Mixed Messages and Mixed Research: Mystery Shops, Customer Surveys and Social Media

May 31, 2012 by Confero Inc.

On the spot restaurant reviews, customer service remarks, and feedback on wait times. Whatever customers talk about online, managers immediately learn about customer feelings when they monitor social media. While these instantaneous comments are an important part of understanding customer opinions, the feedback is very different from customer experience services such as mystery shops and customer satisfaction surveys.

Casual online comments travel fast, and make a substantial impact on potential customer buying decisions as well as employee morale. Onsite and telephone mystery shopping results help companies reward employees for positive sales behaviors and fine tune training efforts. Customer opinions through web or mobile surveys provide honest input about employees and services. With these differences in mind, and the added complexity of random online comments, many companies wonder how all three types of research fit together.


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Top 10 Mystery Shopping Uses

May 31, 2012 by Confero Inc.

Last year, we wrote a well-received article about 25 business types for mystery shopping programs, drawing from our years of experience with a variety of clients in many industries. From convenience stores to upscale retailers to restaurants and medical practices, mystery shopping reports go a long way toward revealing how well employees interact with customers on a daily basis.

So, how do our clients use mystery shopping? Mostly, mystery shopping is used to find out about those things customers won’t tell you in surveys or social media comments, or issues you can't discover by asking customers. If our client has a customer service delivery process or set of procedures in place for fulfilling a brand promise in front of a consumer customer, chances are the process can by mystery shopped.

We’ve compiled our top ten list of mystery shopping uses here.


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Please Hang Up So I Can Serve You!  Serving the Smartphone-Distracted Customer

Mar 28, 2012 by Confero Inc.

When you think about mobile devices and their impact on the in-person customer experience, have you considered that nearly 2 billion people will have Smartphones by 2017? If not, you should!

You should also consider how your employees serve these distracted customers.

  • Do your new accounts personnel approach waiting customers, only to find them with their heads down, texting away?
  • Do your servers wait for diners to look up from their cell phones?
  • Do your retail associates stand awkwardly while a distracted cell phone talker holds up the line?

From restaurants to banks to retail stores and beyond, busy associates encounter the same challenge - customers who multi -task with cell phone conversations, texting or using an Ipad. In response to this growing phenomenon, we wanted to take a closer look at the ways that distracted customers impact customer experience in these industries.


Mobile-crazed Diners

Rather than embracing mobile trends, some restaurants simply ask customers not to use their cell phones inside their locations. For example,


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Facebook Customer Interactions: How Responsive Are You?

Mar 27, 2012 by Confero Inc.

When you post a question to a company’s Facebook page, do you ever wonder who is behind the scenes reading the content, and how long it will take to see a response? With all attention on Facebook’s new Timeline, many retail companies focus not only on conversion of their existing pages to the new format, but also on improving their Facebook customer response strategies. These strategies require constant revisions, as companies strive to ensure sufficient social media monitoring and staff ready to reply to customer questions, concerns and comments.

Expectations for very fast replies in the customer service world are higher than ever, and companies face real challenges in meeting these demands real time. When it comes to Facebook, some retail companies are very responsive, while others delete comments and never reply to them at all.

According to a recent article, some surprising popular, big retail names appear to be lacking


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Are Employees Gaming Your Incentive Program?

Nov 29, 2011 by Confero Inc.

People tend to do those things for which they are rewarded. To encourage employees to provide the customer service promised to our customers, employee incentive and recognition programs are put into place to reward employees who engage in desired behaviors or who achieve specific outcomes. 

Desired behaviors can be measured by mystery shopping programs, manager reports, audits, customer feedback measures and performance reviews. Specific outcomes can be measured by sales amounts, referral numbers and the like.

No incentive program is perfect and, over time, sometimes employees figure out a way around the system to “earn” the incentive. In other words, sometimes employees “game the system”.

Here are some common games we see. We hope they help you in planning to avoid them.

The Game: Trick the Technology

If an organization uses technology alone to measure key service metrics and reward performance with incentives, the system is usually an easy target for gaming the system.

The modify the order trick. A mystery shopper overheard a training conversation at the first of two drive through windows at a quick service restaurant. When the mystery shopper attempted to hand the employee payment, the mystery shopper heard the trainer saying “No, never just accept the payment. Always be sure to click on Modify Order then click Ok  before you accept the customer’s payment. This will restart the timer on our transactions so our service times will look good.”

The ring up single items as multiples trick. At a grocery store checkout, the cashier entered a fresh bagel purchase as


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