When a client calls us looking to do a competitive mystery shopping project, most of the time their focus is on pricing. Once we get into the project however, they tend to learn much more about their competitors than they originally thought.
When we launch a mystery shopping project, we develop a survey with specific questions designed to gather ALL types of intelligence not just pricing. Here is a great example:
The question is “Did the representative attempt to “win” your business by asking for your business today?” For this particular program 70% of the time they did not. So our client can take a look at exactly which companies did not ask for the business. Lost opportunity? It certainly is and our client now has a better understanding of their sales process or lack thereof.
Another great sales question is, “Did the representative inquire if you are also calling for quotes from other businesses?” Using the same project as an example, this was rated negatively 100% of the time.
Poor Customer Service
How good is my competitor’s customer service? This is almost as important as getting their marketing materials and pricing. “Did the representative attempt to establish rapport with you (i.e. were they friendly, attempted to make conversation, get to know you) ?”
Along with the quantitative part of the survey, we also leave room for the mystery shopper to leave details about their experience. Here are a few examples:
I didn’t get the impression that she cared about my business or what my needs were.
I received the quote two business days after I placed the call. The prices in the written quote were different than those that I was quoted by telephone whereby I might or might not do business with this company.
The employee didn’t discuss too much due to her busy schedule. The employee said she would email me the quote.
This is an example of a B2B mystery shopping project. You can see just by looking at the data, that not all companies value customer service. Additionally, pricing quotes came in wrong, calls needed to be made to get clarification. Great information for a business!
Audits are an effective observation tool for evaluating everything from product displays and use of marketing materials, to brand exclusivity, franchise compliance, and even adherence to detailed company standards. During periodic visits, auditors openly evaluate the physical and visual aspects of the site according to your customized checklist.
Brand audits are designed to protect brand image in the context of the physical sales environment. Auditors record location details (which may include digital photographs and embedded video) to confirm that the sales environment mirrors corporate expectations.
These specialized audits help:
Provide visual confirmation of brand presentation and representation
Document that brand integrity is maintained
Appropriately confirm, realign, or reconsider relationships with sales parters.
Legal Compliance Audit
Legal Compliance audits help ensure employees are observing and enforcing the laws and regulations governing your business. Auditors perform specific scenarios to test employee compliance and may take instantly alert the company of the infractions via the Instant Feedback Results feature so that immediate can taken if necessary.
These specialized audits help
Ensure employees understand the importance of industry regulations and the severity of infractions
Protect your company from the repercussions of negligence
Industry Today explains it as follows. “Fundamentally, a retail audit evaluates the condition of your retail location using hard data. Vendors, employees or a third-party scrutinise your store or pop-up shop to gather information on what’s selling well and what isn’t.
Often, retailers use profits as their main method of measuring success, but when you carry out frequent store audits, you have a lot of extra analytics that provide a broader picture of what state your business is in. There are a wide range of areas an audit can focus on including, but not limited to, merchandising audits, competitor pricing audits, inventory loss audits etc.
During a retail audit, you’ll uncover insights such as:
Stock levels (including stock on your shelves and stock out the back)
An outline on what your competitors are doing
Calculations on visual retailing and in-store presentations
Position of shelves, quantity of frontings, amount of SKUs available, misplaced/incorrect shelf tags
An insight into your pricing scheme
Where the products are positioned in store
Bear in mind you’ll also have to select the kind of audit that harmonises with your requirements most.”
Customer Service during the pandemic was something that was not on most people’s radar. For many small businesses, hospitality especially, they did all they could just to stay afloat. As we begin to vaccinate more and more people, businesses are beginning to open up again. With this new reopening comes some challenges. Some previous employees are not returning to work. Good help is becoming harder to find for some industries. As a business owner, you may find yourself in any or all of these challenging situations.
As crazy as it may sound, I believe this is the very best time to create a way to gather customer insights and to evaluate the customer experience. One silver lining for a reset it that it allows a business reinvent themselves. No longer should you just do the status quo. Stepping up your internal measurements by starting with how your customers see you and what they feel can be improved upon.
1. Evaluate Customer Service Levels Before You Get Busy
Unless your business allows you to be present 100% of the time, you need mystery shopping. Mystery shopping measures what you train. Training employees takes a lot of time and resources. Isn’t it worth the time to evaluate its effectiveness? This allows your employees an opportunity to learn. It can do wonders to improve your business by increasing customer service.
Sending in evaluators to measure things like initial greeting, rapport building, listening skills, cross sell or up sell, follow up, etc. can be very eye opening. Most owners believe they know what is happening in their place of business. Once you mystery shop your locations, you may find an entirely different situation. One that can cost you a lot of money.
Beginning a program now is smart because it allows you to see areas that may need improvement before you are back up to 100% capacity. Fixing those areas can be well worth the investment!
2. Gain Customer Service Insights
This may be the best time to gather customer feedback on services, programs, products, etc.. that your business sells. Most people have had to change their way of life for the past year. They are working remotely, teaching their kids at home, shopping differently, etc.. In other words, your customers have changed. How have they changed and how will it impact your business? What can you do now to insure they think of you when they do start going out more regularly again?
Listening to your customers will improve your business by tapping into what is most important to them. Once you have a good understanding of what they are looking for, you can update or add items that may influence their purchases.
3. Competitive Intelligence
Researching your competition is always a good idea and now is no different. Do you have the same competitors as you did a year ago? What are they doing differently? How do their service offerings compare to yours?
What about their pricing? Have they increased or decreased? Gaining these insights now can be of great value in positioning your business down the road.
How do their service levels compare to yours? A great idea is to send your employees in to your competition and use the same evaluation form you currently use for mystery shopping. This not only shows your employees the importance of this type of measurement, they will come away with the differences between your business and the competition; good and bad.
Just taking some proactive measure now will increase sales and profitability down the road.
Mystery shopping has been used by a variety of businesses for decades. Most of the time, mystery shoppers are used to make key evaluations of employee behaviors and to evaluate the customer experience. They evaluate what employers train for. This is used to make sure training is effective and that employees are following guidelines and policies of the company for which they work. It is very effective when done properly and it actually incentivizes employees to do a great job. It is the best feeling in the world to be rewarded for a job well done! Getting a 100% mystery shop report from your employer can mean a lot.
From time to time, hiring a company to send in mystery shoppers is not enough. When employee theft is suspected, it is best to refer to a Private Investigator.
During the past year, we engaged the services of Private Investigators twice. The very first time was for a retail store who sold high end suits. The owner of the company felt that a Sales Associate was “stealing” customers by showing them suit options, and then steering them toward his own online store for a less expensive alternative.
Why not send in a mystery shopper?
Several reasons. The most important reason is the legality. Investigators are trained in the law and know exactly how to gain information that can be used in court if necessary.
Secondly, the gathering of evidence. Private investigators are allowed by law to gather evidence of employee dishonesty and fraud. This is very important because in some cases, it can actually save the company money if the case goes to court.
A Private Investigator has knowledge on how to obtain information on a suspected employee by watching behavior in person (surveillance), and online. We work with Investigators across the United States to assist in the timely online collection of information on a person of interest. Our service, e-chatter, researches online information that is publicly available. If an employee is stealing retail goods for example, many times they will use easy, online ways to sell that merchandise. This breadcrumb can allow the Private Investigator to attempt to make a purchase or attempt a meet up.
Two-thirds of all US-based small businesses fall victim to employee theft, according to employee fraud stats.(National Federation of Independent Business)
According to Certified Fraud Examiners, a typical company can lose up to 5% annually to employee fraud. In fact, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners conducted a study in 2018 titled, “Report to the Nations: 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.” The study included 2,690 known cases. Many do not get reported due to the stigma and bad public relations to the company itself.
The study goes on to reveal some other commonalities.
The overall amount of loss by men is 75 percent larger than those caused by women.
The most common way employee frauds are discovered is via tips.
