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Mobile Feedback

Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

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)

Mobile Feedback

Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how likely are you to promote us to a friend or colleague?

Have you seen this before? Has this question ever popped up when you’ve placed an online order, received a mobile survey from a store, or even had it appear on an app or piece of software you use?

That’s the Net Promoter Score many retail and B2C businesses use to see what kind of word-of-mouth promotion they can hypothetically earn from their customers. Restaurants, retail stores, car rental companies, insurance companies, and even online merchants all ask that one simple question, which people are likely to answer since it’s “just one.”

Mobile survey in Persian. Every good retailer is worried about their customer experience, no matter where in the world they are.Occasionally there will be one more question, either just a simple “Why?” in the case of a perfect 10, or “What would it take to raise our score by just one point?” if the answer is less than 10.

Mind you, a high score doesn’t actually mean the company will get that kind of promotion and attention, but it at least lets the businesses know if they’re on the right track in making their customers happy.

The Net Promoter Score was originally created by Fred Riechheld and Bain & Company when it was published in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article, “One Number You Need to Grow.” Reichheld said that the Net Promoter Score measures the loyalty between a provider and a consumer.

The scores are divided up into three groups:

  • If a customer gives you a 9 or 10, they’re considered Promoters. They love you and they’ll shout your name from the rooftops, or at least tell their friends about you.
  • If they give you a 7 or 8, they’re considered Passive. They’re just sort of “meh” about you and your product.
  • If they give you a 1 through 6, they’re Detractors. They may not hate you, but they’re emotionally invested in seeing you take a fall.
  • The Net Promoter Score is more than just a mean average of all the scores though, giving you a final number between 1 and 10. It’s a little more complicated. It would be oh-so-easy to just add up all the scores, divide by the number of responses, and come up with a figure.

    But this score was created by an academic, which means it has to be more complicated than that. (Actually, there are very good statistical reasons why it is more complicated than that, but I didn’t want to get into that now.)

    To arrive at your actual Net Promoter Score, should take the percentage of Promoters and subtract the percentage of Detractors (hopefully you have more Promoters than Detractors!), and multiply that remaining number by 100. That’s your official Net Promoter Score.

    (% Promoters – % Detractors) x 100 = Your NPS

    In other words, if you launched your survey and 68% of respondents were Promoters, and 13% were Detractors, your score would be (68% – 13%) x 100 = 55. That’s a very good score, because more than half of your customers are Promoters.

    Generally, if you can get a Net Promoter Score over 30, that’s good. Anything over 50 is great, and anything over 70 is a world-class organization. Not surprisingly, anything negative is bad. In that case, you don’t have a bad survey or a bad marketing department, you have serious problems coursing through your organization like poison.

    Do you need help coming up with your Net Promoter Score? Measure CP can help you find it. We can use mobile surveys and text-based feedback to help you reach your customers and find out how well you’re doing. And if you want to expand beyond your traditional NPS, we can help you with that too. Just visit the Measure CP website and ask to speak with one of our mobile survey experts.

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

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    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.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    Technology has certainly sped up the way we do things: the retail supply chain has changed as Amazon has worked to perfect fast fulfillment and two-day shipping. It has changed the way retailers and suppliers exchange information and sell products online. And it has even changed the way products are promoted and shared between shoppers.

    All of this has led to things like the retail omnichannel, the idea that the customer experience is the same in the store as it is in the ecommerce site, as it is on the mobile app, as it is on the packaging from the online order.

    And all of this has led to the redefinition of the “modern customer experience.”

    A recent article by Daniel Bakst says that regardless of how things, the key to delivering a modern customer experience is “by providing the value that brought customers to your brand in the first place.”

    Mobile survey in Persian. Every good retailer is worried about their customer experience, no matter where in the world they are.In other words, don’t lose track of what made you a customer’s favorite in the first place. But at the same time, don’t get complacent. If customers don’t find anything new or exciting, they’ll start looking for new ways to spend their money and find the things that made them excited about your own brand in the first place.

    This means you always need to be focused on the customer experience and make sure this is what your customers want from you. Measure the performance of new products, current products, and even new products available from competitors and new suppliers.

