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Mystery shoppers can be found everywhere, or not

Anonymous shoppers are infiltrating businesses to rate the customer service and report back to management. They love their job, not to mention the freebies.

They anonymously infiltrate stores, restaurants, airlines - any business that relies on customer service. Then they rate the quality of service they received.

Kelly Bowdler runs Cheers Business Solutions, which commands the ever-increasing number of 'mystery shoppers' – but we need a lot more!

"Sometimes it might be takeaway food items, sometimes it's clothing, sometimes go to a motel, sometimes a flight - really quite varied," Kelly said.

These days more and more New Zealand companies are calling on Kelly Bowdler to help keep stock of their staff, but as funny as it sounds … it is hard to find people in New Zealand who want freebies or who want to get paid to shop!

(Recently profiled on Australia’s leading current affair programs Today Tonight an A Current Affair

Shopping detectives dishing out the dirt on retailers: and retails are applauding it!

“I was told that my staff member complained to the customer that I was tight and overworked my staff”. “I found out that one of my staff members had a constant bad attitude to customers and spend most of the day chatting to her friends on her mobile”. “When I am around my staff are great, but I soon found out that as soon as I walked out the door all hell broke loose! No wonder I’m going broke!” Believe it or not, these are all comments from happy retailers!

They are happy because now they are ‘aware’ they can fix the problem before it’s too late.

In today's competitive market, businesses are becoming smarter in the way in which they do business. The secret is to find the competitive edge!

If you have the same product for the same price, what is going to attract a customer to keep coming back to your store?

The answer is good old CUSTOMER SERVICE!

Customer service has come a long way! Good customer service is no longer just about a smile. In-fact excellent customer service covers a cross section of staff competencies such as store appearance; merchandise appeal; staff presentation; acknowledgement of a customer; approach of a customer; identifying a customers needs; up-sell; cross sell; purchase transaction and farewell (just to name a few).

Consumers are agreeing and talking with their feet. Recent research from the International Customer Service Institute has revealed that:

1. 78% of customers who stop buying do so because of an attitude of indifference or rudeness shown by an employee.

2. 96% of unhappy customers do not complain when dissatisfied, but do more damage by telling others.

3. One unhappy customer will tell 9-10 other people of their bad experience. These people will tell more than 20 others about this experience.

4. It costs 5 times more to make a new customer than to keep an existing one.

5. Word-of-mouth advertising has more credibility than any other form of external marketing.

6. When people think about a particularly great (or terrible) experience with a business, almost inevitably it had to do with how they were treated.

Lets face it we have all had good and bad experiences. The biggest challenge for a business is consistency.

Whether you are a multi-franchise operation or a small business owner it is always difficult to maintain a consistent high level of ‘customer service’that employees are expected to deliver day in and day out.

Companies across New Zealand are recruiting the services of mystery shopping companies to evaluate the level of customer service their customers are receiving.

A mystery shopper is someone who anonymously observes and objectively documents the quality of service at a store or business on a given day.

Mystery shoppers can be found — or, rather, not found — everywhere from restaurants and automotive shops to video rental chains, convenience stores, department stores, government departments and real estate agencies.

Companies such as CBS then report back to the client monthly on their findings.

It’s not just a tool to identify a training need for staff, but it also works to recognise a job well done. In some cases staff bonuses are a reward to staff who get a good result.

With this in mind staff begin to treat every customer as though they may be a ‘shopper detective’.

Before you know it the standard of customer service to consumers improves, customers come back, staff sell more, profit increases, staff take more pride in their work and best of all …. Consumers get better service!

"The CBS program enables me to view comments to every KPI observation. I receive objective reports, but at the same time I get the feel of how the customer was feeling during the interaction. I then use the Action Plan and retrain or reward my staff. It saves me so much time and I get great results" - Store Manager

"We are really proud when we receive a great report. Once we received an award for the best in the region and we all went out and partied" - Staff Member

"It's good to see what the staff are up to when we are not there. I found out where to make the improvements and who needed more training" - Small Business Proprietor

"Our gross profit has and will continue to increase. This is directly due to the CBS mystery shopping program." - Franchisor

"All staff have started to treat every customer as though they were a mystery shopper, so they now up-sell and cross-sell to every customer - not just when I'm there" - Retail Store Proprietor

Kelly Bowdler
National Councillor – Customer Service Institute
Director - Cheers Business Solutions Pty Ltd

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