Internal control weakness is responsible for nearly half of frauds.
Employees committing fraud who have been with their companies longer stole twice as much.
Small businesses lost almost twice as much to fraud per scheme as larger ones.
Contact us if you need direction as to which way to go if you have an internal employee issue. We can get you in touch with the right Investigator for your business.
Last December, a Facebook social media post by an unhappy customer triggered anger among employees. Lidl in Tavistock, Devon had an alleged incident that the company is now investigating. This may be a situation where reputation management went a bit too far.
Customer Service & Social Media
Plymouth Live broke the story about a customer shopping, minding her own business in a Lidl Grocery Store, when suddenly she was asked to step in the back. The shopper first discussed how during a visit, she had her bags looked through by a staff member. The staff member used the excuse that they have had a lot of mystery shoppers in the stores during December. She was very upset and chose to write about her experience in a local Facebook group asking if anyone else had that experience in the store. Her post went too far according to a store employee.
Next time she shops, she is confronted about her Facebook post. During the conversation, she turned on her mobile audio app to record the conversation. It went like this, according the the publication:
The Facebook Post Scolding
“Ana provided Plymouth Live with a recording of the alleged conversation.
In the recording, a person says: “First of all, are you aware we’ve got a customer service number to contact for any issues you might have in store?”
Ana responded: “Sorry?”
He continued: “Are you aware we’ve got a customer service number to contact for any issues you might have in store?”
Ana replied: “Yeah possibly.”
“Lovely. So what I’m going to speak to you about is that you chose to use social media to complain about an individual, one of our members of staff.. You failed to contact a member of staff about an issue you had.
“We’ve got it all documented and passed on to our HR department. So what I’m here to do today is to make sure you’re aware we have ways of dealing with issues. What you failed to do was mention to a member of staff or anyone about the issue.”
Anna replied: “You can’t tell me what I failed to do or what I have and have not done. What I post on Facebook is my choice, and I suffer the consequences. I’ve already sent an email.”
The worker responded: “Perfect, lovely, that’s fantastic. So what I’m saying to you is that I would ask you not to directly put abuse about a young woman on the shop floor who you upset by doing that.”
Ana hit back: “My post is not directed at her. There’s no mention of your member of staff, I can show you my post. It’s asking if other customers experienced the same things. My post is not directed at anyone there’s no name.”
He then said: “You’ve posted something that has incited comments against an individual. What I’m telling you, what I’m asking you to do is to not open abuse to staff who are working through this pandemic..
“What I’m speaking to you about is that there are means and ways of speaking to members of staff. I’m informing you, I’ve never said you’ve done anything other than what you can and can’t do. You can call members of staff if you have any issues.”
What Happens Next
What happens next is that Lidl is investigating the incident and has issued an apology.
A spokesperson for Lidl said: “We were very sorry to hear of this incident and would like to sincerely apologise for any distress caused.
“We can confirm that this is currently being investigated by our regional management team, and that our customer services team are in direct communication with the customer, who will inform them of the outcome.”
How important is the customer greeting? When a customer walks into a place of business, how soon should they be acknowledged with a greeting? This is an area most businesses have struggled with for years.
When we begin a mystery shopping program for a client this question is always front and center. When measuring the time it takes for the customer to be greeted upon entering the store, we must consider a variety of things. Staffing the store with the correct number of employees is key of course, but there are other things to consider. Exactly how much time should management allow for a customer to be greeted? In our experience, most retail clients use between 20-30 seconds.
A retail paint store client (chart above), measures the time it takes for the customer to walk in the store until the customer is greeted. In this case, they allow 20 seconds to be greeted. This is what they train their staff to do. In the chart above, mystery shoppers scored this question among others in the customer experience evaluation. At a glance, the client can see how often this is happening correctly in their stores company wide. One quarter of stores did not meet the company’s requirement of greeting a customer within 20 seconds when entering the store.
That may sound like a short amount of time until you try this. Count up to 20 by thousands, 1001,1002,1003, etc.. By the time it takes you to reach 1,020 you will be very close to the 20 second mark. See the difference? It feels a lot longer when you really “feel” what 20 seconds is like in the real world.
A brief statement, such as, “Hello, I will be right with you,” can encourage a customer to browse the store until an employee is free to provide help. Once the employee is available, he should approach the customer and ask if they need help finding anything. This opens the lines of communication and it creates instant credibility.
While it might sound obvious, how consistent is your team with their hellos and goodbyes? The greeting is your customer’s first experience with your company, so make sure the call starts out on the right foot – keep it informal, ask them how their day is going, be interested in them as a person and show how you value their business.
In a just released report, J.D. Power reported on the importance of the greeting in a recent study conducted by the company.
Greeting customers on arrival at an aftermarket automotive maintenance facility can improve customer satisfaction, according to the results of the U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study released today by J.D. Power in Troy.
Satisfaction scores decline when customers wait more than three minutes before they’re acknowledged at full-service maintenance and repair, quick oil change, and tire replacement businesses, says the data analytics and consumer intelligence company. As a practical matter, greeting customers as soon as possible at any business will provide benefits.
Greeting can be measured quickly and efficiently my utilizing a mystery shopping program for your company. When you see the impact of what just one question makes in the overall customer experience, now is not the time to dismiss this important measurement.
In a very controversial year, from politics to how COVID was handled, one thing we can all agree on and that is that 2020 changed eCommerce forever. Everyone depended on Amazon, Walmart and even Chewy for their day to day, week to week, and even month to month needs. Beginning in March of 2020, these companies had their challenges, but rose to the occasion.
In face, the chart below shows the percentage of online shoppers making at least one online purchase every two months since the outbreak.
They were made for such a challenge. They had their ducks in a row a long time ago. I can remember back 10 years ago when many retailers were still less than optimistic of creating an eCommerce site for their business. “People like to have the in store shopping experience”, many would say. Many retailers felt that eCommerce was a nice to have, but not necessarily a must have.
Late to the Game in eCommerce
Prior to COVID many retailers did try to develop an online presence. Retail stores like Pier1 come to mind. They are a good case study because when they launched online, they semi-launched. I am certain this had to do with many supply chain issues and operation logistics that were out of their control. However, I have to wonder if they jumped on the bandwagon at the very beginning and worked through it over the years, would they have been in a better place in 2020?
Back in 2015, The Wall Street Journal said this about Pier1:
The downward trend coincided with the launch of Pier 1’s e-commerce initiative in July 2012. The company’s heavy investment in that area showed results with 16% of sales coming from e-commerce in the third quarter, up from 12% a year ago. What Pier 1 failed to anticipate was that growth in e-commerce business wouldn’t simply be additive to its overall sales. It also meant less traffic to its bricks-and-mortar stores where costs are fixed. That left Pier 1 with too much inventory. It plans to close 20 to 25 stores this fiscal year.
As a consumer, one always views things retailers do from a different angle. That is why market research so important. You can never learn enough from your customers.
When a consumer would visit the Pier1 website, it was everything you thought it would be. It was colorful, inviting, full of great products and it loaded quickly. All great, until you focused on an item of interest. When attempting to place the items in your cart, you would first have to provide a zip code. At this point, it was hit or miss if the item would be available to ship to your address. To make things even worse, it might not have been available at your nearest retail store either. How many times will a customer return to browse a site knowing ahead of time they may not be able to get their item?
Let’s say that the item was available in your zip code and you purchase it. The next part of the process is important as well. How long did it take? What condition was it in when it arrived?
If you think the above image is an exaggeration, it is not. It is a good representation of several boxes I personally received during the holiday season.
I predict the winners in retail down the road, post COVID, will be the ones who are serious about eCommerce. They will be the ones who are listening to their customers in every touchpoint possible. Data will become even more important than it ever was. It will be needed to not only evaluate the customer experience, but to do some predictive analysis on what consumers are looking for in a provider of goods and services.
