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What If We Treat All Customers Like They Were The Secret Shopper?


While flipping through channels last week, I came across this NBC Show called Superstore. At first glance, it seems to be a rather cheesy sitcom that is dangerously close to the look and feel of Walmart.


I could not help but notice when they started talking about “secret shoppers” – take a listen to the first two minutes of the episode:



A few points made me laugh out loud, mostly because these are things we’ve heard from clients’ employees over the last 17 years. This show highlights many of the misconceptions around mystery shopping:


1. Mystery shopping isn’t used to ‘clean house’  – on the contrary, mystery shopping programs help companies improve. In fact, most use them in a positive manner, whether it’s offering bonuses when scores come in high and key service points are hit, or factored into performance reviews.


2. One shop makes or breaks a location – mystery shopping programs are run best when shops are consistently performed each and every month. The frequency depends on the size of the business, so your company may conduct shops once per month, once per week, or even multiple times per week. It’s not about one shop report, but rather the trends that are shown over time.


And my favorite….


3. “Let’s spend our time figuring out who the shopper is and slather them with good service.” As you’ll see in this video, the manager says, “What if we were to treat every customer as the secret shopper?” That’s exactly the point! The goal of mystery shopping programs is to make staff aware of customer service expectations and make sure they happen on each and every customer interaction.


This was a fun way to highlight employee views of mystery shopping in a fun, exaggerated manner, but also drives home the misperceptions in the industry. If your staff are feeling this way, it might be a good idea to review how you are portraying the program to your staff and reminding them of the overall objective of the program.


Share Failing to Rival Amazon

When news of emerging as a new e-commerce site whose goal was to beat the Amazon giant, there was much speculation as to whether this could happen, and if so, HOW it could happen. Amazon is well established as an e-commerce leader and continues to improve every year.

The most recent struggle was with delivery fulfillment during the holidays. Though they tried, news circulated a week before Christmas that the company admitted they could no longer guarantee Christmas delivery on many items unless they were specificially marked for two day delivery. They blamed fulfillment partners, as indicated by a statement on their website in the days leading up to Christmas, which stated, “this year’s holiday gift rush has led to nationwide shipping delays that have affected many of our fulfillment partners.”

Sounds like they had a difficult time of their first holiday season. Where else has the retailer struggled since their launch?

Originally, the site was charging membership fees of $50 annually for customers to use their site. Lower prices rivaling their main competitor were being offered, and the company’s thought was that money would be made from the membership fees. However, they failed to find success with this model, and, in October, the company dropped their membership fees. This could potentially keep the company from being able to compete with Amazon’s low prices, yet another hurdle in the startup’s first year.

Delivery dates are another work in progress in the coming year. When news broke about the possibility of not living up to Christmas delivery promises, the Chief Customer Officer, Liza Landsman, revealed in a Forbes interview that they hope to provide exact delivery timeframes in 2016, as opposed to the estimated delivery time frames currently being offered to customers.

It sounds like their first year is almost under their belt, and came with a few bumps in the road, as to be expected. However, despite their challenges, it sounds like they had a great year – the company reached their goal of $44.9 million in gross merchandise sales, and just reached the 2 million member mark.

It remains to be seen if, or any other e-commerce site for that matter, could ever give Amazon a run for their money. Jet is surely trying, and the next two years will give better insight as to whether or not they can make their dream a reality.