customer perspective and insight into their business and operations. The customer perspective gained through social media is invaluable to companies when creating customer experience management plans.

The following are a great starting point for those looking to use social media to research customer perspectives:

1. Google

Not only should you be Googling your business, you should do it often. As a business owner, you should be aware of everything that is being said about your business – press, reviews and customer complaints. Set up a Google Alert for your business name. This will automatically deliver new search results directly to your email as they occur, making it easy to follow trends in customer perspectives. Google Alert for Measure CP

2. Online review sites

Whether or not you’ve created a profile on review sites such as Yelp.com, there’s a good chance someone else has – therefore it’s important that you check your reviews often. In addition, you should also be checking out your competitors’ reviews. By checking out the competition, you’ll be able to gain invaluable insight into the customer perspective of your competition, which can help you figure out what your target market wants.

3. Twitter

Even if your business is not on Twitter, you should still be running frequent searches for your business within the site. This will pull up any conversation about your business – in fact, you may be surprised to find that more people are talking about your business than you would expect!

4. Competitor’s pages

Next time you’re online, scope out your competitors’ social media profiles? Look at what’s working and what’s not. Their customers will have great insight that will often align with your business. Look at what their customers are saying and get some great insight into your company’s customer perspective.

Customer Service

Hire Mystery Shoppers For Call Centers to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Measure Consumer Perspectives is not only an in-person mystery shopping firm working with onsite retail operations. We also specialize in assessing call centers, internal operations, and other back office functions. We work with both B2B and B2C companies in every function.

A company’s call center team has the power to make or break a company’s reputation. If a customer service agent is unfriendly or ill-informed, a bad experience with a company’s inbound call center can leave customers feeling burned by not just the agent, but by the company as a whole.

Mystery shopping and call grading can help companies create a top notch customer service experience by identifying strengths and improving weaknesses. Call grading is an effective way for companies to gain insight into their customer’s perceptions. Companies of all sizes have hired us to conduct call grading as a means to ensure that when customers contact them, they are left with the best possible impression of their company.

So how does >Measure Consumer Perspectives handle call grading? Before the audit takes place, we work closely with our clients to create a checklist of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) the client deems important to customers’ satisfaction. For example, how long did it take for the call to be answered? Did the customer service agent adhere to their script? Was the problem resolved in a timely manner? Was the problem solved at all, or did the agent hang up to keep their times artificially low.

Once criteria is established, our experienced assessors will grade the calls according to the criteria and adherence to the KPIs, making notes along the way. Once the project is complete, our assessors will produce a thorough report detailing any general observations.

By conducting call grading audits, Measure Consumer Perspectives is able to help companies to identify weak links within their staff. Measure Consumer Perspectives has worked with many companies of every size over the years, and can help your company as well. Call us for call grading for your own call centers.