Undercover Boss Brings Exposure to Mystery Shopping

Posted on February 24, 2011 by Nanette BrownComments

The television show 'Undercover Boss' sheds new light on the mystery shopping industry for those that have never contemplated the benefits of using this type of service. This show takes high ranking executives from major American companies and follows them as they step out of their comfortable offices and get their hands dirty. These executives work alongside entry level employees to get a better feel for what makes their companies tick. The show is entertaining for those that enjoy seeing some of the country's wealthy business people demonstrate a frequent inability to succeed while working in labor-intensive positions. But it offers much more too as it provides a unique look at how mystery shopping works and the benefits it provides.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Choosing a Mystery Shopping Provider: Five Essential Questions

Posted on February 17, 2011 by David RichComments

With literally hundreds of providers eager to help you implement a mystery shopping program, knowing where to begin and what to look for can feel like a mystery in itself. Fortunately, finding the provider that’s right for your and your business comes down to answering five essential questions.

1. What’s Their Track Record?

The increasing recognition that mystery shopping programs can be used as an indispensable tool for increasing revenue and improving service has recently generated a proliferation of fly-by-night providers. And, while many of these providers assuredly offer quality services, researching the history of your potential mystery shopping provider is vital.
To get a read on any potential provider’s track record, here’s what you should consider asking:
Where has the provider been doing business, and for how long? Look for a provider with proof of a six month track record, minimum (obviously, the longer the better!).
Can you contact satisfied customers for a recommendation? In the customer service world where the “customer is king,” be suspicious of any provider who can’t offer such a list.
What qualitative and quantitative data gathering and analysis measures does the provider use? If they can’t clearly outline such measures in the abstract, can they really do it with your actual data?
What they will offer you and how much it will cost? More importantly, how do their rates and services compare with at least one other provider?

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Topics: Customer Experience, Blog

Mystery Shopping Program Frequency

Posted on February 7, 2011 by David RichComments

One of the Most Frequently Asked Questions that I hear about setting up a mystery shopping program deals with frequency of shops. Should we choose once a day, once a week, once a month, or once a quarter? My answer is always the same: it depends on your program goals and your budget. Let's face it- all retailers want to meet or even exceed their goals, but not all have the budget to support daily or even weekly programs. So while my standard answer to the Most Frequently Asked Question may sound overly broad, it actually based on what I like to call the principle of Maximization vs. Optimization.

Maximization vs. Optimization is based on a very sound mystery shopping formula:

When budgets are limited, it is generally better to shop fewer stores on a more frequent basis than all stores less frequently. You may, for example, decide it is more important to shop your top 30 best-performing stores. Or you may want to establish different frequencies, or rotate your stores and districts. There are an infinite variety of ways to create the program that works best for you, but the bottom line is to remember that there are enough variations possible to allow you to get the most out of your program without sacrificing the crucial data you need to meet your program goals. When it comes down to whether you should conduct your program quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily, there are other factors to consider:

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Ignoring Results of Customer Research

Posted on January 20, 2011 by David RichComments

Many companies use surveys to measure objectives like employee behaviors or brand perceptions. But the data collected is often ignored. So why collect the data if it is not going to be used correctly?

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Topics: Customer Satisfaction

ICC/Decision Services Partners with STELLAService to Launch E-Shops

Posted on January 10, 2011 by David RichComments

Will Provide a Customer Service Benchmarking and Competitive Intelligence Program for Online Retailers

New York, NY (PRWEB) January 10, 2011 -- ICC/Decision Services is proud to announce a new partnership with STELLAService, the authority for measuring and benchmarking online customer service performance. David Rich, President & CEO of ICC/Decision Services, explains: "STELLAService is the most trusted provider of customer service evaluation programs for Internet retailers. The opportunity to team up with STELLAService to deploy the E-Shops business solution, in conjunction with the brick and mortar analysis we already provide to some of the world's most recognized brands, will allow us to offer a genuine 360 degree view of the customer experience to our current and future client base."

