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Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

It’s hard to believe, but the age-old mystery shopper scam is still around and catching unsuspecting people who just want to earn some extra money. But we’re still seeing articles that show people are falling for the scam and getting caught by unscrupulous dirtbags who think nothing of preying on people.

Since we recruit mystery shoppers, these filthy rotten scammers only make our job harder, because if someone gets burned or is on their guard about mystery shopping, we have a harder time convincing them that we’re running a legitimate operation.

If you’re interested in mystery shopping, but you want to make sure that the offers you’re seeing are legitimate, here are a few telltale signs to look for.

Scam icon - Watch out for mystery shopping scams out there.

You’re expected to PAY for your shops.

If you had a job at a restaurant or office, would you pay to go to work? Of course not! Mystery shopping is no different: it’s a job, you get paid to do it. There is no way you should ever have to pay to receive shops.

Basically, if there’s a mystery shop in your area, and you’re qualified to do it, you can accept the shop. There’s no fee, there’s no wage sharing, nothing. This is a job like any other, and if you’re chosen to do it, you’ll get paid to do it. You won’t pay to become a shopper ever.

You’re promised a lot of money.

I saw one mystery shop that offered $350 for a single shop. Honestly, that’s way too much money being offered. A typical mystery shop can be anywhere from $8 – $20, depending on how big the shop is, how complex, and even what’s being asked of the shopper. Anything outside of that range, especially from someone you’ve never worked with before, is almost certainly a scam. (We’ve had a few shops that fall outside that range, but we offered them to people we’ve worked with in the past, so they know they can trust us and we can trust them.)

One mystery shopping scam story in Texas (see below) promised $350 for buying three Walmart gift cards and said there would be two of those jobs a week for as long as the shopper wanted them. At $700 per week, that’s a $35,000 salary, just for driving to Walmart twice and buying three gift cards.

Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. And $35,000 per year for three hours a week? That’s impossible.

3. You’re promised cruise ship and vacation mystery shops.

I’ve been doing this job for a lot of years, working with a lot of national clients, and I have never, ever seen a cruise mystery shop. I also belong to MSPA Americas, our national trade association, and none of their members have ever seen cruise mystery shops either.

That’s because these shops don’t exist. They’re not out there. The people who promise these are lying.

Believe me, if there were cruise ship mystery shops to be had, the staff at the mystery shopping agencies would do it themselves. Again, it sounds too good to be true, which is a serious red flag.

4. There are spelling and grammar errors in the announcement.

The people who perpetrate these scams aren’t necessarily in the U.S., and so English is their second, third, or fourth language, which means their announcements often have errors. They also don’t use a lot of the same expressions and slang we use in the United States, and their formal English may sound stilted and unusual.

While people are prone to make errors in their writing, you shouldn’t see a lot of obvious errors in a job posting. The occasional typo is not a big deal, but it it’s a poorly-written ad, it’s almost certainly not real.

5. You’re asked to deposit a check and use those funds for your shops.

I recently heard a story about a woman in Texas who fell victim to the old “deposit this cashier’s check” scam.

This is where the scammers send you a check for a few thousand dollars, ask you to deposit it, buy some gift cards or wire part of that money back to them, and then rescind that check. Or the check is found to be counterfeit.

Now, not only are you out the money that you wired or used for the gift cards, but the remaining money that you were supposed to “keep” is gone. The woman in Texas received three checks for $2,850, was asked to buy $2,500 in gift cards and mail them, and then keep the remaining money as her commission.

After the shop was done, she found out the checks were counterfeit, and she had negative $2,000 in her bank account. There was no recourse or way to recover the money, so she lost $2,000 of her own money to some anonymous thieves.

Bottom line, never deposit a check from a stranger, and never buy gift cards as a part of a shop.

If you want to make sure a company is legitimate, check out the MSPA America’s Service Provider’s Search. If the company is listed there, they’re probably legitimate. But be careful, the scammers know this and will sometimes pose as real companies.

So watch out for all these other warning flags too. And if you’re not sure, call up the mystery shopping provider listed on the website and ask them about that particular shopping campaign. Ask if they have you listed in the system. If they don’t know anything about that particular shop, then it’s most likely a scam.

If you want to learn more about becoming a real mystery shopper, please contact us, we can tell you how it all works, and we can even help you get set up in our system.

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

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

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, the principles are still the same: mobile feedback is a great way to get immediate, real-time feedback from your customers.

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. They can take photos, respond to surveys, and even leave voice comments.

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.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.)—Measure Consumer Perspectives (Measure CP), a leading market research firm and mystery shopping company, announced the release of Envision, powered by Dapresy. This new solution gives businesses an all-in-one visualization platform that transforms any data point — including survey data, marketing, sales, social media, and advertising — into actionable business intelligence.

Envision leverages the breadth of market research data generated by Measure CP’s data collection services, along with best-in-class business intelligence reporting, infographics and storytelling tools, to help businesses better understand the customer experience across all areas.