Competitive Intelligence is something that business has done for decades in one form or another. From mystery shopping to market research using various methodologies, everyone seems to be spying on everyone else. However, many businesses have been slow to consider using social media and online research, for competitive intelligence, as a way to increase market share and to gain an overall competitive edge.
For the purpose of this blog post, we will zero in on the aspects of using online resources as a way to gain digital competitive intelligence. As artificial intelligence and algorithms continue to perfect, so does the need for good software. Social listening and analytic software options are plentiful and the financial commitment for using them can be huge.
The Forrester Wave™: Social Listening Platforms, Q4 2020
In 2020, a Forrester’s customer survey found that 59% of respondents incorporate social data into market research data sets, 57% into voice of the customer (VoC) data, and 48% into audience segmentation.
It is important to mention that while social data plays a significant role, data collection from non-social media data can be equally important.
Selecting a vendor for your business can be time consuming and stressful. You are making an important choice that will not just impact you, but an entire department or business. The goal should be to create a partnership with your vendor. Price is important, but it should not be the only thing to consider. Here are three tips that are worth noting.
Communication is my number one tip. How they respond during the sales process is important. Do you feel as though they are interviewing you? While it is perfectly understandable for a sales exec to pre-qualify a lead, it is also important to treat the person with respect. The tone of a person’s voice, their demeanor, level of patience when answering questions are all important. This sets the tone for how the relationship plays out over time.
Ask yourself, “Will I want to turn to this person with a problem or issue down the road?” How well they communicate & how quickly they respond will tell you a lot. Pay close attention to their genuine willingness to solve your problem or provide a solution that will benefit your business. How well do they listen?
One area I always look at when considering a new vendor is their social media marketing. When I check it, I am looking for several things:
The date of their last post. I see so many businesses start social media, run it for a few years, and then drop it. How current is the last post? If it is over a year ago, it may be a red flag.
What do they post? Do they post relative information that provides their readers with useful tips and news within their industry? Sharing is caring in social media. Pay close attention to what they have to say.
Number of followers play a role as well. Too small of an amount may mean that not enough effort was put forth. Too many unevenly distributed between following/followers may suggest a bot was used. Many companies use bots, and while I don’t feel it is a negative, it is worth noting.
How flexible are they to change? As much as we all try, there are times when we need something handled and we need it yesterday! I remember a payroll vendor of ours once telling me that she was going to discount something for me because over the years, we never requested customer service. By looking over our account and determining we had been a good, quiet customer, she rewarded us. Kudos to the company for empowering her to make that call.
Be sure to ask about their customer service turnaround times. Is it within 24 hours of placing a call or inquiry via the web? Be sure to understand this before a problem comes up.
Proper vetting can save you a lot of time in money down the road. The added effort is well worth it.
The Review Economy is something that people have been writing and speaking about for years now and for good reason. Keeping track of a brand’s online reviews is necessary if you are to survive in 2020 and beyond. They simply hold too much weight. Research shows that just a 1 star jump in a Yelp review can lead to a 9% boost in revenue. Businesses need them now more than ever and they are very willing to incentivize customers to leave product reviews by offering contest participation, where you can “win” a free product or a monetary prize. In many ways, it has replaced the customer feedback give-a-ways of the past. Take this survey and you could win $500.00! Instead, we now see “Review your recent purchase and you could win $500.00”.
Enter Apple Ratings
Apple ratings is coming with the new iOS 14 upgrade, due out this fall. Up to this point, Apple Maps relied on Yelp and Trip Advisor as their main resource for reviews. 9to5Mac.com, a site that is devoted to Mac updates, shared the news with their followers. The sixth beta for iOS 14 show that Apple is not only moving away from third-party map data, but its also moving away from third-party image and review data. Apple is saying that photos submitted by users will be reviewed by a human.
We were able to capture a couple of comments made so far below, as a small test of i
What This Means for the Review Economy
It may mean that Apple Reviews will be disruptive to Yelp and Trip Advisor in the long run. Apple intends on being very proactive when it comes to review fraud. No easy task. They may also only allow users to rate a place after physically visited it. They may also use a thumbs up and thumbs down rating system rather than stars.
In the end, if it is done properly, it may be a review economy disrupter in a good way! Apple may be able to tighten the parameters around online reviews, making fake reviews a thing of the past.
It will be one more area for businesses of all kinds to monitor. Having a solid social listening or monitoring system in place is so important. Customer churn is real and monitoring online feedback is just as important as conducting market research, mystery shopping or conducting customer satisfaction surveys.
Customer service adjustments. During the last several months we have all had to make a lot of changes to our lives. We all have our own personal story on hardships as well as new opportunities. Working from home for the first time. Working while trying to home school kids for the first time ever. Getting accustomed to wearing a mask for the first time. Social distancing all while trying to work and take care of our families.
During this time I think that most consumers have shown appreciation for the essential front line workers and we understood when our Amazon order took 2 weeks instead of 2 days. We appreciate those hard working people sacrificing for the well being of others.
While for the most part, people continue to have patience. Some people are showing a great deal of resistance to mask wearing and retailers and restaurant owners have had to quickly train employees on how to handle an unhappy guest who didn’t want to comply.
My concern is more along the lines of people using the pandemic a an excuse for poor customer service. I have two examples of what I am referring to.
I am located in the Charlotte, NC area, and I see their commercials daily. Sometimes as part of my local evening news (slower news days). They have a spokesperson who is very compelling and does a great job selling products. Their About Us section on their website states the following:
Local Steals and Deals is operated by Knocking (www.knocking.co) in association with Cox Media Group.
We connect the best brands with Cox Media Group’s audience, offering exclusive deals.
I like the concept. However what I wasn’t impressed with was the customer service. I placed an order 2 months ago and never received my purchase. I honestly think I would have forgotten about it altogether if it were not for the commercials! After emailing the company, I found out that the product is no longer available. It left me wondering how many people placed orders and then forgot about them? Automatically refunding customers on out of stock items, should be part of any e-commerce site these days.
A quick chat with my hosting company regarding a log in issue I was having kept me busy for over an hour trying to trouble shoot with them in a chat. Finally, I was told my issue would be escalated and that I should try again in a few hours. Good enough. I did what he said and even waited until the next day. Still had the same problem. Got on the chat with them again, knowing full well that I would have to start from the beginning. Sure enough. When I asked if my issue was escalated as I was told, I received an awful reply. I was told that because of COVID19, they were working with reduced staff. Really? You are working on a computer from your home office, I would bet. How could COVID be affecting your customer service?
Don’t Neglect Your Customer Service
Times are hard and budgets are tight. Now is not the time however to neglect your customer service standards. In fact, I believe it is the time to make them an even more important priority. Evaluating what is happening when a customer engages with your business or brand is more important than ever before. People will remember the businesses who came through for them during this time.
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!
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.
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?
Quality Assurance in the contact center is being used to improve NPS (Net Promoter Score) and overall customer experience
“How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? Could you please rate your recommendation on a scale of 0-10?”
These are two questions that can induce anxiety into any business. But the questions are real and have been so since 2003 when Frederick Reicheld of Bain & Company wrote about what he coined the Net Promoter Score (NPS) in an article for the Harvard Business Review.
Reicheld’s premise is simple. Answers to the “likely to recommend” question are rated on a scale of 0-10 and the responses are divided into three groups as follows:
• Promoters (rating of 9-10)• Passives (7-8)• Detractors (0-6) The Net Promoter Score is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractor responses from the percentage of promoters. The goal is to get as high a Net Promoter Score as possible as an indicator of customer perception of a company’s service and support.
So How Do You Boost Your Net Promoter Score?