    How can you manage all this? Data collection. As Bakst says:

    If your brand is hoping to start the journey of fostering and executing modernity in its Customer Experience, then data-collection is the first step. Without data, brands are simply making guesses hoping that customers will like it. Before any major investment or change is made, organizational leadership should have a clear idea of what changes need to be made, how these changes will take place, and what kind of effect it will have on the bottom line. Enact Customer Experience measurement programs like mystery shopping and voice of customer feedback surveys to get a clearer understanding of how customers feel about your existing Customer Experience, and what changes can improve upon these feelings.

    We’re a big believer in point-of-sale analytics and paying close attention to your top performing brands and suppliers. But, most retail buyers only have the bandwidth to keep track of their Tier 1 suppliers, and can’t pay as much attention as the Tier 2 suppliers or seasonal items.

    Plus, you have no way of knowing what your customers actually think about your store and brand.

    This is where mystery shopping and the “voice of the customer” feedback helps. A mystery shopping agency can not only help you determine whether your stores and staff are meeting your standards, you can use mobile surveys to keep track of what people buy and then assess their attitudes toward those products.

    With enough surveys, you can get an idea of what customers think of your best performers, information you can’t always get just by analyzing sales data. And with enough mystery shopping reports, you can determine whether your staff and store performance is providing the experience your modern customers expect from you.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    We recently published a whitepaper on mobile surveys and mobile feedback, a service we offer here at Measure CP. You can download this free 9-page whitepaper and learn more about the technology that lets you reach your customers and get them to respond to you quickly and more easily than dealing with survey cards and messages printed on receipts.

    In the meantime, here is a sample of our whitepaper: the first chapter. Enjoy!

    Chapter 1: Overview Mobile Surveys and Mobile Feedback

    Using mobile feedback as a customer experience management tool can give you the upper-hand on your competitors, many of which still rely on traditional methods of measuring a consumer’s perspective. Some of these traditional methods include handing out satisfaction cards at the end of a meal, store visit or purchase, or asking the person to complete a telephone survey by calling a phone number listed on his or her receipts. These methods may have been an adequate means of measuring the consumer perspective in the past, however, mobile technology has taken over and these methods are becoming antiquated.

    With mobile feedback, a customer survey can be given upon his or her request so they do not feel spammed. A customer can request a mobile feedback survey by scanning a QR code or by texting a code to a specific number. The mobile surveys can be as short, or as long as necessary to gather the requested feedback about your business. Most mobile feedback surveys, however, are typically no longer than four questions.

    The benefits of Mobile Surveys and Mobile Feedback are abundant:

    • Your customers will feel connected to your business
    • You have the opportunity to show customers results before they leave your location
    • You receive immediate feedback while the customer is still at your location
    • Mobile feedback is a quick and easy process for the customer

    You can download the entire whitepaper and read it at your convenience. Then, if you have any questions, feel free to call us and our staff of trained mystery shopping experts will be happy to help.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    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)

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    App surveys are changing the way that companies gather data, making it easier than ever to get feedback from customers and measure consumer perspectives. In the past, no matter how hard a business may have tried to get feedback from customers, the success rate was low. Customers are in a hurry, so filling out a comment card by hand or taking the time to make a phone call can seem like too much to ask of a customer who is always on the go.

    A man holding up a mobile phone, useful for taking app surveys.

    But what do these “on the go” customers all likely have in common? A probable response is their cell phones. Over half of Americans have smartphones, a statistic which is growing every year. This is where app surveys come in. App surveys are done through – you guessed it – a smartphone application and they are usually completed in just five questions or less.

    The idea here is that mobile technology can improve what other marketing channels cannot. Committing to a 15-minute survey or writing a paragraph-long review can often be too intensive for a consumer who has already mentally moved on from their experience with your business. But a five-question survey completed via a streamlined phone app may seem a lot more manageable to many consumers.

    While some may argue that app surveys are simple by nature and therefore can only gather a small level of detail, proponents of app surveys say that sometimes simpler is better. Especially for small and medium-sized businesses who are focusing on gaining market share, it is possible that the potentially simple insights gained through a short app survey can make a big impact on the company’s operations.