Data visualization has emerged as an essential business practice with limitless potential, but some companies still struggle to find solutions that match their goals and employee skill set. Envision was designed with a drag-and-drop user interface to simplify the adoption of data visualization technology and make data actionable for everyone.

With Envision, businesses can:

  • Integrate survey data and display it in a way all stakeholders can understand.
  • Create compelling dashboards and reports using Envision’s more than 2,000 infographics.
  • Export dashboards and reports instead of building presentations in PowerPoint.
  • Track and analyze all sales, marketing, social media, advertising and survey data in a single platform.
  • Involve entire teams in decision-making and give individuals at all levels the power to use data for themselves.

Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP

Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP

“With so much data and not always plentiful information, Envision will simply reporting at all levels of an organization by beautifully displaying data with our dashboards in a meaningful and easy to understand way,” said Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP.

“We’re excited to launch this very innovative solution allowing businesses the ability to capture their data in a single place and use our library of graphics to build a dynamic dashboard or import their own branded elements.”

Envision is built for companies of all sizes, including large enterprises and small to medium businesses. The platform meets all reporting needs for trackers, syndicated reporting or voice of the customer programs.

Envision is available via a tiered pricing program. Our knowledgeable team will work with customers to determine the best fit for each business’s needs.

About Measure CP

With over 16 years of market research and mystery shopping experience, Measure CP is an innovator and a trusted research partner. Our business was built from the ground up, starting with just a handful of clients to providing some of the world’s largest brands and companies with our unique intelligence and research services.

At Measure CP, we take pride in our ability to deliver wide-ranging data collection capabilities to our clients and cutting edge solutions that offer actionable intelligence. We offer a complete solution for capturing experiences, including mystery shopping, brand auditing, compliance checks, and field research. Measure CP uses traditional, mobile, geocoded, and hidden camera technologies in order to bring pertinent insights to clients about brand, customer, and service experiences. These insights — enhanced with robust reporting and integrated with customer, employee, social and sales data — help tell a more accurate story about the brand-health of an organization.

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Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

(This article originally appeared in the Louisville Business First magazine. We have published it on the Measure CP website to share with our friends.)

The National Association of Women Business Owners’ (NAWBO) Louisville chapter celebrated female business owners Tuesday evening at its 20th annual EPIC Awards event.

NAWBO presented Woman Business Owner of the Year awards in large- and small-business categories during the event, which was held at the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center.

Diane Medley, a CPA and managing partner at Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP, was the recipient in the large-business category.

In 1988, Medley co-founded Chilton & Medley LLP, which merged with Mountjoy & Bressler LLP in 2009 to form Mountjoy Chilton Medley. It is the largest accounting firm in Louisville with 117 local accountants, according to Business First’s Feb. 21 list of the largest area accounting firms.

Medley is the only female managing partner in the United States’ top 100 professional and financial service firms. In 1995, she was one of Business First’s Who’s Who in Finance and Accounting.

The other finalists in the large-business category were Theresa Hinton, owner of Capacity Care Inc., and Kathy Mills, CEO of Strategic Communications.

Also at tonight’s event, NAWBO named Maggie Heely, owner of Event Warriors and Weekend Wedding Warrior LLC, its Woman Business Owner of the Year in the small-business category. Both of Heely’s businesses are event-management companies.

Heely moved to Louisville in 2009 with her husband, U.S. Army Captain Eric C. Heely. She has since become involved in the Junior League of Louisville, Kentucky Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, Association of Bridal Consultants, Wish Upon a Wedding and Greater Louisville Outstanding Women.

The other finalists in the small-business category were: Lauren Coulter, co-owner of Uptown Art Louisville & Uptown Art New Albany; Maggie Payette Harlow, owner of Signarama Downtown; Kimberly Nasief, president and co-founder of Measure CP; Stephanie Ringer, chief fun officer at WorkShop, the creative workplace; and Peggy Noe Stevens of Peggy Noe Stevens & Associates.

NAWBO presented its Samuel G. Swope Humanitarian Award to Harlow for her community service work and community involvement. This is the first year for the Swope award.

Harlow owns Sign-A-Rama Downtown Louisville and Transworld Business Advisors of Louisville.

She has served as president of Louisville’s NAWBO chapter and is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Louisville.

In 2007, Harlow and her husband, Brian Harlow, started Signs of Support and have given away nearly $100,000 worth of signs and services to charities.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

LOUISVILLE, KY (Nov. 5, 2013)— Measure CP, a Louisville-based brand auditing firm, has been awarded the Better Business Bureau of Louisville’s prestigious 2013 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics in the small business category.