1) Truly Listen to the Customer
Perform a deep analysis of your call records. Consider how many calls are subsequently transferred into other departments. How many result in escalations or complaints? Do some listening and consider what the main drivers are for these transfers and escalations. A big negative for NPS is when customers feel that they have to deal with many people or departments to get a query resolved. On many occasions, a customer’s issue will have several threads to it, all of which need to be resolved or actioned in some way. Empower your frontline to handle queries outside their own department’s main scope and provide them with access to whatever systems they need. This greatly enhances their chances of providing the customer with a ‘one-and-done’ resolution to their call.
2) Perfect Your Greetings and Closings
While it might sound obvious, how consistent is your team with their hellos and goodbyes? The greeting is your customer’s first experience with your company, so make sure the call starts out on the right foot – keep it informal, ask them how their day is going, be interested in them as a person and show how you value their business.
Enabling an advisor to see a customer’s history makes for smoother handling of a call without the customer having to repeat themselves. Your employees also need to know what to do when a call is going wrong and how to get it back on track. Having dealt with the call or query, make sure your advisors finish each call on a positive – remember that’s the impression that your customer will leave with.
3) Review Your Scripts
Sometimes an advisor’s strict adherence to a script can bypass common sense and cause more problems than solutions. Giving employees the freedom to act with common sense and not stick rigidly to a script, regardless of the circumstances, can deliver better NPS scores. If a customer has not had their problem resolved and you ask: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today’, it is likely to be met with a negative response. This lack of common sense is likely to increase dissatisfaction as the customer hasn’t been helped yet. Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
4) Follow Up Fast
Prompt follow-up with customers can help contact centers drive increases in NPS. This closing works for several reasons:
• demonstrates your commitment to the customer experience • resolves individual problems • gives you greater insight into the issues that drag down your customer loyalty
How fast you respond, who follows up and even the means of contacting the customer can depend on the type of feedback received, as well as characteristics of the customer or account. Often, simply hearing that feedback was received improves a customer’s perception of your company. Use follow-up calls to learn more about customer issues. This can help you pinpoint the root causes of recurring problems so you can fix them at the source. Richard Burns at NICE
5) Boost Morale in the Workplace
Without an emotional investment in their work, most employees are going to have a difficult time maintaining exemplary service, which can cause your NPS to slip. Allow the team to review themselves alongside their superiors. This demonstrates that the individual’s opinion is valued and their development matters, as well as allowing senior employees to build a rapport with their teams. Utilize reward programs like ‘employee of the month’ or competitions that encourage excellent NPS. Pride in good performance is always an incentive to raise or maintain standards of work. These schemes provide continued encouragement for advisors to provide the best service they can, which in turn goes towards raising your NPS. Enda Kenneally at West Unified Communications
6) Make Exceeding Customer Expectations the Primary Goal
Rather than focus on the NPS itself, make exceeding customer expectations part of your call center’s goal. To do this, you need to look at the NPS as something that measures the difference between the expectations a customer has and the experience they receive. Prompt advisors to deliver positive surprises and go the extra mile, rather than concentrating on compliance or reducing the call duration. This will exceed customers’ expectations and help you achieve better NPS scores.
There are over 74,000 clothing boutique businesses in the United States. Included in that high number are online boutiques, who have brought a unique frenzy to the retail industry. Trendy, stylish, and exclusive. There’s been shift from “you’re a predictable brand I trust” to “I am loving this exclusive boutique experience.” With more and more online boutiques popping up, shoppers are provided an unshared, chic, shopping experiences that doesn’t feel like the Gap store down the street.
Interesting enough, there is a similar pivot within the hospitality industry. Large hotel franchises and chains are changing their hotel concepts to reflect a more unique appeal that correlates to the city or town of their hotel location. These changes then compete with smaller, independently owned hotels who are gaining in popularity. The one-of-a kind charm is alluring travelers across the globe. Guests are constantly looking for what is postable, or the “social return,” according to a recent article by Kristen Morales. With more and more people waking up and looking at their Instagram accounts, posting incredible places they’ve been, the increase in social media influences, and Gen Z gearing up to lead the way, hotels are following suit and adjusting strategy.
Social Media’s Role
Social media has turned the hotel stay into much more than good service and a clean room. According to a new study by University of Georgia researches, it’s all about the ‘experience’.
Guests are taking to social media to post and show their followers and friends the brand-new experience they had. It’s all about the post and what that individual will get in return from sharing that post.
Bynum Boley, an associate professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, says it best, “When you have all these choices out there, you’re going with the one that’s least risky. But service quality is so standardized now-there’s all these reviews online, and service quality is almost a given,” Boley said. “But there’s also a rising influence of people who want a unique experience and also want to be able to broadcast their travel experiences through social media.”
Showing Instagram or Facebook followers the different experiences you are able to have sets you apart. It’s easy nowadays to pull up reviews on a hotel to see how they rank with cleanliness and quality. Going above and beyond for a guest is providing them with an exclusive experience that only comes from them staying at your hotel.
Adjusting Your Focus
So what are major hotels doing to compete with the independent boutique hotel? They are securing their place in the hotel race with new glamorous and attractive accommodations. The Ranch at Rock Creek offers a Father’s Day getaway that is inspired by iconic film characters. Yes, dads can finally really feel like Jason Bourne or Indiana Jones. Or Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, provides kids with an enchanting education journey through the land of Ubud. Everything from yoga, rock painting, to dance fit, and shadow puppet making is provided.
Social Media Transparency
From retail to the hotel boutique experience, both industries have one thing in common, their need to be tech savvy in an ever evolving, competitive market. Transparency is vital as you build your online brand and community. Listening and responding to what is being said about your hotel franchise or independent hotel is a great step forward. For most consumers, the customer journey begins with online reviews. Whether they are seeking to find a new hotel experience or checking out a new shopping boutique. This drives behavior and decisions. Monitoring this activity helps you manage and promote your brand.
During the COVID:19 Pandemic, business owners have had to be very creative in order to survive. In an instant, an owner may be left with no customers. What is next? Creative thinking to the rescue! Interestingly enough, many find new ways of selling their goods and services. Social selling is one option.
So the family decided to try selling their pigs in social media. They turned to their community for help through their social media accounts.
“In just 48 hours, we had over 400 families reach out to us wanting to purchase pork and help support us through this,” Brad said. “We were left high and dry with nowhere to go and nowhere to turn and that’s where our community stepped up.”
The family was also able to get connected with other, smaller pork producers who were able to take some of their pigs and get them ready to be sold to consumers.
Time to Try Social Selling?
Social selling is really nothing new, however, it is new to some industries. The impact of COVID-19 has made everyone more aware of social selling and it will be interesting to watch and see if this trend continues. When you think of social selling, LinkedIn comes to mind. LinkedIn has been the best place to date to build relationships and acquire more customers. This is especially true for B2B companies.
However, now is a great time to start building your social media community. It doesn’t matter if it is in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. The Pig Farm story is a good example of social media ROI. I bet the farmer never would have thought this online community would be of benefit to him at any time now or in the future. But it was. It may also make him think of his business differently post COVID.
Consumer Reports recently reported on the increased importance of social media customer service which goes hand in hand with social selling. Once you commit to being there, you must maintain it and monitor it. Customers are eager to reach out to you there. To get that personalized service that everyone wants these days.
Maintenance goes a long way in social as well as your website. As more and more people turn to online shopping for essentials, be sure:
Outbound links in social media are all in working order.
Contact information correct.
Take time now to be sure everything is up to speed. Are there ways to increase your followers? How well are you engaging? You never know when it will all come in handy in ways you never would have thought!
B2B companies have a unique challenge in evaluating customer experience. Many times the sales and business cycle is long and consists of several steps to complete the entire experience. This may be in the form of initial order placement/purchase, delivery or products and services, and final billing. Depending on the industry, there may be steps in between that don’t necessarily apply to all customers – perhaps a company that offers rentals and some customers may require service calls – so how is it possible to fully evaluate the customer experience with so many moving parts?
A well formulated and thought out feedback process will serve to be an effective tool. Thinking outside of a traditional “how did we do?” type format is the best way to approach this.