    The beauty of a simple app survey is that the results will be easily actionable. For example, through an app survey, you (or the appropriate person in your company) can instantly be notified via text and email of negative responses from customers, so that the situation can be immediately addressed. Assuming your business can respond to this negative feedback quickly and in a satisfactory way, your business can then avoid any negative commentary in a public venue, such as Yelp or Google.

    As you know, word of mouth is a very powerful tool. App surveys can contribute to customer retention by helping you keep your current customers happy, as in the example we mentioned above. But, imagine if an unhappy customer was not given an opportunity to complete an app survey. This customer may take to venting their frustrations online, via Yelp, Google, or some other public forum. Bad word of mouth is hard to recover from and nearly impossible to ignore. If that customer had been given an app survey, the company could have addressed their negative experience before it became an issue, putting good word of mouth marketing in place of bad.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    Mobile surveys, such as text surveys and QR codes, can help you see how your business measures up to the competition. As anyone in business knows, it is easier to keep your current customers than to find and retain new customers.

    Results from MeasureCP’s mobile surveys give you immediate insight into your customers, allowing you to determine if they’re satisfied with your offerings and if they plan to return to you in the future. This way, you can keep your current customers and use their mobile survey feedback to help your business grow.

    MeasureCP’s mobile surveys work by providing customers with a QR code and a text-to number. That way, regardless of the type of phone the customers has, their wireless provider, or even their location, the customer is able to respond to mobile survey questions quickly and easily.

    There are a variety of ways you can ask customers to respond to mobile surveys. You can place signage at tables, on counters, and in restrooms. Mobile surveys can also be sent to a customer after they have called your call center. You can include a mobile survey text-to number on receipts, and your employees can also simply ask for feedback by pointing out mobile surveys and briefly explaining how the customer can respond.

    Mobile surveys, like text surveys, are a way to let customers give you feedback via their mobile phone.An important benefit of mobile feedback is that if a customer experiences anything negative from your business, they are more likely to respond negatively in a mobile survey if they are asked for feedback soon after their experience.

    And, after providing feedback via a mobile survey and getting a response, the customer is less likely to vent publicly via social media. So, our mobile surveys can help your business address wrongs, keep customers satisfied, and prevent negative word of mouth from spreading.

    Plus, if people are more inclined to complain — and may want to air their grievances online via their mobile phones — you might be able to head that impulse off at the pass if they have a place to complain immediately and feel they’ve been heard.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    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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    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    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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    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    Mobile feedback is the new method of tracking customer loyalty for customer experience management experts. No longer are small business owners, restaurant managers, and retail stores relying on comment cards and paper surveys. Many are looking to mobile feedback for a way to monitor the sentiment around their brands, incorporate loyalty programs, and even engage with customers at the point of sale.

    A lot of this mobile feedback is coming from non-app based tools. Regular mobile feedback apps can include sites/tools that are downloaded onto a person’s smartphone. These frequently-visited recommendation sites are often used by customers to leave public feedback about a business — restaurants, retail stores, doctors and dentists, etc.

    Customer Satisfaction

    Customer Satisfaction (Photo credit: agaumont)

    And while they are valuable tools to restaurant and retail managers who want to measure the sentiment of their customers, it also often falls prey to overinflation of complaints and people who believe that outraged indignation is a birthright, as well as completely falsified complaints and attacks by unscrupulous competitors.

    The other alternative that restaurants and retail establishments can take advantage of are text-based mobile surveys, and special survey websites that use a mobile device, but are more private and will only solicit the opinions of actual customers, not people who make up complaints because they have an axe to grind.

    Imagine having a dedicated mobile feedback web page that can only be accessed at the point of sale via a QR code. Ask customers to scan it as they pay for their purchases, or scan it when they receive their bill at their table, and they can take a mobile feedback survey on their phone while they wait.

    Or try using a text-based mobile survey. Have the waitstaff or sales staff point out the number to dial to receive a four-question survey about their experience just by texting their answers back, or leave it on a table tent in a restaurant or flyer around the store. This can be done on a smartphone or regular flip phone.

