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Gathering of Competitive Intelligence For Your Business

Competitive Intelligence

We began conducting competitive intelligence for our clients over fifteen years ago. Back then, we primarily used Mystery Shopping as a way to gain valuable information for our clients on their top competitors. We have worked with start ups, established businesses as well as companies who need information for the acquisition process.

Types of Competitive Intelligence Gained:

  1. Website Impressions: Your website is your business. While it may look great to you, unless you research how it resonates with your customers, you may never know the truth. Same is true for a competitive mystery shop. Ease of use is very important as well as using very understandable language surrounding service offerings.
Competitive Intelligence
Website Impression

2. Contact us: Be sure to test this area through every channel possible and then gauge the amount of time it takes for a representative to get back to you. In an April blog post, we shared a case study where it took a representative 6 days to get in touch with our evaluator posing as a potential business customer.

3. Pricing: Asking for a quote after going through the sales process is usually the top determining factor for conducting the research in the first place. Additionally, we upload all marketing collateral right within the evaluation form.

4. Follow up: How well does the representative follow up? Depending on the scope of work, we usually allow 5 business days to measure this. Many times, there isn’t any follow up at all.

Social Media Competitor Analysis

According to Hootesuite, social media competitive analysis, includes the following:

  • Identify who your competitors are on social media
  • Know which social platforms they’re on
  • Know how they’re using those platforms
  • Understand how well their social strategy is working
  • Benchmark your social results against the competition
  • Identify social threats to your business
  • Find gaps in your own social media strategy

When was the last time you took a closer look at your competition?


3 Examples of How to Talk the Language of Your Customer

When I think about how brands “talk” to their customers effectively, I always think of Target. This goes back a few years now, but Target was a brand that listened in social media and used social media to learn not only what customers where saying about them, but also how they talked about them. They paid close attention to their customer’s voice and it has paid off for them in a big way.

Let’s go to “Tar-jay”

From Retail Drive:

“Social media has been key for the retailer getting its “Tar-jay” image back. The brand has 29 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While 24 million of those consumers come by way of Facebook, interestingly, Target treats each social channel with a different content mindset. Facebook and Twitter posts present, at times, fun posts such as: “Hello, I’m a Target. You may know me from my greatest hits including: ‘I only need one thing.’ ‘This is only a dollar?!’ ‘I should’ve grabbed a cart.’ And, ‘Thanks, I got it from Target.’ Such whimsical notes are mixed with more transactional content such as discount reveals or buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) offers.” Target has figured out that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to listening to their customers. Segmenting the customer’s voice between each social platform is a strategy that has worked!

Tar-Jay and Target

So, Tar-Jay just sounds sexier and more affluent. This appealed to the Gen Z and Millennial crowd quite a bit as they were able to shop for fun stuff much cheaper than going to specialty stores. I am sure Target listened by using traditional market research, as well as social. Customer feedback, mystery shopping, focus groups, along with social research are all effective ways to listen to your customer’s voice.

Need to Make a Target-Run

“How does every Target run end up costing me at least $50?” “Because you say you’re only getting milk and paper towels, and then you come home with 12 other things.”

What came first the chicken or the egg? In this case, Target brilliantly coined this term and it resonated with their shopper base. This marketing message stuck with consumers for over 20 years! A few years back they began to develop the saying a bit more.

Target Run and Done

You can now listen to people say, Target, run and done! Target’s Shipt service (Target acquired the start up company back in 2017), has allowed for huge growth in same-day delivery, drive up service and curbside pick up.

“At its core, it’s a campaign designed to help our guests make the most of their day, and an important step in making Target America’s easiest place to shop,” Rick Gomez, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Target, said in a blog post. 

Whether you are talking about Tar-Jay, Target Run, or Target Run and Done, it all revolves around one thing. Consumers enjoy shopping at Target. What more can you ask for?


The Game of Telephone: The Case For Recorded Mystery Shops

customer service

Traditional mystery shopping took a twist when recorded evaluations were introduced, both video & audio. When they first emerged, they were useful for several reasons, some of which include the increased accuracy of reporting and ability to use the recordings for training purposes.

As this type of evaluation took shape, a new use emerged for B2B companies and those with more complex business services. 

Remember the game of telephone, where someone starts by whispering a message in a person’s ear, and that person shares the message with the next person, and so on, until it gets to the last person in the chain? When the last person shares the message, it is often very different from the original message.

On a similar note, have you ever said or emailed something that was not taken as you intended?

This is where recorded evaluations come into play – to ensure messaging and information shared with prospective customers is clear, accurate, and taken as intended.

Let’s face it – you know your industry, products, and services like the back of your hand. Sometimes explaining them using jargon or terms that are every day use for you may not be clear to others. While some may understand, others may not and make their own interpretations. Or it could be something as simple as a prospective customer coming from a different perspective, taking a response to their question differently than you intended.

Benefits of Recorded Evaluations

A company that uses recorded evaluations shared this type of experience. Their business is a financial lending institution. There are a lot of regulations and information around the services they offer, so it is vital that they are not only sharing the right information, but making sure prospective clients understand what is being said.

During a recent evaluation, a shopper was instructed to ask a series of questions to better understand the company’s services. In the narrative detail, the shopper described the sales representative’s response to two specific questions. The client then listened to the recording of the interaction, because the way the shopper described the response was not quite what the sales representative said, but after listening, it was better understood how the shopper could interpret the response in the way he did.

This led the company to revisit how they explain certain aspects of their services; they realized, in reading the shopper’s interpretation of the response and comparing it to the conversation that they were not conveying the information in a way to make it clear and understood as it needed to be.

What’s important to note is that neither side did anything “wrong” – the sales representative did not provide incorrect information, and the shopper did not report the details of the interaction incorrectly; instead, it was a case of information being explained from one perspective and understood from a similar, yet slightly different perspective.

Recorded evaluations were extremely useful in this case for the company to listen to with a critical ear and compare to how the recipient interpreted the responses. Over time they were able to identify areas of messaging that needed to be updated to make their presentation and explanations better.

This is just another use case for recorded evaluations. They can be used for simple operational evaluations but enhanced by including components to evaluate messaging, communication, and improving the potential customer sales cycle. Just something to consider when your company is looking to evaluate the customer experience through mystery shopping services.