Since the B2B processes are much longer than a typical retail experience, for example, it’s best to get feedback while the experience is fresh in the minds of customers. So the logical thought may be surveying customers at each step of the process. However, that could lead to response burnout as customers may be inclined the respond to one or two requests for feedback, but will soon tire of completing feedback surveys each time they have an experience with a company.
So what’s the answer? There are three guidelines to consider to create an efficient program:
Take time to lay the foundation
Initial planning will help with this. The first thing to think about is the customer experience, from start to finish. What basic steps are involved for a customer to do business with you? If you sell products or services, that may be initial purchase order, receipt of products/services, billing processes, and resolution of any issues if they arise.
If the company rents products, that journey may look a bit different. It may start with the initial order, then to delivery of items, any service or maintenance calls if they are necessary, return of the products, final billing, and overall experience.
Once you determine the steps of the journey, it’s easy to create separate feedback surveys to capture journey specific information. This will be effective in reviewing customer satisfaction at each step of the process – you may find that when people are dissatisfied with an overall experience, it could be due to one specific part of the journey. If you don’t know what step that is until the experience is over, it’s too late to work to improve it. However, if feedback is captured along each step of the way, it’s easier to pinpoint the weaker areas of the process and fix them quickly.
Keep the surveys as short as possible. Multiple surveys allows for fewer questions and journey specific questions to be asked. Carefully consider what information is needed to get the appropriate feedback – nothing more, nothing less – and build a short survey for each step of the journey.
Develop contact rules
What about response exhaustion? A well designed system can alleviate response rate reduction that comes with surveying the same customers at each step of the journey.
Consider setting up some initial guidelines for the feedback process. One example may look like this:
Create call list segmentation for each step of the process. A list of customers who recently placed orders is compiled and used to request feedback on this step of the process. A second list is created for those who received a delivery of products/services within the last 3 weeks, and so forth.
Each contact list will reflect a different list of customers. However, depending on the business model, some companies may find themselves on one or more contact lists at one time. To alleviate this, additional parameters are needed.
From each list, cross reference to remove companies that fall on one or more list. From there, determine which companies have been contacted in the last six to 12 months. This takes away the chance to contact a customer too often.
Create a feedback cadence to request feedback at key times – not too soon after an experience but not too far out either. Some of this will depend on the size of the customer base, the length of the customer cycle, and other key factors. Ideally, customers should be contacted within one to two weeks of experience an interaction with a company.
Decide on a request format. Will telephone or email (or a mix of both) get the best results? Initially, test email and telephone based survey requests. Many customers are busy and do not answer calls from unknown phone numbers, but this is not always the case. Some companies find that telephone requests have a better response rate over email requests. Furthermore, they find that customers who are contacted via telephone tend to share more narrative detail regarding their experience. This unstructured commentary can yield information that would never be uncovered with a more traditional survey set up.
With so many moving pieces to the customer cycle, it can seem like an overwhelming process at first. However, once it is set up and a cadence is determined, the process can run smoothly and provide deeper insight about the entire customer experience, quickly finding strengths and areas for improvement.
For traditional restaurant and retail companies, feedback programs can be pretty straightforward. However, for others, such as ecommerce, the process can be a bit more complicated. There are many parts of the journey, from the buying experience to the purchase experience, all the way through complaint resolution to overall product satisfaction.
How is it possible to get feedback at each step of the process in a way that doesn’t inundate customers to the point of survey exhaustion and make sure the experience is recent enough to get accurate feedback about the experience?
Below are some tips to creating an optimal, efficient feedback program for businesses with many steps in the customer journey:
Remember, there is no “one size fits all” feedback survey. Try to avoid sending one feedback survey request at the end of the customer experience. That’s too general and won’t give you the best insight possible. Companies also run the risk of customers not recalling earlier aspects of the experience, so the data may not be as accurate. Multiple feedback surveys are the best bet when the overall experience is a series of steps taken by a customer.
But…don’t feel like you have to get feedback from a customer at each step of the process. While businesses think that the only way to get the best feedback about the entire process is to ask for feedback from Mr. Jones each time he has an interaction with the company, this isn’t necessary. You can get feedback from a variety of customers at different touchpoints to gain overall satisfaction data without risking your customers tuning out.
Keep it simple. Feedback surveys should be short; the shorter, the better. If multiple surveys are used for each step of the process, this can easily be done while getting the best information possible. Want to add more bang to your buck? Offer an open ended narrative option simply asking, “What would you like to tell us? What can we do better? What would you like to see? The sky’s the limit, so share your thoughts.” You may be surprised at the ideas and suggestions your customers have.
Look beyond your most loyal customers. Just like not inundating customers with multiple surveys over time, focusing solely on customers who subscribe to a loyalty program isn’t the answer either. Their time and loyalty needs to be respected; it may be easy to use this group for feedback needs, but it’s important to respect their loyalty and not rely on this group too much. This group may also have different behaviors/opinions/experiences than non-loyalty based customers, so it’s good practice anyway to capture feedback from a broader customer base.
Take advantage of social conversations. Combine traditional feedback with unstructured feedback on social sites. Taking the last step a bit further, go outside social media audiences and look for feedback from customers that are not tied to a company’s social sites but are talking about your brand, products, or services socially. This is achieved through social media listening – there are many tools to listen to customers talking about a certain topic and compiling that data to tie into feedback results. Unstructured data is a technological goldmine and brands should be aware of how to use this data for greater insight.
How does a business gain customer trust? How does a business gain trust in uncertain times? Very important questions. It requires some real thought. The quietness we are all in is the perfect time to step back and evaluate. Soon businesses will reopen and begin new business’ models for the times we are in. Customer trust is critical for survival. In my opinion, it has never been more important.
Winners and Losers
I have seen CEO’s posting in Linkedin about what they are currently doing to retain customers. They are, in part, establishing brand trust. A large restaurant chain offered a catering style dinner delivered, with the exact specifications of the customer. I mark that one a “glass half full” rating because they are pivoting to the new norm. Not to mention the convenience they are offering those families who are home schooling kids while working full time jobs. Great job TGIFridays! They took it a step further by offering to go Meal Kits. I love this and I bet their customers do too. When you check out their website you see true transparency. Another win!
Ice Cream Chain Confuses Customer
An ice cream chain of restaurants are an example of “glass half empty” rating. I recently stumbled on this Facebook post by an unhappy customer.
Customer waits for almost 30 minutes in a drive through lane, trying to bring home ice cream treats for the family perhaps, only to get to the window to read a sign about COVID-19 PPE requirements for the first time. Better yet, I checked out their website, and there is nothing there about COVID-19. No messaging whatsoever. It is like COVID-19 is not even happening in their world. Zero transparency. Notice that this post was commented on by 186 people, but who knows how many people viewed it without leaving a comment. As I scrolled through the comments, a few people discussed how the customer service at this location has been deteriorating for some time. Sadly, this business will never see this post because they are not listening well online.
People in general, your customers, are stressed. They have certain expectations for the businesses they love. What do you think will happen when this is all over and the ice cream store is open for dine in? Would you remember this experience and try out a new ice cream store instead? Let me take it one step further. Let’s say this customer does try out a competitor and they find that their product is not as stellar but their customer experience is fantastic! Speed, delivery and a smile. Recovery from this kind of poor customer service is long lasting. Who can afford that right now?
Leaning in on Customer Insights
The word cloud is a great visual of what we are feeling right now. Another “glass is half full” award goes to ChatDesk and their recent blog post on “How Are Your Customers Feeling About Coronavirus / COVID-19?” Excellent Social Media Listening! It pretty much recommends that we all put ourselves in our customer’s shoes right now.
Listen Like This
*Blog by: Kathy Doering, President of Ann Michaels & Associates. The above example is only one way in which we listen on behalf of our customers. If this is something you would like to see up close and personal, please schedule a demo with use here.