    In both cases, the mobile feedback answers will be compiled and aggregated into an overall satisfaction score. But they can also be used to alert management as soon as there is a problem.

    For example, at a restaurant, a customer can take the survey while they wait for their bill to arrive. They give a low score for their experience, and the manager is immediately alerted. He or she can visit the customer’s table, help solve any problems, and offer a discount or free dessert to improve the customer’s satisfaction, thus ensuring they become repeat customers.

    Using non-app based mobile feedback helps managers immediately identify problems and help improve customer satisfaction without waiting for a person’s issues to reach the web where everyone can see them. With the right mobile feedback system, managers can help improve customer satisfaction enough so that if the customer does visit a recommendation site, they will leave a positive review instead.

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    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    Is measuring the customer perspective of hundreds of thousands of people possible? You bet.

    Understanding customer perspective — how your business is seen through customers’ eyes — helps business owners and executives know where they need to make changes to improve customer loyalty.

    It’s one thing if you have a few hundred customers. With those numbers, you can usually just ask their opinions. Restaurant managers do table touches, coffee shop owners talk to their regulars, and retailers always hear from happy and unhappy customers. That’s easy measurement.

    How Do You Even Quantify How Big of a Problem You Have?

    Man holds an iPhone toward the camera

    You can measure the customer perspective of tens of thousands of people with these.

    Measuring the customer perspective for tens of thousands of people can be problematic, however, especially if you have hundreds of stores throughout the country. But, it can be done.

    Many large companies use mystery shopping to set a baseline for performance. Measure Consumer Perspectives can be employed to assess each store’s performance by sending mystery shoppers to every location to find strengths and weaknesses.

    Large companies often launch a mobile feedback campaign to get data quickly. Measure Consumer Perspectives routinely collects data through mobile surveys, which typically have a 20 percent or more completion rate (compared to survey cards, which barely hit one percent). These are very short surveys — usually four questions — sent to a customer’s mobile phone. The questionnaires work on any kind of phone, not just smart phones.

    Results should be compiled and used to measure improvements at each store. With this information, owners and executives can determine whether problem stores are improving, and if stronger stores are holding steady.

    Mobile feedback provides one of the most reliable sources of customer feedback. It can outperform every other form of customer perspective measurement. Survey cards, coupon redemption, and even focus groups only show a slice of the customer satisfaction pie.

    Social media conversations pertaining to a company should be monitored, but this is not a complete picture of customer perspective. For a complete understanding, companies should look to mystery shoppers and mobile feedback to obtain measurable information to enact changes and bring improvement.

    Photo credit: Kengo (Flickr, Creative Commons

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    If you own an apartment complex, you know there are a lot of variables in keeping your tenants happy. But while getting that lease signed quickly or providing good maintenance are important, the most critical time for providing good customer service is actually during move-in.

    Consider using text surveys to measure your performance and your tenants' happiness.Maybe it’s been a while since you lived anywhere new, or maybe you’ve been in the business for too long, but the stress of moving is enough to drive anyone to the edge. The selling process is complete, the lease is signed, the boxes are packed; if a tenant comes in after all that and finds that the apartment they’ve chosen doesn’t match the pristine model unit they saw — the paint is peeling, the plumbing’s in bad shape, there’s an ant problem — you’re going to have problems on your hands.

    A lot of complaints are registered during the move-in process, and if you don’t act on those complaints immediately, tenants are going to regret their decision to move into your apartment complex. They’ve signed a lease and they’re stuck with you. This is where text surveys can make a big difference.

    Getting their feedback and acting on it as quickly as possible is essential during this time; postal or e-mail surveys will be too slow or get lost in the shuffle of junk mail and spam. Text surveys are a great opportunity to access your tenants immediately, and you’ll have a much higher rate of response!

    Your tenants will likely respond within 90 minutes of receiving a text survey, and if something has made them unhappy, you’ll know almost right away. Which means you have the opportunity to address the problem for them almost right away, too, which can mean the difference between a disgruntled tenant and a great long-term relationship with your customers.

