Adapting Traditional Mystery Shopping Programs to Omnichannel Retail Environments

Posted on September 10, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

There’s no doubt technology has been pushing the retail industry to adapt for years now. We’ve been covering the current technology-driven trends in mobile, ecommerce and customer service otherwise known as the omnichannel environment as well as practical customer experience approaches such as mystery shopping and customer intercept surveys. Now we’re asking the question: How do the two sides relate?

At first glance, it might seem like the tried-and-true customer experience evaluation methods such as mystery shopping are simply not enough to accurately assess such a technologically complex environment. With many customers walking into the store already having researched exactly what they’re looking for, the expectations of the customer have expanded to the point where in-store staff must reorient their roles to fit these expectations accordingly.

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Blog

Fine-Tuning Your Customer Experience Strategy with Social Clienteling

Posted on September 5, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

This week we’d like to delve further into the idea of insight-driven customer engagement strategies otherwise known as clienteling.

If you missed our first blog post on the subject, the concept basically boils down to a system by which customers are compelled to return to your store as a result of exceptional in-store experiences. What is less apparent to the customer is the fact that such experiences don’t simply appear out of thin air—they’re very much the end result of a measured and fine-tuned process.

This process however is not a one-size-fits-all series of steps. It’s a fluid system tied to customer expectations. As we’ve explained before, providing quality customer experience is becoming more and more a task requiring investment in omnichannel integration and development. As customers continue to become self-taught experts about the products they seek, retailers must increasingly rely on a stable and accessible network of channels that their customers can use to interact with the brand in a convenient way.

When this kind of multilayered customer experience strategy combines with traditional clienteling, “social clienteling” is born.

Read More

Topics: Clienteling, Customer Experience, Blog

Customer Experience Insights: Q&A With Author Shep Hyken

Posted on September 4, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

This article is part of our Top CX Experts Series.

We recently sat down with Shep Hyken, author of Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet to delve deeper into the themes and examples found in his new book. Shep has helped a wide variety of companies achieve the customer experience results they’ve been looking for by sewing the seeds of lasting relationships between employees and customers.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Blog, Top CX Experts

ICC/Decision Services Issues Scam Warning to Consumers

Posted on August 28, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

New York-based customer experience management company warns consumers of potentially fraudulent mystery shopper scams.

Read More

Topics: News

Creating A Culture Of Customer Experience Excellence Through Clienteling

Posted on August 27, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments


Consumers today have more power at their fingertips than ever before. For the past few weeks, we’ve been covering the emergence of the omnichannel retail environment and the implications it has on customer experience strategies across a wide range of retail industries.

Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into what this means at the store level.

It’s clear now that customers aren’t utilizing multiple retail channels one at a time––they’re often using more than one simultaneously. Customers are increasingly utilizing the combination of in-store retail and mobile connectivity as a way to transform the physical retail environment into a showrooming extravaganza.

The scenario usually looks something like this:

  1. A customer researches a product online with a mobile device or eCommerce platform.
  2. After finding that a particular retail location is carrying it, they enter the in-store environment to interact with it and confirm it’s actually what they’re looking for.
  3. The customer pulls out their phone and runs a quick search to see if other retailers are offering it for less money.
  4. If they can’t find a lower price, they make a purchase. If they do find a lower price, they leave empty handed having used your store as nothing more than a showroom.

This new power of instant product research forces retailers to change in such a way to present their customers with a reason to view the in-store shopping experience as unique and valuable.

One approach gaining traction in the retail world is clienteling. In short, clienteling is a way to optimize in-store customer experience to boost point of sale (POS) transactions while the customer is still in the store, before they feel compelled to leave and seek out competing prices.

Let’s look at the details:

Read More

Topics: Clienteling, Customer Experience

Customer Experience Insights August 2013

Posted on August 21, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

For the second installment of our monthly Customer Experience recap, the ICC/Decision Services Team would like to share with our blog readership a few of this month’s interesting developments in the field of Customer Experience.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us via Twitter (@ICCDSLive) or contact us directly if you have questions or comments regarding the content we share.