Jordy Leiser, CEO and Co-Founder of STELLAService, agrees. "This partnership offers online retailers unique and compelling insight into their online customer service performance while simultaneously benchmarking that performance against their peers. In today's marketplace, the competitive advantage lies with those who continuously evaluate and obsess over the online customer experience. From website features to shipping, delivery, and returns metrics to customer support capabilities and performance, the leaders in e-commerce closely monitor their service proposition and how it stacks up to the competition. Working with ICC/Decision Services to combine our comprehensive approach with its time-tested process of measuring and reporting on customer experience data will enable retailers to gain crucial insight into the quality and consistency of their online service."

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Topics: News

ICC/Decision Services’ SMART tool helps retailers track and manage their social media image

Posted on January 9, 2011 by David RichComments

By: Joseph Tarnowski, Progressive Grocer
But just as social media can spread a negative message like wildfire, it can do the same for positive messages, too, and the natural and organic foods retailer leveraged this fact to get back into consumers’ good graces, by posting a note on its Facebook page that explained its position, and then by actually thanking those who provided feedback, and by reassuring consumers that they are priority No. 1.

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Topics: Customer Experience

ICC/Decision Services’ SMART tool helps retailers track and manage their social media image

Posted on January 8, 2011 by David RichComments

By: Joseph Tarnowski, Progressive Grocer
But just as social media can spread a negative message like wildfire, it can do the same for positive messages, too, and the natural and organic foods retailer leveraged this fact to get back into consumers’ good graces, by posting a note on its Facebook page that explained its position, and then by actually thanking those who provided feedback, and by reassuring consumers that they are priority No. 1.

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Topics: Resources, Articles

Loyalty Myths: Hyped Strategies That Will Put You Out of Business -- and Proven Tactics That Really Work

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Nanette BrownComments

In Loyalty Myths, the authors have assembled 53 of the most common beliefs about customer loyalty – all of them wrong or misconceived! Each of the beliefs in this book is debunked with real-world examples. While other books speak in platitudes; this book is the only one to validate each proposition with real data.

Granted unprecedented access to customer records from a variety of multi-national corporations. Through these records, Ipsos Loyalty was able to precisely track the impact of this customer-centric construct on actual purchasing behavior. The authors’ findings and conclusions will stun business leaders around the world. The lessons learned from these provide a true guide for the proper use of customer loyalty.

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Topics: Books

The Customer Delight Principle : Exceeding Customers' Expectations for Bottom-Line Success

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Nanette BrownComments

The Customer Delight Principle shows how customer delight -- not mere satisfaction -- drives repeat purchasing and customer loyalty. The book details how your company can build a customer delight-oriented organization and reveals many of the roadblocks that you are likely to encounter. How to monitor customer delight results, including measurement and validation against revenue, is covered, as is formulating payback curves for a customer delight investment, allocating resources for continued customer delight improvements, and the continued benchmarking of results.

Statistics show that customer satisfaction alone is not enough. Over 60% of customers lost by companies have reported that they were at least "satisfied," in their experience with the company.

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Topics: Books

Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business in Today's Consumer-Driven World

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Nanette BrownComments

In June 2006, a man named Vincent Ferrari had a shockingly combative conversation with an AOL sales rep; he recorded it and posted it on YouTube. More than 62,827 viewings later, AOL's reputation was irretrievably damaged. In the digital age, disgruntled customers are now in the driver's seat, argues Blackshaw in this thoughtful and engaging book. With the advent of Consumerist.com and other venues where customers can blow off steam about bad service or deficient products, consumer generated media is a force to be reckoned with. Since consumers trust other consumers above companies or brands, a company's success depends on its credibility and its ability to gain the trust and support of Web-savvy, outspoken and influential customers.