    You can even tie the surveys in with your CRM; dispatch the survey immediately after the move-in, and send another after you’ve marked their problem as resolved to ensure that they’re happy with the results. Move-is is painful enough on its own; if you wait too long to address their issues, just giving them a discount on their rent won’t be enough to soothe the sting.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    When people stay in your hotel, whether they’re there for business or pleasure, they expect a lot from you. They expect quick and painless check-in and check-out, a secure room, comfortable and cozy beds, great water pressure in the shower, and sometimes, even a warm breakfast. Oh — and it wouldn’t hurt, of course, for all those things to be delivered professionally and with a big smile. Guests in your hotel also expect privacy, peace and quiet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t unobtrusive ways to show you care about their opinions and feedback: Try using text surveys the next time you want to ask hotel guests to weigh in on their stay — even while they’re still checked in!

    Encourage your customers via a placard, table tent or even mirror cling to send a quick message to a five-digit “short code” from their cell phones (no smart phones necessary!), which will then return a prompt to answer a few questions that will translate into actionable feedback from you.

    The benefit of these surveys is that unlike mystery shops, which use people who are being paid to patronize your business, text surveys rely on a group of people who are already somewhat loyal to your business. The feedback of emotionally invested customers is especially valuable knowing all the many hotel options that travelers have nowadays.

    Another benefit? The results of these surveys will come straight to you — via text message or email — as soon as your guests hit send from their phones.

    At the front desk: This is a great opportunity to ask about your staff, even the ones who are standing right in front of the guests. Definitely gauge your guests’ reactions the front-desk staff, bellhops, valets and more. If you’ve sensed issues with wait times, baggage handling and the like, this is a great time to get in there and ask about them.

    In room: Ask how they’re liking their room! Are their linens crisp and clean? IS the water pressure good enough? Is housekeeping prompt and polite?

    Many of the answers you’ll get, if they are negative, are likely simple things that could be addressed by a quick call to the front desk or housekeeping management. But if you’re proactive in asking customers about these things before they come to you with an issue, you definitely come out looking like the champion.

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    When people visit your resort, they’re there to relax, enjoy the services you have to offer and be spoiled by the fantastic customer service each one of your employees provides — in every aspect of the business, whether it’s a restaurant or spa or even a member of your housekeeping staff. Measure your resort's performance with text surveys If something has gone wrong, you’ll definitely hear from your most vocal guests…but what about the rest? Is the only option to call the front desk and speak to someone? That can be intimidating for someone who doesn’t like confrontation and just wants to enjoy their stay. Maybe you just want to know how things are going, but don’t have the resources to make a personal call to each guest’s room.

    Hopefully, guests will be busy out enjoying all the wonderful services and activities you have to offer, but they should have some downtime as well. This is a perfect opportunity to invite them to take any text surveys, a quiet, unobtrusive way to get to their opinions and feedback on your resort. Here are a couple of ideas on how to implement something like this:

    At the front desk: Ask customers, both at check-in and check-out, about their experience with your staff. How long did they have to wait? Were there issues with the check-in process? Were all the charges explained to them? Ask anything you’d like.

    In-room: Ask how they’re liking their room! Were the sheets and linens nice and clean? How has housekeeping service been? You might not want to send any text surveys during your stay, but you can send them afterward.

    These ideas go for all the other aspects of your resort, too. The questions don’t have to be complicated; the answers won’t be either, though you can give customers the option to tell you more. The best part about these text surveys: You’ll get responses instantly to your cell phone or e-mail, which means you can act on both positive and negative feedback immediately.

    If your resort or hotel group has a rewards program, consider using text surveys to communicate with your most loyal group of customers. Offer a small incentive to them for answering a few quick text survey questions. The benefit to you: valuable insights from repeat customers. The benefit to them: A token of your appreciation, plus better service based on their insights next time they come to your resort!

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    Travel can be stressful. We’ve already discussed this in my post about hiring mystery shoppers. But maybe you’re concerned about adding one more customer into the mix — who isn’t even a “real” customer — when your lines are already out the door. Or maybe you don’t want to wait for a report to come back from a mystery shopping company. Or maybe you want immediate feedback on just a couple of factors during your busiest season.