The Emoji revolution is taking over as a very creative form of expression. Did you ever think we would reach a point in society where a smiley face would change the way we communicate with one another? There are thousands of emojis being used every day and new ones being created. You can uncover a wealth of information by taking a closer look at the emotion behind an emoji used, whether online from a customer or through a text message. From the most popular ones used to the least noticed. Emotional data behind an emoji can be more enlightening and descriptive than listening to words themselves.
The Emoji Shift During COVID-19
Just last week Horizon Media came out with a study on the emotional shift that took place in the United States during COVID-19, just by analyzing emojis. They took over 28 million Tweets and divided their findings based on gender and geography to reveal patterns. Their goal was to evaluate the difference between emoji use during the crisis and prior to the pandemic.
In conclusion, the study revealed a more carefree emotion prior to the pandemic taking place. The emotions portrayed during the spread of the coronavirus was a mix of grim and reflective emotions. The top 100 emojis used drastically changed to “Medical Masks,” “Microbe” and “Angry Faces with Symbols.” They ultimately discovered people were expressing thoughtful emotions.
What Can Emoji Data Do For Your Business?
Analyzing the data provided in a study such as Horizon Media, allows you to change the tone of your upcoming campaigns, the direction of your marketing, selling or online content. Shifting alongside the tone of your customers permits you to stay relevant with your audience. This may mean incorporating emojis. It would be ideal to use your customers’ favorite emojis, especially as it is used in your brand messaging, and begin using them in your marketing.
Listening to your customers online is an essential part to any business, but what about understanding what your customers are saying through a symbol? Easily interpret the online tone and emotion of your customers through our brand listening program. Emoji symbols are compiled into one easy to access report. Understand the sentiment behind an emoji. Learn more about your social footprint by tracking online and social conversation about your brand, product, campaign or management team.
Other services we offer:
Social Channel Analytics
Are you ready to roll with the emoji revolution? Contact Kathy Doering at email@example.com for more information on how to implement this program.
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.
Competitive intelligence for B2B companies is an overlooked method of research because of its complexity. It all begins with questions.
What are your competitors up to? For most small to medium sized businesses, this is difficult to keep up with. It may be something you think about only when you learn you lost a sale to a competitor. Or, when you take a look at their website to see what is new. That easily leads to questions about pricing, etc. Most B2B companies do not post pricing on their website. You either need to sign up for a demo or submit a request for a meeting through their site. There are many ways to gain this kind of B2B competitor intelligence covertly. B2B Mystery Shopping is a great way to begin.
B2B Mystery Shopping
You may be wondering what in the world is B2B mystery shopping? Traditionally, mystery shopping is used for restaurants, retail, banks and even medical offices. Business to Business or B2B mystery shopping is an excellent way to gain market intelligence for your business as well as get a good snapshot at your internal customer experience.
B2B Mystery Shopping Case Study
Let me explain by giving you some details of a recent B2B competitive intelligence study we did for a client. We were hired to reach out to our client’s competitor and initiate interest in their services. The very first step in this process is to find an evaluator in our data base that closely matches an actual customer. We interview the evaluator to be sure they are not involved with the client or the client’s competitor in any way.
Once selected, the evaluator gets briefed on the objective of the shop with exact requirements of what marketing collateral we require they capture. If a demo is needed, screen shots may be part of the report, so the client can see a step by step process.
From the narrative example above you can see that it took from November 7th – November 13th to receive an answer. It took so long that our evaluator asked if he should abandon the initiative altogether. We pressed on, and finally received the information the client was looking for.
Steps to Begin
Test your own process first. Mystery shop your company to evaluate any internal issues you may have that you were unaware of. This gives you a fair point of reference and you are better able to benchmark against your competitors.
Price is important but so is marketing. What type of information are they including in their marketing materials that are better than yours?
Take it a further step and conduct an audit on their Google keywords and their social media reach.
Listen to the buzz around your competitors in social media. Check out the review sites.
One bad review online, one lost email, or an unreturned phone call message that was never returned can break any business. It gets a little trickier when you are a B2B company.
Let’s face it- if we knew our customers’ expectations every second of every day, we would work hard to meet them. In today’s diverse, ever changing world, it is nearly impossible to know that. Consumers today have so many choices that it becomes difficult to stand out from competitors.
What do your customers expect?
“Service is praised or criticized because of expectations.”
Steps to Start Today to Understand Customer Expectations
Listen: It sounds so easy to say, but harder to do. How do you listen to your customers? Is it by survey? Mystery shopping? Social Listening? I once spoke to a leading retailer’s VP of Operations about creating a mystery shopping program for their stores. They knew they needed it because their district managers were being pulled in too many directions and didn’t have the time to devote to each store in their district. They never started it. The reason? They were trying to figure out who their customer was. A few years later, they were out of business. They were never able to keep up with their customers’ expectations because they never knew who their customers were. They never learned how to listen.
Get Feedback From Customers:Customer Experience for Dummies said it best. “When it comes to getting feedback from customers, annual surveys are out, and constant listening and providing real-time dialogue is in. That means you need to inventory where you are listening effectively today, prioritizing your highest-value listening and dialogue touchpoints, and creating a governance model for managing and responding to customer feedback. The end game here is to be able to converse with your customers in near real-time and to respond to customer concerns, problems, and suggestions as they are happening.” Omni-channel listening is key.
Demonstrate to Customers Your Level of Commitment to Them: The chart above is from Neil Patel’s “Why Understanding Expectations is Crucial for Customer Experience.” Great article about backing up the bus to first and foremost understand what your customers need from you and then determine how you and your team will meet those needs. Neil writes, “Service is praised or criticized because of expectations.” Making sure you are delivering top notch customer service has never been more important. Years ago Zappos helped a customer who called them by mistake order a pizza. This became an infamous story of the day and everyone wanted to deliver service like Zappos. Zappos began to develop an entire philosophy around this by expanding it in their social media marketing. Help the customer with whatever they need. What does it take? An extra few minutes? They will sing your praises. Always try to under promise and over deliver whenever you can, especially in social media.
Ann Michaels & Assoc. provides you the resources to make data driven decisions associated with your customers and branding. Give us the opportunity to help you grow margins and revenues.
The secret is out in living color on the cover of Consumer Reports – how to use social media as the last chance way to get some attention when unhappy with a product or service. This issue shares secrets to great customer service, and social media use is one of them. Consumer Reports states that 84% of consumers who posted complaints to social media used Facebook. The report goes on to suggest that social media can be a highly effective way to resolve customer complaints, even when other approaches fail.
JCPenney is one retailer that was cited as having great customer service via Twitter.
When a customer reached out by phone and learned of the hold times, she quickly went to the company’s Twitter page. She said that their phone wait times were “nuts” and within minutes a representative quickly tweeted a reply. After a bit of back and forth, the issue was resolved.
As the chart indicates, the under 25 demographic shows an indication that they will be the ones who will expect this type of service moving forward, so making sure those wait times are on target will be well worth the effort.
Ann Michaels & Associates, a leader in Customer Experience and Social Media Management, conducted a study on this very topic
How long is too long when it comes to receiving an answer to a product or service question in social media?As the Consumer Reports article shows a consumer expectation, Ann Michaels & Associates set out to look at the disparity between what consumers expect as far as wait time for brands to respond to consumer concerns vs what is actually happening.on social. The study was initiated when it was evident social would serve as a customer service channel – take a look at consumer expectations vs brand response and learn how response time on social shifted over a three year period. Click here to find out the results
If you carry them carefully they may not break. But one little bump in the road could ruin everything.
We use this expression for multiple reasons. Perhaps your stock broker has used it as a pitch for the importance of financial diversification . Financial Diversification is explained this way
In finance, diversification is the process of allocating capital in a way that reduces the exposure to any one particular asset or risk. A common path towards diversification is to reduce risk or volatility by investing in a variety of assets. Wikipedia
That sounds like solid advice and it is. It is the “just in case” things go sour reasoning. Shouldn’t this advice be used in other areas of our business life?