Best wishes,

The ICC/Decision Services Team

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience

Mystery Shopping 101: The Basics of a Customer Experience Assessment Plan

Posted on August 19, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

Let’s start at the very beginning. If you’re hearing the term “mystery shopping” for the very first time in your life, you might picture a shadowy character darting around the aisles of a department store looking for a clue to some kind of important crime case.

Although a riveting idea, this is not mystery shopping. The “mystery” in this case doesn’t mean some type of unsolved problem, but rather the shopper themselves.

Mystery shopping, essentially, is just one of many ways a company typically involved in product-based commerce of some sort can get an idea for the kind of company they are from the customer’s perspective.

First, a dialog is established between the company interested in putting together a program and the mystery-shopping provider itself. After a plan is in place based on the goals of the client, a survey is constructed and given to experienced mystery shoppers who then enter stores and evaluate them as any regular customer would. The results are compiled, compared and then analyzed to create the starting point for an adjustment plan.

Gathering data from this perspective gives companies a much more accurate picture of what’s working and what could use improvement when it comes to creating the best experience for customers entering a store and interacting with both the products and the larger brand.

Read More

Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience

Back-to-School Shoppers Today, as Always, Value In-Store Customer Experience

Posted on August 13, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

It’s no secret that annual back-to-school shopping is big business. This year, revenues are projected to total $83.8 billion among K-12 shoppers in school supplies alone. Momentous nationwide shopping events like this beg a question: is ecommerce outperforming traditional bricks-and-mortar retail?

Admittedly, consumers are increasingly filling online shopping carts in addition to actual shopping carts. Today 40% of shoppers are expected to stay home and shop online, a figure that has doubled in just six years. But even with such a trend pointing to a broader offline-to-online transition for shoppers, the question of which medium offers the superior customer experience still looms in the distance.

Until now.

Comprehensive survey data aimed at comparing the online customer experience to the traditional in-store experience was collected from a variety of retailers, and it seems there might be trouble in e-paradise.

At first, the online experience seems like a sensible alternative: there are no long lines to wait in, inventory information is readily available, and there’s often a range of delivery options. But after taking a closer look, there may in fact be disadvantages to ecommerce, which may be influencing consumers to remain in the store this back-to-school season—at least for a while.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience

More Online Retailers Extend to In-Store Locations

Posted on August 8, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

People like to get hyped up about new technology and what it means for the future of how we live and interact with businesses as consumers. The rapid growth of eCommerce during the earlier days of the Web 2.0 era led many analysts and business owners to believe an Internet revolution had begun and the traditional in-store strategy was doomed to disappear.

In the coming years, however, trends seemed to stabilize and the exaggerated rhetoric began to leave from business and market discussions. Today, although US eCommerce sales continue to rise year after year as retailers increasingly implement omnichannel service strategies, the overall percent by which growth is taking place year-to-year is projected to decline steadily.

  • An eMarketer study finds that despite continued growth, eCommerce still only accounted for 6% of US retail sales in 2012. (Source)

Recent numbers also show that number has fallen by half a percent in the first part of 2013.

With such a consistently low portion of the total retail environment being taken by online transactions, what does this really mean for the online/offline dynamic in the coming years?

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience

Adapting Traditional Customer Experience Cycle to Omnichannel Retail

Posted on August 6, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

With the growing level of consumer connectedness demanding retailers shift their customer experience strategies from a multichannel approach to an omnichannel one, it’s easy to lose track of the essentials of what goes into crafting such a plan in the first place.

Mobile connectivity, consistency among separate retail channels, and delivering a satisfying degree of high-tech capabilities are all extremely important pieces to the customer experience puzzle, but the core tenants of the now well-established customer experience cycle should always serve as a foundation to inform your strategy adjustments.

The cycle as we know it today, consists of a series of steps which when realized as a moving system, make up the consumer’s overall retail experience. Before ideas like multichannel or omnichannel retailing came around, the contents of these steps were relatively narrow in scope—catalogs were essentially the only way customers could access products outside of the store itself, and customer retention rarely meant more than a mailing list.

Today, the complexity of eCommerce, mobile connectivity, and social media among other things, are changing not only the way consumers are finding and purchasing products, but also the way they’re sharing information about their experiences.

Let’s fit these new retail considerations into the cycle in order to start looking at ways to adapt effectively:

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience, Omnichannel

Customer Experience Update