“This is a great honor for us,” said Kimberly Nasief, founder and president of Measure CP. “I started this organization to help other companies pay more attention to how they were treating their customers. It feels good to know that we are seen as practicing what we preach – especially by the BBB.”

kim_torch_awardThe BBB Torch Awards are open to all businesses and non-profit organizations that serve the Louisville, KY, Southern Indiana, and Western Kentucky markets, which have been in business at least three years and are in good standing with the BBB. Nominees are evaluated on four criteria: management practices, community/investor/stakeholder relations, communications and marketing practices and industry reputation.

“Winning a BBB Torch Award says a lot about a business’s reputation,” said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, BBB spokesperson, Better Business Bureau. “It’s business consumers can trust. BBB is proud to have Measure Consumer Perspectives as a BBB Torch Award winner and BBB-accredited business.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, the Torch Award honors businesses and non-profit organizations that maintain a solid commitment to conducting their business practices in an ethical fashion. The award supports their mission to promote and foster the highest ethical relationship between businesses and the public through voluntary self-regulation, consumer and business education and service excellence.

Measure CP is the next generation of consumer brand auditing, focusing on customer experience management by combining traditional mystery shopping and brand auditing with the most advanced mobile and social media tools to provide a 3-Dimensional view of clients’ brands and the customer service that defines them. Measure CP performs hundreds of thousands of mystery shops and brand audits each year, from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon and all over the globe.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

The Louisville Business Journal named its 50 fastest growing businesses for 2013, and Measure CP was fortunate to be named one of the top 50!

Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP, one of Louisville's business leaders

Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP

We are very pleased to be recognized by the city and its business leaders for our work in helping companies reach their customers, protect their brand, and improve customer service. We have spent the last several years trying to serve our clients around the country, and our company has grown up around that mission.

Kimberly Nasief, President and founder of Measure CP, said, “I’m very proud of our staff and the hard work they’ve done, because it has contributed to our great growth. And this has helped us become one of Louisville’s fastest growing companies.”

Measure CP prides itself on delivering clients cutting edge solutions offering actionable intelligence — a platform offering wide-ranging data collection capabilities. Offering mystery shopping, brand auditing, compliance checks, and field research, we offer a complete solution for capturing experiences.

We use traditional, mobile, geocoded, and hidden camera technologies in order to bring clients pertinent insights into the brand, customer, and service experiences. These insights, enhanced with robust reporting, integrates customer, employee, brand, social, and sales data that tells a story about the brand health of the organization.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

(HOUSTON, TX) — September 10, 2013 — Proactive customer experience management is paramount in today’s competitive landscape. Both B2C and B2B companies have experienced the shift toward customer focused selling, and those driven to succeed are employing customer experience management strategies to both gain and retain business.

Furthermore, the proliferation of social media has armed consumers with powerful tools for sharing their experiences – good and bad – with a worldwide audience within moments of an impression. Kimberly Nasief, president and founder of Measure CP, a mystery shopping and brand auditing firm, understands first-hand the need for social media to play a key role in customer experience management.

Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP, led a panel discussion at a customer experience management forum in Houston

Kimberly Nasief, CEO and founder of Measure CP

Nasief moderated a panel discussion at Consero’s Customer Experience Forum guiding B2B and B2C industry leaders through a spirited discussion on the vital task of linking the voice of the customer (VOC) to operations.

“This forum is a unique opportunity for Fortune 100 to 500 executives to come together to share their strategies and learn from one another in this ever-changing world of new communication mediums,” Nasief said.

Attendees of the forum, such as those from HEB, Citi, Citrix Systems, Whataburger Restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings, Nokia, UMB Financial, Texas Capital Bank, 24-Hour Fitness, United Capital Financial Partners, Jaguar Land Rover, Levi Strauss, and eBay, are tasked daily with sifting through endless communication streams to determine what feedback is relevant.  The work starts there.  In actuality, it is what a company does with the feedback that has the ability to serve in a way that reinforces the brand promise.

“We use valuable programs from Measure CP to document the customer’s view throughout the customer lifecycle, from acquisition to end-of-life, to show the customer experience in real time,” said Jack Roldan, Manager of Customer Experience and CRM for Cricket Communications.  “A dashboard is shared company-wide to bring everyone into the process, because when they are able to view things from the customer’s perspective, service improves.”

Customer experience management is only starting to emerge as a standard amongst more traditional marketing tools, but those businesses who have an invested effort in early engagement are already realizing huge rewards.

About Measure CP

Measure CP helps B2C and B2B companies track and improve the customer experience by combining traditional mystery shopping, online reputation management and brand auditing with the most current technology and social media tools to provide a 3-Dimensional view of a client’s brand and the customer service that defines it. To learn more, visit our website at MeasureCP.com

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

(LOUISVILLE) — May 22, 2013 – The Kentucky Small Business Development Center held its annual Kentucky Pacesetter Awards at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, Ky. The Kentucky Pacesetter Awards recognize high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing the economic landscape of Kentucky.

