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Competitive Intelligence Advantages

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.

Sales Prevention

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!

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Audits- Brand, Legal Compliance, Reveal, Price and Merchandising

Store Audit

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 Audit

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:

  1. Provide visual confirmation of brand presentation and representation
  2. Document that brand integrity is maintained
  3. 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

  1. Ensure employees understand the importance of industry regulations and the severity of infractions
  2. Protect your company from the repercussions of negligence
  3. Maintain corporate integrity

What is a Retail Audit?

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:

  • Damaged products
  • Stock levels (including stock on your shelves and stock out the back)
  • Sales volume
  • 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.”

Keep in mind that with all of this comes the opportunity to evaluate the customer experience.

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3 Steps to Improve Customer Service

customer service

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.

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