In these tough economic times, many clothing retailers have experienced a hit as customers are holding a little more tightly to their disposable income. Consumers might not be as willing to splurge on the latest trend, or they might decide that last year’s wardrobe can get them through another year. Another threat to brick-and-mortar clothing stores is the fact that more and more customers aren’t leaving their homes to “go shopping” — they’re buying more clothing online. So when customers decide they are going to spend money, and they are going to leave the comfort of their homes, they want that experience to be worth it.
This is when clothing retailers can really step it up. The customer can often get the same product online, for the same price. What she can’t get, however, is the customer service that only physically being in the store can provide. Good customer service is the key factor that will separate you from the pack and encourage those happy customers to keep returning. But how do you know if your store’s customer service is meeting (or better yet, exceeding) customer expectations?
From big-box retailers to the smallest boutique, clothing retailers are hiring mystery shoppers to objectively evaluate customer service by reenacting a visit to the store. Mystery shopping companies provide data from individuals who don’t know you or your employees, so they are able to give a neutral, third party view from a customer’s perspective. The focus point is not on the product, but on the customer.
Here are some typical things secret shoppers might evaluate:
- Look/Appearance of store (exterior and interior)
- Signage visibility
- Time it took to be contacted
- Personal appearance of employees
- Helpfulness of employees
- If a certain promotion or sale was mentioned
- Handicap accessibility
- Restroom facilities
The compilation of data you receive from mystery shopping can:
- Determine areas of weakness and strength
- Develop, refine, or evaluate a training program
- Help you create an incentive program for your employees to perform well
- Act as criteria for managers’ bonuses
- Help you find out what your competitors are doing
You can find reputable mystery shopping companies by asking for referrals from others in your industry, or by checking with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association at 847-375-4743 or on the web at www.mysteryshop.com.
- Getting Paid to Tell Lies: Mystery Shopping as a Frugal Hack (getrichslowly.org)
- What Is a Mystery Shopper? (brainz.org)