Kimberly Nasief holding Measure CP's Kentucky Pacesetter awardThe Kentucky Pacesetter Business Recognition Program recognized Measure Consumer Perspectives as a high performing second-stage Kentucky small businesses that is producing innovative products, increasing sales, creating jobs and serving communities of the Commonwealth. All winners were selected based on their intent and capacity to grow based on two or more of the following categories:

  • Growth in number of employees
  • Increase in sales and/or unit volume
  • Innovativeness of the product of service
  • Response to adversity
  • Employee engagement and commitment
  • Contribution to aide community-oriented projects
  • Other criteria contributing to the business’ success

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has been assisting the Commonwealth’s small business community for more than 25 years. With 15 service centers statewide and an experienced and knowledgeable staff, KSBDC provides unparalleled consulting and training services that help existing business owners and potential entrepreneurs succeed. Our services include: one-on-one management consultations, training workshops, market research, loan packaging help, assistance with financial projections and information needed to make informed business decisions.

KSBDC is co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is administered by the University of Kentucky in partnership with regional universities, community and private colleges, and the private sector.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 3, 2013) – The Kentucky Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) will induct the sixth class of the Kentucky Business Pacesetters on May 22 in Frankfort at the Capitol Rotunda. The Kentucky Business Pacesetter Program honors high performing, second-stage businesses that are producing innovative products, increasing sales, creating jobs and serving communities in Kentucky.

This year’s outstanding Kentucky businesses are:

  • Artemis Electronics, LLC (Prospect)
  • Browns Valley Truck Equipment (Utica)
  • Drug Testing Centers of America (Paintsville)
  • Giovanni’s Pizza (Pikeville)
  • Great Northern Building Products, LLC (Louisville)
  • Lexington Contracting, LLC (Lexington)
  • Measure Consumer Perspectives (Louisville)
  • Unique Granite and Marble (Owensboro)

“The Kentucky Business Pacesetters program highlights outstanding businesses operating in and contributing to Kentucky’s economy. It is an absolute pleasure to commend their successes.” — KSBDC State Director Becky Naugle

Businesses were selected based on nominations that indicated that each business is changing the economic landscape of Kentucky by introducing innovative products; increasing sales and/or production; boosting employment; and, serving the communities of Kentucky.

Pacesetters will be recognized in front of government leaders, small business owners and advocates at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 22 in Frankfort. In addition, they will attend a private luncheon at the Governor’s mansion.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

By WILLIAM GRIMES, nytimes.com

view article at its original source

A commercial transaction, in its simplest form, involves a customer paying for goods or services. But these days, that is just the first step.

Businesses want your opinion of them, too, and their requests for feedback, like relentless tugs on the sleeve, now seem to come with every purchase, every call to a customer service department and every click of a mouse that is followed with a pop-up ad pleading with users to take a survey about the “Web site experience.”

On the telephone, in the mail, on their computers, smartphones and iPads, American consumers are being solicited as never before to express their feelings about coffeemakers, hand creams, triple-bypass operations, veterinarians, dry cleaners and insurance agents.

One reason is that software companies like SurveyGizmo and QuestionPro have made it possible for small companies to create customer surveys at a fraction of the cost of traditional surveys done by established research companies. Businesses of all sizes, desperate to lock in customer loyalty, see surveys as a window into the emotional world of their customers and a database that will offer guidance on how to please them.

“It’s like the gold rush now,” said Jonathan D. Barsky, a founder of Market Metrix, which develops systems for measuring customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry. “Anyone who can craft a customer survey and throw it on the Internet is doing it.”

There is no way to determine exactly how many consumer satisfaction surveys are completed each year, but Mindshare Technologies, a small company that conducts and analyzes on-the-spot electronic surveys, says it completes 175,000 surveys every day, or more than 60 million annually.

ForeSee, an offshoot of the American Customer Satisfaction Index in Ann Arbor, Mich., a company that measures consumer sentiment about business and government, says it collected 15 million surveys in 2011.

Consumer patience may be fraying under the onslaught. The constant nagging has led to a condition known as survey fatigue and declining response rates over the last decade.

“The frequent requests to fill out these surveys, especially with no incentives, have been so annoying that people just stop doing it,” said Richard L. Oliver, a professor of management at Vanderbilt University and the author of the textbook “Satisfaction: A Behavioral Perspective on the Consumer” (McGraw Hill, 1996). “In the old days, you felt as though you had been selected to represent the community, or even the nation. But this is the information age, and people know their information is worth something.”

If customers balk at taking what can feel like an SAT test, the fault may lie with the surveys themselves. Many businesses, often against the advice of the experts they have hired to construct their questionnaires, cannot resist the urge to ask, ask and ask yet again. Exasperated consumers, assured that the survey will take only five minutes to complete, often bail out as they approach the 10-minute mark.

Kimberly Nasief, the owner of Measure Consumer Perspectives, a company that sends mystery shoppers into stores, fills out customer satisfaction surveys out of professional interest. She recently wrote a screed on her blog, Service Witch, about the excessive length and lack of focus in most online surveys.