    One way to gauge your customers’ expectations and actual experiences is through text surveys. It’s an easy way to ask for your customers’ input — and ensure that their opinions won’t be ignored or lost in some dusty comment box in the corner of your location. How can you ensure this? Their responses come straight to you — or any manager or supervisor you choose — either by phone or e-mail. Here are a couple of ideas for using these text surveys in your car rental service:

    At the counter: Tents at rental station at your counter — or even signs along the line, if you’ve got big crowds for the holidays — asking how long customers have been waiting, or how friendly and helpful their customer service has been.

    Inside the car: Consider using a window cling just inside the window of your cars inviting customers to take a survey before they drive off the lot. They can give feedback on the entire rental process, or maybe just the walkthrough. Were they informed of all the return policies? How does the car look? Was the attendant helpful and friendly?

    The value in the immediacy of these surveys shouldn’t be minimized. When you get these results to your phone or e-mail, you have an opportunity to address customers while they’re still inside your business, if necessary, and correct anything that has gone wrong as soon as it’s happened. Or, if a customer has spoken especially highly of one of your counter employees or attendants on the lot, say, you can reward that employee instantaneously for a job well done!

    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    People are always asking me what’s next in the world of customer feedback. With entire websites dedicated to the latest and greatest general technology, it’s understandable to want to know about the upcoming technologies that could help your business.

    Listening to the Voice of the Customer - Futur...

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    To arrive at the answer of what’s next, it helps to look at the path we’ve taken to get there. So let’s talk about the history of customer feedback! The classic, of course, is the face-to-face communication that came with the simpler times of the past: happy customers bringing baked goods after a particularly pleasant shopping experience; disgruntled customers throwing down with shop owners in the town square.

    (That happened, right?)

    The first formal method for collecting customer feedback was the comment card. There would either be a box with a slot or an address to mail the card to. Do you remember getting those cards in stores and restaurants? How often did you actually fill them out? (And, if you worked with a business that used them, do you remember the time and effort involved in actually converting those insights from illegible chicken scratch to usable customer information?)

    Exactly.

    Mystery shopping was next. Over the years, the process itself evolved to include audio recording, then video recording. Besides the obvious technological evolution here, mystery shopping also empowered shoppers so much more with a list of things to look for during their experience, and gave the responsibility of interpreting the data to a professional third party. All a business had to do was act on the recommendations set forth in the report.

    The latest evolution has been cell phone surveys, which I’ve talked about briefly. A cross between a modern-day comment card and mystery shopping with instant results, cell phone surveys prompt customers (who have already opted in) to provide feedback on a variety of things by SMS.

    It’s safe to say that customer feedback technology will correspond to technology in general, so I would venture a guess that there may be a crowd-sourced mystery shopping service sometime soon; or maybe there’ll be “an app for that”! Whatever it is, you can rest assured that I’ll find out about it and share it with you in another blog post.

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    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    As a woman, I can say from personal experience that shopping for clothing can be incredibly frustrating. The store I’m in makes all the difference in the world; even in chain stores, the employees and attention to detail in a particular location can make or break my experience.

    But we rarely get to voice our opinion on that. While nothing will ever take the place of a live human making eye contact and asking sincerely, asking for feedback in any way will put you head and shoulders above most clothing retailers. Consider using message–based text surveys to gauge your customers’ feedback on a day-to-day basis. Here are two ideas of areas in your stores to use these text surveys:

    Mobile phones make text surveys a great option for clothing stores.

    Image via Wikipedia

     

    In fitting rooms: Try hanging signs on those floor-to-ceiling mirrors inviting customers to tell you about their experience with your product thus far. Did they find the sizes they needed? How are things fitting? Did they need help finding things?

    At checkout: Ask customers whether they got the help they needed. By sending a message to the text code on the sign at the register, they can give feedback on their experience, from the girl in the fitting room to the person ringing them up.

    You’ll get their feedback instantly, pushed to your phone or e-mail. That gives you an opportunity to find them while they’re still in the store, if necessary, and correct anything that has gone wrong as soon as it’s happened. If a customer speaks especially highly of an employee, you can reward that employee instantaneously for their excellent text surveys. There’s a lot to be said for quick response.

