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How Mystery Shopping Helps C-Stores


Below is an excerpt from a recent commentary discussing the benefits of using a mystery shopping program to determine what drives customer satisfaction in the C-store industry that I find interesting and applicable to most, if not all, industries…


“The client’s mystery shopping program scores its channel partners three times year and what’s been revealed is that locations attaining high marks on mystery shops and audits sell more gas, regardless of fuel prices. In the first year of the program alone, the client’s channel partners experienced a double-digit increase in average monthly volume.”


You can read the entire article by clicking here. It’s a good read and drives home the point that mystery shopping is not only used as an objective measurement for operational standards, but can help pinpoint factors that will make companies a success.



Customer Feedback Programs: The Social Media Advantage


Customer feedback programs are effective tools to learn how your customers perceive your business and provide you with feedback for improvements, but it doesn’t come without limitations; response rate is important, and making sure you’re not only receiving the “extremes” (highly positive or negative feedback only) also plays a factor in the success of your program.


One discussion across the industry is whether or not social media will become a new form, or completely replace, customer feedback programs in the future. Let’s face it – people are more likely to voice their opinions on blogs, forums, and other sites than provide that feedback directly to the company. There is also a feeling of anonymity online that allows people to be more honest in these forums.


By not keeping tabs on social media surrounding your company, brands may be missing out on potential opportunity. For example, if you’re not monitoring online conversations, you may miss the post of a dissatisfied customer. By not knowing this information and not being able to respond in some way, it can be a lost chance to re-engage that customer and get them to return in the future.
Social media monitoring tools are more sophisticated than they were even a year ago. This development provides analytical data that can be incorporated into the more traditional customer feedback data. Why is this important? First, it gives deeper information on what makes customers tick, and secondly, if can alert a company to potential challenges with their current feedback system. For example, if feedback is coming back at a 95% satisfaction rate, yet online conversations lend to a lower rate, it may be that you are only collecting feedback (or making it inviting enough) from the completely satisfied customers. Is there something you can be doing differently to encourage all customers, regardless of their experience, to share their thoughts?


It could be a case of asking the wrong questions. If the questions on a feedback survey are too general, or only focus on one aspect of your business, you may be missing out on valuable feedback. Take, for example, a restaurant’s customer feedback survey. If it asks general questions about the service a customer received and the overall experience, that’s all well and good. However, if social conversations are suggesting that customers are dissatisfied with the food quality or portion size, it may be time to take those issues to your customers in your formal feedback program. If you’re not asking the right questions, you may not be getting full information and miss the opportunity for customer loyalty and retention.


With all of the talk about companies monitoring what people are saying online, taking further steps by analyzing the information coming in, and engaging with customers, I can see how this might complement, but not fully replace, customer feedback programs.


For now, companies can think of social media as yet another tool at their disposal to learn more about their customers and see their business from the customer’s perception. It’ll be interesting to watch social media evolve over the next few years; its evolution over the last two years has been quite remarkable alone!


New Feature: Customer Feedback Scores Incorporated Into Mystery Shopping


Many clients choose to use their mystery shopping provider to dispatch customer feedback surveys as well. This is a great idea, as the data is all collected on one portal, making the data capture more efficient for companies.


Over the years, clients wished there was a way to easily see data from their feedback program incorporated into the mystery shopping report. Well, the time has come!


One of our new features allows the satisfaction score to be displayed on a mystery shopping report. When customer feedback programs capture data filtered by the location the customer visited, this data can be imported on a location specific basis.
What does it look like? Take a look at this sample mystery shopping report. The header of each report provides dashboard reporting to help clients see at a glance how the company and/or location is doing. The boxed area now displays customer feedback satisfaction scores for that period of time for both the location and company levels in this example:


Because the dashboard widgets at the top of the mystery shopping reports are fully customizable, you can choose how you’d like to see the data so it makes the most sense to you and key stakeholders.

Just another nice feature we wanted to share!