“The one that broke my back was a survey for Babies ‘R’ Us,” she said in an interview. “I wrote a blog entry, ‘Infant Who Begins Babies “R” Us Customer Satisfaction Survey Dies of Old Age.’ ”

In an act of revenge, she has posted videos on YouTube showing the painful process of filling out her least favorite surveys, from Walmart, Wendy’s, Continental Airlines, and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores — this last is an epic requiring two videos.

To counter survey fatigue, companies are pressing consumers with renewed urgency. On their register receipts, stores like Walmart, Petco and Rite Aid include a Web address and an invitation to fill out a survey, with the chance to win a prize. At Staples, the prize is a $5,000 store card.

In the auto industry, which tries to measure customer satisfaction at every possible stage, from the first tentative Web search to the last service visit, the assessment ritual can become a kind of performance.

Sales representatives have been known to show pictures of their wives and children as they plead for a favorable review in their dealership’s satisfaction survey. Some show their customers a sample survey already ticked off with top marks in every rating category. Dealers sometimes throw in a free tank of gas or a free oil change as a quid pro quo.

Pressure tactics have crept into other industries as well. Cable technicians, after completing an installation or repair, often call into the head office to report and then hand their cellphone over to the customer for a quick round of questioning about the service, an awkward conversation with the technician standing a few feet away.

Sales clerks who once concluded a transaction with “Have a nice day” now plead with customers to fill out surveys and award good marks because “my job depends on it.”

For beleaguered consumers, the forecast looks grim: more questionnaires. Although businesses now harvest a wealth of information on social media and opinion sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, they are unlikely to abandon the customer satisfaction surveys, for at least two reasons.

“From social media you can gauge sentiment and to a lesser extent underlying emotional content,” said Leonard Murphy, who writes for the marketing blog GreenBook. “But you won’t be able to determine why the customer feels that way. A survey gives you the opportunity to dig deeper.”

Traditional surveys are also deeply embedded in the salary and bonus structures of big companies, which have accumulated decades’ worth of information and statistics that analysts use for year-to-year comparisons.

There may be a third powerful force that will keep the consumer survey alive — the cult of the personal opinion and information exchange that Internet culture has nourished among younger Americans.

“Young people send and receive communications at a rate we’ve never seen before,” said Claes G. Fornell, founder of the American Customer Satisfaction Index and a professor at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

“They don’t seem to mind answering surveys if they’re not too long,” he added. “When you think about it, the whole concept of social media is, I’m going to give my opinion whether I’m asked or not.”

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

Businesses can’t stop asking “How am I doing?” and it’s leading to survey fatigue, as reported by the New York Times. Our president, Kimberly Nasief, was quoted in the article:

Kimberly Nasief, the owner of Measure Consumer Perspectives, a company that sends mystery shoppers into stores, fills out customer satisfaction surveys out of professional interest. She recently wrote a screed on her blog, Service Witch, about the excessive length and lack of focus in most online surveys.

“The one that broke my back was a survey for Babies ‘R’ Us,” she said in an interview. “I wrote a blog entry, ‘Infant Who Begins Babies “R” Us Customer Satisfaction Survey Dies of Old Age.’ ”

In an act of revenge, she has posted videos on YouTube showing the painful process of filling out her least favorite surveys, from Walmart, Wendy’s, Continental Airlines, and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores — this last is an epic requiring two videos.

Asking “How am I doing?” is important. But you don’t need to ask all the time. Work with a professional mystery shopping agency instead, and you can give your customers a much-needed break.

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Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

Customer service should be at the top of any CMO’s priority list, making sure the customers are satisfied with their experience, and be willing to listen to them for future feedback. And the post on today’s Marketing Tech Blog from Douglas Karr illustrates this point perfectly. (Disclosure: I appeared on Doug’s Marketing Tech Radio show last year.) He discusses this year’s IBM Global CMO Study (released after “face-to-face interviews with 1,734 CMOs spanning 19 industries and 64 countries”), which studied what the CMOs thought were their most important priorities for the year.

Based on the results, IBM made these observations:

These conversations and our in-depth analysis of study findings underscore the need to respond to three new realities:

  • The empowered customer is now in control of the business relationship
  • Delivering customer value is paramount — and an organization’s behavior is as important as the products and services it provides
  • The pressure to be accountable to the business is not just a symptom of hard times, but a permanent shift that requires new approaches, tools and skills.

Table of CMO Priorites for 2012

This is interesting, exciting stuff for anyone who is in the customer service or customer experience management business.

  • It means that CMOs are recognizing that they no longer control their brand or their customer relationships, the people do. This means they have to listen to the customer.
  • The customer experience is just as important as the products or services the company offers. This means they have to interact with the customer.
  • Over 2/3 of the CMOs recognize that customer loyalty is the top priority. This means they recognize the changing landscape of customer service.
  • Priorities #3 and #5 demonstrate the importance of using social media to both engage with their customers, as well as monitor their customer experience management efforts. That is, if people are happy (or upset), they’ll share it via social media. And if companies are on the ball, they’ll respond and engage on social media as well.

