How to Use Mystery Shopping for Competitor Research

Posted on July 16, 2013 by David RichComments

Imagine this:

You’re a retailer. You’ve done well for the past decade. After being the sole provider of the service you offer in your area, a competitor sets up shop a few miles from you.

At first, you keep a cool attitude about the future of your business—after all, you’ve had extremely satisfied customers for years now. What could this competitor possibly do to disrupt such customer loyalty?

Several months after the competitive opening, earnings begin to slide. It appears you’re losing business to the new retailer.

Not knowing why the other guy is doing so well can be extremely frustrating. But there’s a creative way around this problem: mystery shopping companies can provide competitor research data directly from the floor of a bricks-and-mortar competitor, the way a customer experiences them.

Conducting competitor research is certainly nothing new to the business world, but the means by which a retailer can receive actionable competitor data are now much broader given how connected we all are.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience

Create an Omnichannel Retail Strategy for Greater Brand Loyalty

Posted on July 11, 2013 by David RichComments

There’s no doubt the retail landscape has changed drastically since the introduction of eCommerce to the business world.

Although online shopping continues to grow nationwide, companies are beginning to take a fresh look at what makes the in-store experience valuable to shoppers given the assumed ease and convenience online outlets have to offer.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in-store purchases still make up the majority of sales transactions going on day-to-day. When we zoom in to see how eCommerce is affecting certain kinds of products, categories like books, clothing, and electronics are seeing some of the highest percentages of online sales, yet companies like Barnes and Noble continue to maintain a strong in-store component to their retail strategy.

With a study by the NPD Group finding 48% of book and stationary sales now taking place through online outlets (and growing), the future for bookstores may seem shaky. With people turning to the convenience of eBooks, why do people bother making the effort to meander the bookshelves inside physical stores anymore?

The answer is simple: innovation doesn’t mean completely converting your retail presence to the Internet—in-store customer experience remains the strongest component of consistent retail activity.

Shopping online for books is perhaps one of the least exciting ways to immerse yourself in the experience of discovering new things to read. Barnes and Noble realized this and consequently made their stores into exactly what people can’t get online: a place to sit down, drink a coffee, and thumb through some potential purchases in a social environment. As a result, they’re able to provide customers with a place to come back to time and time again to find what they’re looking for rather than battle with a multitude of online outlets engaging consumers in constant flux––chaotically shifting from company to company in a quest for the lowest price.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Retail, Customer Service

How Mystery Shopping Can Dispel the 4 Myths of Showrooming

Posted on July 9, 2013 by David RichComments

It was simpler before wasn’t it? Retailers wanted to make a profit and consumers wanted to make their dollar go further.

Recognizing this, the retailers set their prices fairly, and if the consumers agreed with the retailers, they made a purchase. And the entire process was wrapped in a great customer experience that included engaging personalized service.

But as we all know, mobile technology and ecommerce have thrown a kink into this once simpler process. Showrooming has become a very real concern for bricks-and-mortar retailers in recent years:

  • 46% of consumers use their smartphones to check prices and reviews while shopping at retail stores. (Source: Yankee Group, 2012)
  • While in a retail store, U.S. smartphone shoppers are most likely to look up facts and figures (15%), compare prices (11%), read reviews (9%), and compare the retailer’s prices to its web prices (8%). (Source: LJS Strategic Research, 2012)
  • 71% of U.S. smartphone shoppers compare prices in electronic stores (Source: Nielsen, 2012)

When we read statistics like these and consider the revenue we’re potentially losing, it’s easy to feel like we as retailers are at a standstill—a standstill that may eventually tip against us.

But that’s not true.

Though it may seem like bricks-and-mortar retailers are on the short end of innovation, there’s been emerging research lately suggesting that showrooming, though a potential threat, may still be largely misunderstood. In other words, we may be buying into more than a few myths.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Intercepts, Showrooming

Improve the Customer Experience to Make Showrooming Work for You

Posted on June 28, 2013 by David RichComments

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

A customer walks into a bricks-and-mortar store. She casually strolls the aisles, thumbing through racks of colorful knits and summer skirts. She pulls one down and holds it over her torso, admiring herself in a store mirror. She likes what she sees. You like what she sees: this is the moment a customer decides that this summer skirt is the perfect summer skirt, and she’s not leaving the store without her summer skirt.

Then, it happens.

The customer removes her smartphone from her pocket and swipes through a blur of icons before launching the app she’s looking for—the price check app.

She aims the phone at the price tag’s bar code. A moment later, the phone disappears, and so does the desiring look on the customer’s face you saw as she gazed at her reflection only seconds before.

The customer has left the store. The summer dress has not left the store. And you’re left wondering how a surefire sale dissolved so quickly before your eyes.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Showrooming

Seek Actionable Mystery Shopping Survey Data to Achieve Better Results

Posted on June 26, 2013 by David RichComments

When we talk about customer experience, it can be easy to get bogged down in semantics. If we started with the abstract idea of customer experience, then parsed out each piece of its meanings separately, we’d quickly realize that customer experience can’t be improved with a single prescription. Each of its many components requires separate criteria from which we can evaluate quality based on all aspects of an in-store experience.