When it comes to business, we sometimes fall short. Sometimes it is because of budget, sometimes it is just lack of trust, and sometimes it is not wanting to leap out of the comfort zone. You know, the one we all feel is tried and true. When it comes to marketing and market research we like to stick with what we know will work. We know what we can expect, and that brings us comfort. B2B email marketing may get a solid 15% open rate every time. We like that and so does the boss. So we use it but won’t necessarily keep up with a social media platform because the “likes” don’t add up fast enough.
Do we ever wonder, “what if?” What if we did something different? I am not talking about placing all of our efforts and resources to one new thing. Rather, try it enough to test it. As much as I love the research industry and marketing, this is perhaps one of my challenges. Let’s use some real examples of what I am talking about.
When I opened my profile this morning, this was right at the top of my news feed. It surprised me, actually. Isn’t all the data in the world held right within the walls of this social platform? (kidding) Why would they ask for my opinion in a short survey? There may be multiple answers that we will never know. Here is my theory:
With all of this AI and algorithm capability they own, they still need to reach out to the human behind the data.
They know not to place all their eggs in one basket.
Research of all kinds should always be used whenever possible. Each discipline tells you something different and when you put it all together, it often times reveals things management were un aware of.
People are becoming tired of “liking” everything. Many are becoming much more selective. They still read the posts, but don’t always click that like button. This is exactly what the survey was about. It went through post by post (just a few) that was recently in my news feed. Next the survey asked if I saw it in my feed and how much did I find it useful or important. Most were posts that I didn’t hit the like button for.
Years ago, feedback surveys replaced a lot of mystery shopping as a way to gauge the customer experience. Many even went as far as to develop their own surveys through free online platforms.
Now, almost a decade later, some brands are returning to mystery shopping because people have become unresponsive to all the surveys out there. There is either little to no data or the data is on one side of the scale (customers who love everything about your brand) to the other (very unhappy customers). Most customers fall in between.
Smart retailers are looking to evaluate what the customer experiences when they come into one of their locations. They are turning back to mystery shopping again. District Managers are exhausted trying to get to every location and are many times spread too thin. Things may happen differently at a store when they are present. So, the question is being asked once again, “How do we know what is happening at the store level when managers are not present?”
Additionally, incorporating online reviews into the mix, by location ,would be a great addition. Technology is now in place to do just that and to include it all in one reporting dashboard.
In conclusion, as Marketers and Researchers, we need to always stay fresh and be open to new methodologies when diving into consumer data. Try adding one new tactic to your marketing strategy this year. This may be a great 2020 resolution for us all!
a world where one day you’re in and the next day you’re out, you would expect
companies to be doing everything they can to attract new customers and retain
those who are loyal. But a 2018 study by sales-and-service-solutions company NewVoiceMedia found that businesses were losing 75
billion dollars a year because their customer service wasn’t good enough,
up from $62 billion in losses the year before. So why is this happening? Why
are businesses not more focused on customer service?
Let’s think about customer service in the most basic form: an
outstanding customer-service experience is one where your customers walk away
or hang up believing that you genuinely care about them. They understand that
you value their relationship with your company. The same NewVoiceMedia study
confirms that 86% of people are more likely to stay a customer if they feel a
positive emotional connection with you.
service is all about bringing customers back. If you’re a good
salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach
to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be
able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a
relationship that the individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.
Poor customer service is just the opposite. When customers believe
that you don’t care, that you’re uninterested or they’re just another
number to you, they will ultimately say they had a bad experience. The negative
impact can be detrimental to your business. According to a 2018
study by Microsoft, 61% of consumers stop doing
business with a company after a poor customer experience.
If you truly want to have good
customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently
implements the following rules:
Answer Your Phone
The first rule of good customer
service is that your phone needs to be answered. Customers don’t want to leave
a message or be placed on hold for an eternity waiting to speak to a live
person. We live in an age of “now” and customers want answers now. And when the
phone is answered they want to be embraced by a welcoming and understanding
person, so courteous phone skills are a must. Which leads to the next rule…
Train Your Staff
Train your employees to always be helpful,
polite, and knowledgeable. Talk to your staff about good customer service
and what you should/shouldn’t do. Most importantly, give every member of your
staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing
decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be
Listen to Your Customers
What’s more frustrating than explaining
your problem to someone only to be transferred and have to go through it again?
Listen to what you customers say, write down their issue in detail, and then
try to solve the problem. If you can’t help them, find someone who can. But
don’t make them explain it over and over. This will only lead to a frustrated
customer who will more than likely have a negative experience.
Deal With Complaints
No one likes hearing complaints, and
many of us have developed a reflex, saying, “You can’t please all the
people all the time”. While this is true, it’s important to give the complaint your attention, so you can please this one person
this one time – and reap the benefits of good customer service. Let complaints become opportunities, where you can discover issues and
correct them. Market research has found
that customers who have complained about a product or service and had that
complaint successfully dealt with are 70% likely to order from the vendor
again. That’s staggering!
Be Helpful by Taking the Extra
If someone walks into your store and
asks you where to find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3”. Why
don’t you say, “Let me show you” and lead the customer to the item. Even
better, wait and see if they have questions about it, or further needs. Always
be thinking about the extra step if you want to provide good customer
service. While it may seem unnoticed, customers will remember your effort and tell
other people, leading to more referrals.
Throw In Something Extra
Whether it’s a coupon for a future
discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a bonus for a
referral, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And the gesture
doesn’t have to be large to be effective. Think about your product or service
and find something extra that you can offer to customers.
Reward Customers for
By increasing your customer retention rate by just 5%, you can improve
your profits by 25-95%.
Use email lists or apps to provide discounts or exclusive deals to loyal
customers. For example, Disney offers individual character meet-and-greet
sessions only to their Visa cardholders. Macy’s progressively gives greater
discounts based on the total money spent over time. Geisinger Health System
offers a refund for customers not happy with their care. Give customers a
reason to stay loyal. The longer they stay, the more likely they will be to
give good reviews and referrals. These tips will lead to excellent service,
greater loyalty, and higher profits.
media can be your greatest asset and your biggest downfall. Do it right and you
can gain new followers, create loyal customers, and successfully grow your
brand. But a few missteps and you can turn away potential customers.
you get your approach wrong, it can quickly destroy your social reputation.
Once your brand’s reputation is damaged, it is very difficult to rectify. And
with so much online competition just a click away, it’s extremely easy for
consumers to find another brand to fill their needs if you turn them off with
the way you use social media, by your tone, or how you post.
let’s start with why people follow certain brands on social media:
They are interested in a product or service
They are offered incentives
They are interested in promotions
They find the social media profile entertaining
They wish to communicate with a brand
Their friends or family follow the brand
why people unfollow brands on social media:
Too many promotions
Too much tweeting/posting
Inappropriate use of jargon or slang that doesn’t comply with brand identity
Failure to reply to comments /messages
So what social behaviors
are most annoying to consumers? Here’s what to avoid:
1. Poor grammar and
spelling and grammar are the top most annoying things to social media users as
a whole, according to market research. (A close second is the abundance of
memes or political cartoons that have no place on a business social media
account). It is way too easy to use spell check or hire a professional editor
to check your posts before publishing them to make sure everything is correct. Your
business page needs to reflect your brand identity, which should always reflect
professionalism and attention to detail.
2. Begging for likes
you are too focused on getting likes for your page you will lose credibility
with followers. Social media should be used to engage with your target audience
– not to boost your own ego with how many likes you have. Instead of blatantly
asking for likes, shares, and comments, provide content that encourages your audiences
to engage and gets them excited about being included in the conversation.