For anyone in customer experience management, these are some important shifts in the thinking of CMOs. They recognize that a) social media is not a passing fad, and b) the voice of the customer has gotten louder than ever.

This even demonstrates the blurring of the lines between the customer service department and the marketing department, and the idea that bad customer service now equals bad marketing.

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Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

Customer experience management is going to undergo some serious changes in the coming months, thanks to mobile technology and social media. And I can make a pretty good guess as to what the most important changes will be.

I realize I’m a month behind in making any kinds of predictions for 2012, but I had to wait for all the furor of the typical predictions to wind down before I started. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to predict. There are a lot of disruptions that are entering the customer experience management field, and it’s important that anyone in customer service or mystery shopping be able to take advantage of them. Here are the four that I think will affect the customer experience management field the most.

1. Social media will become important for everyone, not just the early adopters. No matter what business you’re in, you need to be on social media. If not for you, at least so you know what your customers are saying about you. With a 40+% penetration rate of smartphones in the cell phone market, your customers can start sharing their experience — and complaining about or praising your business — while they’re still in it. If you don’t know what’s going on as it happens, how are you going to keep them satisfied?

2. Video mystery shopping will grow. Now that most cell phones come with video cameras, including the flip phones, anyone can be a video mystery shopper, whether they’re hired by a company like Measure CP, or they run their own customer service blog, like ServiceWitch.com. All they have to do is tuck the camera into a shirt pocket with the lens poking out, record the video (as long as you are in a “one-party state“), and put it up on their blog.

3. Review sites will become more important to your customers. One thing social media has done for us is to make finding information easier, as well as learning what our friends think. Not only is Google starting to share search results from your friends with their My World, but sites like Yelp and even Google Maps are starting to collect reviews and recommendations from people, and sharing them about restaurants, stores, and even doctors and dentists. People will start making decisions about whether to visit your restaurant, store, or office, based on what other people say about you. And, more importantly, this information is all available via cell phone.

4. Text-based customer feedback will become more popular. Nearly everyone texts on a cell phone now, so more and more companies — especially restaurants and retail stores — are turning to texting as a way to elicit customer feedback. Just put out table tents with the text feedback number, and customers will give you their feedback before they even leave. Imagine being able to solve a problem while the customer is still there. Not only can you save the relationship, you can even grow future goodwill.

Photo credit: stoneysteiner (Flickr)

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Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

I know this is a blog generally reserved for mystery shop talk, but let’s discuss Twitter for a moment, shall we? The Internet has really complicated the way we deliver customer service and interact with our customers. I would argue that it’s both brought us closer to and distanced us from our most engaged, passionate customers: It gives us intimate insight into their thoughts and opinions, but if we miss out on what they’re saying or, worse, ignore it, then we’ve missed a huge opportunity to do right by them.

Honestly, with services like Twitter gaining popularity, every customer can be a mystery shopper of sorts. The key here is never to take these users’ comments at face value; examine them as a whole, listen to everything that’s said, and always look at the bigger picture — but never ignore the individual.

There have been books written on how and why you should use Twitter for customer service. I could probably write one here. And there are a lot of great examples out there of major companies using Twitter — Zappos, McDonald’s, Comcast, Whole Foods, Starbucks — but they all have one thing in common… THEY LISTEN.

The biggest mistake a company can make on Twitter is using it only to blast out content. Information on sales, specials of the day, news releases, random information about hours and such…well, it doesn’t matter. The more you write about yourself, the more you’re talking into a void of Twitter irrelevance.

Say you’re a restaurant. Your server would never walk up to the table and start talking incessantly to the table. There’s certainly room to discuss the specials and make recommendations, but there needs to be a conversation to figure out what the customer wants and how the restaurant can accommodate.

If the kitchen screws up the order and the customer complains, would the server gloss right over that complaint and take the dessert orders? Would he ignore a very clear message from the customer and simply bring the check? Of course not — but that’s what many companies who fail at Twitter do.

Yes, there are plenty of dos and don’ts to providing good customer service on Twitter, but the biggest one is this: You have to listen. Set up alerts for your business’s name. Find local users who are interested in the types of services you provide, and talk to them. Even if they aren’t talking about you. Start a conversation.

If they are talking about you — good or bad — use that opportunity to let your personality shine. Show them who you are; show them you care. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when people realize there’s a human behind your brand, especially when that person is caring, compassionate and concerned with their satisfaction.

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Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

LOUISVILLE, KY – (March 31, 2010) Measure Consumer Perspectives, a global mystery shopping and consumer feedback company, was recently named to the High Impact Portfolio as one of the top fast-growth companies headquartered in the Metro Louisville Region. The High Impact Program, a  public/private partnership between Louisville Metro Government and Greater Louisville Inc.’s (GLI) ENTERPRISECORP, introduced the newest companies selected to the High Impact Portfolio during the State of Entrepreneurship Breakfast on March 31, at the Olmsted.