A current critique of the mystery shopping industry is a lack of effective data having to do with aspects of a store environment that can actually be improved at a local level. In other words, when we think of what makes survey results “effective,” we’re talking about what is actionable. Before considering the specifics of what will make data from shoppers’ surveys actionable, first we must define the goal that the program is aiming to achieve.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience

ICC/Decision Services Publishes Results of Rx-cellence Benchmark Study

Posted on April 23, 2013 by Nanette BrownComments

New York City —Independent grocers surpass national and regional chains in pharmacy performance
according to a six-part survey of the nation’s top national, regional, independent and
specialty grocers. Conducted by ICC/Decision Services and drawing on 100,000 data
points, the STRONG study is a year-long analysis of how pharmacies rank in the key
areas of Suggestive Selling, Technology, Rx-cellence, Outstanding customer service,
Nutritional and Guide to social media. In the latest installment of the study (measuring
Rx-cellence), “Independents showed the highest rate of service in all aspects of
pharmacy interactions, including acknowledging customers in line, greeting them at
the service counter, fielding questions, and even escorting customers to products,”
according to Progressive Grocer, which published the results.

According to David Rich, President & CEO of ICC/Decision Services: “These metrics bear
out the adage that the best independent retailers can be ‘small enough to know you and
big enough to serve you.’” But, Rich continues, there are readily available tools for larger
grocers who want to see their pharmacies deliver improved service. Implementing a
documented training program that is reviewed with new and current associates, as well
as ongoing measurement of said practices can positively impact service, and as a result,
deepen customer loyalty. “

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Topics: News

Mobile Web ROI For Retailers

Posted on April 3, 2013 by David RichComments

Mobile websites have gained market acceptance at a dizzying rate. The iPhone did indeed change the retail environment forever. There is however, a certain amount of struggle retailer are going through as they try and figure out 1) How to best use mobile web technology and 2) How to measure its effectiveness. Google is further asserting itself in the realm of mobile advertising with a new tool that will help businesses measure their overall ROI on mobile ad spend.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Are Expensive TV Commercials Worth It?

Posted on March 29, 2013 by David RichComments

You can't be immersed in customer experience management and analysis without also having an ear finely tuned to the world of marketing. Here at ICCDS, commercials always have a bit more meaning than to a run-of-the-mill viewer. The brand awareness, core messaging, incentives and even ROI are all considerations. Armchair analysis can be a fun exercise, especially when viewing the cream of the crop - Super Bowl commercials. Here are "25 of the Best Super Bowl Commercials." It runs 15 minutes, but it's worth it:

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Topics: Brand Experience

Understanding Shopper Motivations and Marketing

Posted on March 28, 2013 by Nanette BrownComments

Marketing messaging tends to work best when it is closely matched to customer needs and wants. Emotional drivers that pull the shopper into the sale are often similar across your customer base.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Retail Sales and the 2013 Economy

Posted on March 27, 2013 by David RichComments

Retail sales have shown modest growth over the past few months. With a 1.1% increase in sales in February along side a pickup in inventories, there is reason to be optimistic. But when we take a look at some macro indicators, the debate begins.

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Topics: Customer Experience

The Future of Social Media in Mystery Shopping

Posted on March 20, 2013 by Nanette BrownComments

David Rich, President & CEO of ICC/Decision Services, will speak on October 18-20. The MSPA (Mystery Shopper Providers Association) will be conducting their 13th annual conference in Atlanta. The panel will discuss the future of social media in mystery shopping…

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Topics: News & Events

ICC/Decision Services Study Finds Retailers Falling Short On Customer Experience Management

Posted on March 20, 2013 by Nanette BrownComments

ICC/Decision Services, an international Customer Experience Management firm based in New York City, recently concluded a survey across 381 chain retailers to determine the current state of measuring the customer experience. The study went across…

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Topics: News & Events

Back- To-School Study: Shopping In-Store Is Cheaper And More Convenient Than Shopping Online

Posted on March 20, 2013 by Nanette BrownComments

As the $83.8 billion back-to-school shopping season kicks in, a new independent study reveals that while shopping online may save customers some time, a trip to the mall can pay off in savings as well as overall convenience… Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. A iusto impedit odit molestiae voluptates nostrum esse soluta commodi mollitia quo. Voluptatum illo reiciendis praesentium rem labore fugit architecto est iusto.

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Topics: News & Events

15 Companies With The Worst Customer Service

Posted on March 15, 2013 by David RichComments

An interesting article appeared on the Huffington Post - 15 Companies With the Worst Customer Service. No company wants to wind up on any such list - on a blog or otherwise. There are some interesting observations about this list…

Four of the top ten are airlines! This probably doesn't surprise anyone. Delta (3), US Airways (4), American (6) and United (10) round out this group. The airlines have tried, they really have. Think about all the mileage programs and other points and loyalty programs you have come across. The airlines do what they can, but they have two very large obstacles working against them.

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Topics: Customer Satisfaction

Customer Responsibility and Experience

Posted on March 4, 2013 by David RichComments

Customer satisfaction has many components. Some are easy to manipulate, like setting up a customer-focused return policy. Others are more difficult. Employee behavior is one of those difficult items. Not because policy challenging to set, but because human behavior is dynamic and fluid. Even a star employee may have an off day.

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Topics: Customer Experience

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