Through remarkable stories of mass consumer advocacy and the power of bloggers and ordinary Joes with an Internet connection and a bone to pick, Blackshaw advises executives on how to build credibility into their businesses through blogs, Web sites and video postings. Informative, energetic and entertaining, this is a marvelous argument for corporate responsibility and accountability, interesting to laypeople and instructive for executives. (July)

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Topics: Books

The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth

Posted on January 5, 2011 by Nanette BrownComments

Almost everyone appreciates the importance of customer satisfaction in business, but this book takes that idea to two extremes. First, it claims that customer satisfaction is more important than any business criterion except profits. Second, it argues that customer satisfaction is best measured by one simple question, "Would you recommend this business to a friend?" Pressure for financial performance tempts executives to seek "bad profits," that is, profits obtained at the expense of frustrating or disappointing customers. Such profits inflate short-term financial results, Reichheld writes, but kill longer-term growth.

Only relentless focus on customer satisfaction can generate "good profits." One unambiguous question, with answers delivered promptly, can force organizational change, he claims. Reichheld makes a strong rhetorical case for his ideas, but is weaker on supporting evidence. The negative examples he gives are either well-known failures or generic entities like "monopolies," "cell phone service providers" and "cable companies." When presenting statistics on poor performers, the names are omitted "for obvious reasons."

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Topics: Books

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Toy Category

Posted on December 22, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

In recent weeks, ICC/Decision Services conducted 1621 mystery shops measuring 9 categories at over 50 retailers in 30 locations per retailer. That resulted in over 10,000 data points gathered by our Mystery Shopping and Secret Shopping efforts. In the toys category our mystery shoppers visited Toys ‘R Us and the toy departments of Target and Walmart.

Toys ‘R Us came out on top, followed by Target and then Walmart. We buy gifts for everyone at the holidays, but who do most of us focus on? Kids if we have them. Toys are a ubiquitous holiday purchase. So why in the world did our secret shoppers find the toy category rating so low on service and sales? What’s wrong with this picture and better yet, what’s the opportunity we see in this?

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Sporting Goods Category

Posted on December 20, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

In recent weeks, ICC/Decision Services conducted 1621 mystery shops measuring 9 categories at 50 retailers in 30 locations per retailer. That resulted in over 10,000 data points gathered by our Mystery Shopping and Secret Shopping efforts. In the Sporting Goods category, The Sports Authority came out just ahead of Dick’s Sporting Goods. As has been true in so many of the results found by our mystery shopping experience this pre-holiday season, the stores were far better at service than sales. We’re seeing missed opportunity yet again. The economy has picked up some and retail sales are expected to be up by more than 2% this year. Why then, do the sporting goods store rate at about 30 out of 100 when it comes to suggesting items to buy to the customers in their stores? We see tremendous potential to increase revenue by teaching employees how to suggest other items and point out special offers and promotions. Whether sales are incentive-based or not, there are simple, polite and gracious ways to turn friendly employees into friendly sales people who drive profits to the retailer by helping customers get exactly what they want.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Specialty Category

Posted on December 17, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

In recent weeks, ICC/Decision Services conducted 1621 mystery shops measuring 9 categories at 50 retailers in 30 locations per retailer. That resulted in over 10,000 data points gathered by our Mystery Shopping and Secret Shopping efforts. The specialty category is where our Mystery Shoppers found the overall best retailer, most prepared for the holiday season: Yankee Candles is number one. They are followed in this order by: Bath and Body Works, Build-A-Bear and Sephora. Why does Yankee Candle stand out in their category? The ranked high on service and selling, our secret shopper’s results revealed this to be an all too rare combination. Gracious and friendly customer service is a critical part of the customer experience and it absolutely factors in to the overall impression and whether or not the customer will return to the store. When you can combine excellent and friendly service with selling skills that assist customers in buying the things they want or desire but may not be aware of – that’s when you hit the sweet spot of increasing profits. Most customers make buying decisions at the store. Using strategic selling techniques to help them make those buying decisions can result in millions of dollars more in profits, especially during the holiday season when so many more customers are visiting retail stores.

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Topics: Blog

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Office Supply Category

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Our recent survey of 54 brick-and-mortar stores included visits to 30 locations at each chain across the country. Over 1,600 store visits were conducted over the last two months and 10,000 data points collected.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Customer Experience Update