Measure Consumer Perspectives is dedicated to providing clients with cutting-edge customer feedback services using both traditional and emerging feedback mechanisms. We are committed to providing our clients with exceptional customer service and offering access to our team 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

The High Impact program strives to nurture the prosperity of Greater Louisville’s growth businesses. Initiated by Mayor Jerry Abramson in 2003, the High Impact Program identifies companies meeting specific criteria are named to the High Impact Portfolio.

“It is a great honor to be named to the High Impact Portfolio,” said Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, president and founder of Measure Consumer Perspectives. “We are thrilled to be headquartered in Louisville and selected among such an amazing group of companies.”

“The innovation and accomplishments of these companies during challenging economic times demonstrates the significant contributions these fast-growth businesses are making to our regional economy,” said Mark Crane.

Collectively, High Impact Portfolio companies represent $2.3 billion in annual revenues; have a 36 percent average growth rate; have created nearly 3,000 new jobs in our region; and have invested $438 million over the last four years.

About Measure Consumer Perspectives

Measure Consumer Perspectives provides brand and quality assurance audits, loss prevention services, and mystery shopping and reputation monitoring services in more than 30 countries. Measure provides highly customized and flexible programs that deliver results to HR, Operations, Marketing and Training. Our tools succinctly and clearly measure ground floor protocol, process, and perceptions. Our clients’ information is housed in one of the most robust and secure databases in the world. Clients are able to access our customized reporting suite in real time. Our team is available to clients 24/7, because real time questions need real time answers. Co-Founders include Kimberly Nasief-Westergren and Kent Oyler

About the High Impact Program

The High Impact program strives to nurture the prosperity of Greater Louisville’s growth businesses. The High Impact Program is a public/private partnership, initiated by Mayor Jerry Abramson, funded by Louisville Metro Government and administered by GLI’s ENTERPRISECORP – that identifies and serves fast growth companies, companies with the potential for fast growth and those companies that enable growth in others. This program focuses on companies of these types headquartered in Louisville that have a disproportionately higher impact on the metro area economy. For more information on the High Impact Program, visit www.HighImpactLouisville.com.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

March 31, 2010 — View the PDF

High Impact Program identifies Louisville’s top fast-growth companies

LOUISVILLE, KY – (March 31, 2010) Measure Consumer Perspectives, a global mystery shopping and consumer feedback company, was recently named to the High Impact Portfolio as one of the top fast-growth companies headquartered in the Metro Louisville Region. The High Impact Program, a  public/private partnership between Louisville Metro Government and Greater Louisville Inc.’s (GLI) ENTERPRISECORP, introduced the newest companies selected to the High Impact Portfolio during the State of Entrepreneurship Breakfast on March 31, at the Olmsted.

Measure Consumer Perspectives is dedicated to providing clients with cutting-edge customer feedback services using both traditional and emerging feedback mechanisms. We are committed to providing our clients with exceptional customer service and offering access to our team 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

The High Impact program strives to nurture the prosperity of Greater Louisville’s growth businesses. Initiated by Mayor Jerry Abramson in 2003, the High Impact Program identifies companies meeting specific criteria are named to the High Impact Portfolio.

“It is a great honor to be named to the High Impact Portfolio,” said Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, president and founder of Measure Consumer Perspectives. “We are thrilled to be headquartered in Louisville and selected among such an amazing group of companies.”

“The innovation and accomplishments of these companies during challenging economic times demonstrates the significant contributions these fast-growth businesses are making to our regional economy,” said Mark Crane.

Collectively, High Impact Portfolio companies represent $2.3 billion in annual revenues; have a 36 percent average growth rate; have created nearly 3,000 new jobs in our region; and have invested $438 million over the last four years.

About Measure Consumer Perspectives

Measure Consumer Perspectives provides brand and quality assurance audits, loss prevention services, and mystery shopping and reputation monitoring services in more than 30 countries. Measure provides highly customized and flexible programs that deliver results to HR, Operations, Marketing and Training. Our tools succinctly and clearly measure ground floor protocol, process, and perceptions. Our clients’ information is housed in one of the most robust and secure databases in the world. Clients are able to access our customized reporting suite in real time. Our team is available to clients 24/7, because real time questions need real time answers. Co-Founders include Kimberly Nasief-Westergren and Kent Oyler

About the High Impact Program

The High Impact program strives to nurture the prosperity of Greater Louisville’s growth businesses. The High Impact Program is a public/private partnership, initiated by Mayor Jerry Abramson, funded by Louisville Metro Government and administered by GLI’s ENTERPRISECORP – that identifies and serves fast growth companies, companies with the potential for fast growth and those companies that enable growth in others. This program focuses on companies of these types headquartered in Louisville that have a disproportionately higher impact on the metro area economy. For more information on the High Impact Program, visit www.HighImpactLouisville.com.

