When customers call and your hold line says, “Your call is very important to us,” is that the real message your customers are receiving? Or, if a customer enters your store and sees the slogan, “The customer is always right,” they may wonder if they really are right, and if a store owner will be willing to steer them in the right direction if they aren’t. During the recent economic downturn, businesses, including retail stores, have been following the philosophy that, “Time is Money.” However, does avoiding customer calls or directing customers to online resources rather than providing one on one communication really help your bottom line? According to American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted in the U.S. and nine other countries, “70 percent of the Americans surveyed are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.” So, if you are looking to make a sale, make sure you check your service.
Mystery Shoppers Can Help You Measure
Ron Welty, vice president of Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality, believes that using a mystery shopper may help independents better evaluate their customer service. Unlike a customer survey, which often receives emotional responses and opinions, a mystery shopper is trained to research specific service areas and provides an unbiased evaluation. With over 400 member companies worldwide, the MSPA’s diverse membership includes marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services and establishing mechanisms to measure and improve levels of service.
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A nationwide survey conducted for the Consumer Reports July 2011 edition, reveals that, “64 percent of respondents said that during the previous 12 months they had left a store because service was poor, and 67 percent had hung up on customer service without having had their problem addressed.” The survey also reports that, “65 percent felt ‘tremendously annoyed’ about rude salespeople. And 56 percent felt that way about having to take multiple phone steps to reach the right place.” Would a mystery shopper reveal the same problems in your retail business? Members of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) are enthusiastic about studies like the Consumer Report and American Express survey because it demonstrates the requirement that businesses pay close attention to the level of service they deliver to their customers if they are to be successful. According to MSPA President, Lynn Saladini, in response to American Express’ recent study, “Mystery shopping enables businesses to measure the extent to which they are delivering on their brand promises through the customer experience and to identify and correct deficiencies. Using the statistics from the study, you can calculate that two otherwise identical businesses would have very different revenue pictures if one had excellent customer service and one did not. If the one lacking in excellent service was a $10 million dollar business, its identical competitor could have revenues of $10.93 million.” Time is not money, customers are money, and your customer service could be the key to opening their wallets.