    This might also be a great opportunity to leverage members of your store’s loyalty program or mailing list: Push an SMS/text message to them inviting them to participate in a survey, in exchange for a token discount they visit your shop — or an invite to a members-only Ladies Night Out event, or a perk of your choosing. Make it special for them!

    These surveys can be especially valuable because they provide real-time, real-life feedback from people who already shop in your stores. They aren’t being paid to come in and buy things; they don’t have a list of criteria to look for during their visit. All they’re worried about is having a satisfying experience in your store that ends with them finding clothes that fit them well.

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    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    The average department store sees hundreds of customers every day: male, female, young, old, busy, leisurely and everything in between. How often do you, as a manager, get to ask for those customers’ honest feedback, especially in the less frequently trafficked areas?

    Nothing will ever take the place of a live human making eye contact and asking for an opinion, but asking for feedback in any way will put you head and shoulders above most retailers. Consider using message–based text surveys to gauge your customers’ feedback on a day-to-day basis.

    Picture of Samsung Moment cell phone with scre...

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    Here are two ideas of areas in your stores to use these text surveys:

    Among product displays: You could hang signs inviting customers to take a quick survey on their shopping experience. Give them an opportunity to sound off on whether they found the sizes they needed, whether they needed help locating them, and how friendly the staff within the department was.

    At checkout: Put a placard on the counter by your registers asking customers how their service experience has been. By sending a message to the code on the placard, they can offer feedback on a specific person who helped them find a particular product or went above and beyond in some way, or complain about a particularly negative associate without worrying about an uncomfortable confrontation with that person — or with management.

    You could even, upon customer completion of the text survey, offer an instant discount on whatever items they plan to purchase.

    These text surveys can provide special value, especially in conjunction with a bona-fide mystery shopping program, because they provide real-time, real-life feedback from people who are actually in your stores. They’re not worried about filling out their forms correctly or going through all the necessary steps for their mystery shop — they just want a good shopping experience, to get in and get out in as little time and with as little frustration as possible.

    The best part: You’ll get feedback instantly, as soon as customers respond. Which means you can follow up immediately if necessary to ensure that your customers stay happy instead of taking their business elsewhere.

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    Mobile Feedback

    Using Bots As a Mystery Shopping Solution

    On the surface, running a bank could seem like a purely transactional business. You hang on to people’s money and dole it out when they come in to collect it; you extend loans to deserving parties and expect them to be paid back in due time.

    But you know better: Like many businesses that seem simple on the surface, there’s a lot more happening here than meets the eye. There’s a huge component of trust and confidence involved in your relationships with your bank’s customers, and it takes a lot of work to maintain them.

    How often do you take the time to ask your customers how your bank is doing to earn and keep their trust and confidence? You can’t guarantee it just by handing their child a lollipop before they walk out the door. Now you can do more by offering simple text surveys customers can complete quickly and on their own time, on a variety of different topics concerning your bank.

    The door to the walk-in vault in the Winona Sa...

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    Even if it’s the simplest transaction, like making a deposit in the drive-through or withdrawing money at a teller window, you can print a 5-digit short code on their deposit receipt or on a table tent where they fill out their withdrawal slips, asking them for feedback on how it went. They can give you an idea of their wait time, how smoothly the whole process went and the friendliness of the tellers.

    Suppose you have a prospective loan recipient come in. This can be a nerve-wracking experience. After an employee has taken down all their information — including a contact phone number — and they’ve left the branch you can push a message to them thanking them for visiting and asking them to complete text surveys asking how their experience went and how likely they are to be a return customer.

    Or maybe a longtime customer has just decided to take out a mortgage for their first home with your bank. This is a fantastic opportunity to check in with them with short text surveys throughout the process and show them you care not just about their money but about their home-buying process, move-in, and repayment process after they’ve gotten settled in their new home.

    The best part about these surveys: You’ll get feedback as soon as customers respond, meaning you can follow up immediately if necessary to ensure that your customers stay happy instead of taking their business elsewhere.

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