 

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

View in its original source

Interview of our President and Founder, Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, printed in Business First of Louisville.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

Business First — Monday, July 6, 2009 View in its original source

Business First has selected its 2009 Forty Under 40 honorees. Each year since 1996, Business First has recognized 40 young professionals for their business success and civic contributions, and our president and founder, Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, was named to the list.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

Measure Consumer Perspectives is a proud sponsor of the Jewish Family and Vocational Service’s 2008 Mosaic Awards. The Mosaic Awards are a salute to New Americans who have made significant contributions in their professional fields and in the Louisville community.

News

Beware, the Mystery Shopper Scam is still Going Strong

Kimberly Nasief-Westergren aims to help companies gain glimpse into consumers’ minds via mystery shopping

Monday, March 17, 2008 — Business First

A woman posing as a customer walks into a bar where an alcoholic beverage is being promoted. She scans the place, checking to see if advertising materials are in place.

She chats with the bartender to see whether he recommends the drink. Then she places her order and makes a mental note of the level of service, the cleanliness of the bar and the quality of the drink. Within 24 hours of leaving the venue, she files an online report that details her experience.

That, in a nutshell, is mystery shopping, a practice that allows companies to gain customer feedback and improve on operations, training and marketing efforts.

Companies have used mystery shoppers for years to get an inside view of customer experiences.

But Louisville business owner Kimberly Nasief-Westergren believes her new firm, Measure Consumer Perspectives LLC, can take that practice one step further. Matching shoppers with industries

Launched in January, Measure Consumer Perspectives offers mystery-shopping services in a variety of industries.

Like the competition, Measure searches its database of several thousand mystery shoppers nationwide, who work as independent contractors, to find a shopper who fits a client’s preferred demographic.

But Measure is finalizing another piece of technology, a behavioral test, that will let clients tap into shoppers’ motives.

Beyond basic demographics, the company can get a picture of how a mystery shopper thinks and acts. Measure Consumer Perspective then can use that information to select shoppers who mirror a specific consumer profile instead of recruiting a general shopper to handle the job.

The feedback that person offers becomes much more valuable because it allows the company to replicate the consumer experience, Nasief-Westergren said.

She is working with technology vendors who have developed the behavioral component, which will be integrated into Measure Consumer Perspective’s existing system. Rapidly expanding client roster

The new service is scheduled to launch in early April, Nasief-Westergren said, but the concept already is attracting customers.

Measure has signed nine clients, ranging in size from Louisville’s Tony Boombozz pizza chain to Regis Corp., a Minneapolis-based company that operates more than 12,000 hair salons worldwide.

Entree Vous, a Lexington-based company that offers take-and-bake meals at 52 franchised locations across the country, also has signed with Measure.

Carrie Prewitt, marketing director for Entree Vous, said her company is at the very early stages of the mystery-shopping process.

But the company is working on advertising initiatives for stores in Colorado, and she believes sending mystery shoppers into those locations will help Entree Vous to better monitor its progress.

Prewitt, who has worked with other mystery-shopping firms in the past, said she has been pleased with the system that Measure has in place for contacting shoppers, and she is intrigued by the idea of behavioral testing.

“Any time you can drill down and identify specific characteristics, it’s very valuable,” she said.

Nasief-Westergren said the company is on track to handle about 24,000 mystery-shopping excursions in its first year, and she anticipates it will generate at least $500,000 in revenue.

She expects to become profitable by the second quarter of 2008, although several deals are in the works that could help the company cross that threshold by the end of the first quarter. Lean business model

Measure Consumer Perspectives was formed with a model that allows it to expand rapidly.

The company outsources many of its administrative functions, including financial oversight, the recruitment of shoppers and the editing of incoming mystery-shopping reports.

Analysis of the consumer feedback and any related reports are generated in-house.

Nasief-Westergren plans to bring another business-development employee on board within 45 days.

The company also has a part-time employee who will transition into a full-time role with the company, which would give the company four full-time workers.

Nasief-Westergren is enthusiastic about where the company is headed. “I feel like we have a fresh perspective on the best practices within the industry,” she said. Mystery at work

For entrepreneur Kimberly Nasief-Westergren, there is little mystery surrounding the practice of recruiting undercover shoppers to gain valuable consumer feedback.

In 2001, she started Marketing Endeavors, a Louisville-based mystery-shopping firm. For six years, she learned the industry as her business grew.

In August, Nasief-Westergren sold her stake in the company to her two business partners and started working on a new firm, Measure Consumer Perspectives LLC.

The decision to launch a new venture stemmed from her desire to concentrate solely on mystery shopping. Marketing Endeavors had started doing market research in other areas.

Measure Consumer Perspectives will keep its focus narrow, she said, which will allow it to form partnerships with other market-research firms instead of competing with them. Measure Consumer Perspectives LLC