3. Improper hashtag use
people really love the hashtag – the more they can squeeze into a single post
the better. But when it comes to any business profile on social media, you need
to use hashtags wisely and appropriately. Use a limited number per post – two
or three at most – and make them count. Only use hashtags that are appropriate
to your business, industry, or individual post.
4. Ignoring criticism
matter how great your company is, at some point in time you will receive
negative feedback. It may not be deserved, but you should never ignore it. Always
respond calmly, concisely, and offer to take the issue to a private forum such
as a phone call, email, or direct message. Be polite and non-reactive – you
need to be proactive, even in the face of negativity that is completely
address criticism quickly. The longer you wait to address complaints, the
angrier the customer becomes. 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to
reviews. Read reactions thoroughly, respond quickly, and defuse the situation
before it becomes a major deal.
5. Posting too often
a fine line between maintain an active presence on social media and completely overwhelming
many posts can be aggravating to the point that customers “unfollow” you or
simply result in your posts becoming lost in your followers’ newsfeeds. Be
aware that not every single follower will see every post. You should post to
Facebook once per day – twice at most – during times when you have analyzed
that your posts get the most response. This is critical!
6. Having a bad website
Every interaction a consumer has with
your business counts…whether that is on social media, in a brick and mortar
store, or on your website.
the 64% of you who have a website, remember
that this may be the first impression someone has of your business? If they
have a poor user experience, chances are they will not follow you on social media
or become a loyal customer. The site should look professional and clean,
include a menu so users can easily find the information they are looking for,
and have links to your social media accounts.
social media consumers are looking for deeper connections with the brands they
choose. They take time out of their day to read your posts, watch your videos,
and like and share your content. When done properly, social media marketing can
create loyal brand ambassadors that will increase the growth and success of
work mindfully to make sure you avoid the above mentioned social media
A bit more complicated than typical mystery shopping, but definitely beneficial.
Traditional mystery shopping in the business-to-consumer (B2C) model is pretty straight-forward. Mystery shoppers are sent in to a business or retail location with specific tasks and questions to answer about their experience.
Business-to-business (B2B) mystery shopping works in the same manner, with the one exception being that customers, or mystery shoppers, will pose as companies or customers calling to inquire about your services and products.
B2B mystery shopping is one way you can make sure you stay focused on delivering great customer experiences every time and also allows your business to determine baselines and pinpoint areas for improvement. You can evaluate staff performance, review processes and procedures, and ensure your brand reputation is solid.
Understanding your customer’s journey in a B2B environment takes a little more creativity. Here are a few ideas on how to approach being a mystery shopper of your own B2B organization.
1. Evaluate the Call Process.
Find out what it’s like to call in as an actual customer and ask questions: What is it you do? What types of products/services do you offer? What happens if I have a problem/issue arise? What is your return policy? (if applicable) It’s amazing how many inbound sales departments are totally unprepared for this line of questions. And you can experience what it feels like to be an actual customer.
This also gives insight into whether your employees are upselling/cross-selling other products or services offered by your company that may be important to the customer.
2. Use the web contact form to inquire about products or services.
Is the form easy to fill out? Does it cover the pertinent information? How quickly do you hear from someone? Is the form confirmation written in a robot voice? Lots of areas to consider here!
3. Ask typical questions of the sales person.
You probably know what questions get asked the most, so go ahead and ask them. Email the salesperson back and ask random questions. Ask what happens if you want to add a service in the middle of the contract. Ask about price. Ask the difficult questions salespeople hate and see what happens.
4. Sign up for the free product trial.
If a trial is typically offered, go for it. See what it’s like to sign up, use the product, call support and then either end the trial or not. Pay attention to how many emails and calls you get. Pay attention to if the product trial lives up to the marketing hype.
5. Ask other customers.
Check out forums or communities and ask about others’ experiences. Pay attention to what they say doesn’t work. Or call a few current customers and ask them. What’s working? What’s not? Tell me what can be improved and what works well.
The best way to get a truly outside-in perspective, however, is to ask someone from the outside to do it. You’ll get honest feedback and find holes in your process easy to ignore on the outside. But any form of mystery shopping is better than none. Take a step and examine what experience you’re really delivering to your business customers.
Furthermore, fictitious accounts and companies can be created to pose as current customers to evaluate the service ordering process. From here, you can see if your employees are attempting to upsell/cross sell, offering additional products/services that are important to your customers, and the general service levels provided.
With the rise of reviews online and social media, many companies have opted out of sending their clients surveys altogether. The thinking is they don’t need them since they are hearing from their customers on a regular basis online. However, is this a good strategy? Do surveys still play an important role?
Let’s start by taking a closer look at the Review Economy. Let’s face it, we have all relied on online reviews when it comes to making a purchase. I would guess that this increased a lot this past year during COVID, with most of us increasing our online shopping. in fact, we wrote about Apple Ratings and what it may do to the Review Economy down the road in a recent blog post. Apple Ratings is something to watch!
Traveling and looking for a good place to eat nearby? You may very well depend on those online reviews before making your dining decision. They are not going away anytime soon.
Google reviews can really make an impact on brick and mortar companies. So much so that many owners have tried to offer payment in exchange for a good Google review. Something we highly discourage our clients to do, as it is dishonest and can also come back around at some point if you are not careful. Imagine for a moment a customer does leave you a good review in exchange for monetary compensation. Down the road the same person may have an unfavorable experience at your place of business. Can you imagine if they post in social media about it? Even worse, they may cite the favorable review and the compensation. In today’s culture, anything is possible!
Good Google Reviews can make a positive impact on your business, but you had better make sure you have a process in place to monitor the site as well as others. Nothing speaks louder than an unhappy customer with zero reaction from the company. Even if it is an automatic response ( as many are ), it is still better than nothing. Keeping track of your online reputation is a must.
The Case For Surveys
Online reviews have their place, however they can never be a total replacement for conducting your own internal research. Whether you are using mystery shopping or customer surveys, a business in today’s climate can never have too much customer interaction. The Voice of the Customer is still heard the loudest in the form of surveys.
Time is money and money is time. Keep your surveys short and to the point. A short survey that is viewed as easy to take by a customer will garner some excellent results.
We have a B2B client who measures delivery satisfaction. The customer is asked to complete a 4 question Mobile survey right in the moment of experience. Drivers are incentivized to deliver good surveys. This program has run for about a year now and each month the client receives well over a hundred surveys and it is growing. When you factor in word of mouth about the program internally, and good old-fashioned competition, you can create an actionable program for pennies a day!
With today’s surveys one has many more options to make an engaging experience for your customers. Here is a great example. Consider how many people took to Tik Tok over the past year! Why? Because they were stuck indoors and found it to be very entertaining. Short, creative and sometimes educational videos by real people on all kinds of topics. In fact, the demographic of users increased because of word of mouth advertising. What started out being a young person’s social site is now used by parents and even some grandparents.
What if we could bring the same level of enthusiasm to a survey?
Allow the respondent to take a photo right within the survey. A restaurant customer may love to show a photo of what their entree looked like when they received it! Or how about someone who was asked to upload a photo on how they used the product once it was taken home? It is a more up close and personal kind of question.
Try using some humor when crafting your questions or even try using humor in your answers. For example, if fitting for your survey, use words other than excellent, very good , good, etc.. This depends on your customer demographic of course. According to humorthatworks.com, “A survey is only as good as the responses it receives from the responders”. One way to increase the number of survey responses is to use humor to make your surveys fun.” For an excellent rating you could call it “out of the park fantastic”, for example.
Change the wording of traditional questions. Anyone who has taken a survey, knows the “standard” questions most ask. They can become so redundant that the respondent doesn’t even think about the answer. Take the question ““How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” Boring. Instead try ““Has our service been fantastic enough that you’d happily tell you friends about us?”
So don’t disregard the old survey methodologies quite yet. They just need sprucing up a bit and some creative thinking!