July 18, 2017 /
Comments Off on How customer service accidentally gets low priority

How customer service accidentally gets low priority

Everyone goes on about giving “great service”. But it still doesn’t have the profile of other job roles, especially at executive level.

Look at these job roles on Linkedin.

No mention of Customer Service. Scroll further.

Nope — further?

Nope — surely it’s in alphabetical order. Must be on the next screen right?

Again No.

Linkedin and so many other companies just don’t look at Customer Service or Customer Experience as a profession. Legal is, Arts and Design is, even Support is a role. But Customers? No room for them or the role.

Oh yeh sure, everyone serves the customer or someone who does right? Sure, but that’s a cop out which minimises the role by implying that “Oh yeh, everyone does a that (read — a bit of that)”. IF everyone does it, no one is responsible.

If you want staff to take service seriously, then make is a serious cross divisional role.

July 17, 2017 /
Comments Off on Case study — 2 reasons your website might be broken.

Case study — 2 reasons your website might be broken.

Case study — 2 reasons your website might be broken.

If your website works, how can it be broken? Simple, it pushes people away for two reasons: 1) Frustration, and 2) Fear

Here is a real example of www.join.me, a Webinar hosting software platform. We see this often in our website Mystery Shops, and in this case I’m a real life customer.

Here is a typical website enquiry as it might happen.

1. Does it look modern?

You might look at the home page and decide, yep, it’s worth more than a two second look. Pass step 1.

How much does it cost?

Straight to it, because you might be comparing other companies.

All good, I can see it says “Pricing”.

So far so good.

But now the wheels fall off.

If you have a technical question, like I had, you look for either a chat, or an email — especially if it’s not urgent.

Hmm, you might notice the main menu doesn’t have a Contact Us. So scroll to the bottom.

Ok — a little clumsy but we’re getting there.

And it takes you to another page with things missing.

No I don’t want to call, I want to email. It’s not that urgent.

Now keep in mind, I live in Australia, so this usually turns me off because of cost, and time zone issues. But — click and see where it goes.

There are a few problems here.

The pricing was quoted in Australian dollars (feels local), but there is no Australian phone number.

And who knows what the time is in the US and Canada? I won’t call.

But I persevere and click on “Click here for more phone numbers”

Frustration is in full swing.

Oh here we go, an Australian number.

I still don’t really want to call, but hey, I’ll try.

Notice the subtle mistake here? The company is LogMeIn. I was enquiring about something Join Me. It’s a little confusing, but most people wouldn’t notice.

It’s just plain lazy. Clearly I was diverted to another corporate website and they are trying to be efficient. But it looks different, and the name is different. Very sloppy branding at best.

And predictably, I get offerred with 4 call options and an American voice. Clearly it’s not local but pretends to be. Would be better to tell me it’s a local number diverting to the US. But hey, I’m still patient.

The 4 options are 4 product names. I don’t even know which one is the one I’m calling about. I know nothing about this company or their products.

I work out it’s option 3 and get a voice saying the office is closed and to call back in business hours (despite it being 3:30pm in Sydney).


Now the fear

Remember I said there are two factors driving sales away? Frustration (tick) and Fear.


Yes Fear. I’m scared that if I sign up for this company, this is the terrible service I’ll get. I’m not going to risk it.

Yes the website works. But no it doesn’t.

It’s hard to switch off when you do this for a living. Just sharing what a fresh pair of eyes can find. And I’ve only skimmed the surface. Enough freebies for joinme.com (or whatever they are called).

If you want fresh eyes on your website through Mystery Shopping, contact me here

July 14, 2017 /
Comments Off on The Future of Customer Service 14 July 2017

The Future of Customer Service 14 July 2017

1. The power of Mobile

Google have released research showing that 89% if people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive brand experience. More here

Implication: Mobile is everything. All the data is pointing the same direction. Overinvest.

2. Augmented Reality is 5 minutes away for retailers

Facebook (through Instagram) recently introduced face filters to let people add all manner of things on their face, like glasses.

The glasses are superimposed on your head and they move with your head, like in the video. Sure there are fun applications for kids, but imaging the application for retailers. More here Augmented reality is a short step from retail

Implication: Keep an eye out for opportunities to use other Augmented Reality applications. Practive the technologies to know them, or you miss out.

3. Live prompting for Sales staff using A.I.

Israeli startup gong.io is has “a real-time processor that is listening to and “reading” all the audio from interactions as they take place. Then it uses language processing and speech recognition to make suggestions on the fly to help steer the conversation. There is also a secondary analytical service that processes the call, along with many others, to parse the conversation and figure out what is going on later for more detailed training and reports.”

Imagine having a trainer in the ear of sales staff every minute of the day, at no cost.

More here

Implication: Live on-the-spot training is being redefined to be even more granular.

July 14, 2017 /
Comments Off on Augmented reality is a short step from retail

Augmented reality is a short step from retail

Facebook (through Instagram) recently introduced face filters to let people add all manner of things on their face, like glasses.

The glasses are superimposed on your head and they move with your head, like in the video.

Sure there are fun applications for kids, but imaging the application for retailers.

You could superimpose different colour shapes and shades for:

Plastic surgery
Hair styles
Hair colour
Spray tans
Dental work

The list goes on.

Go further, imagine your new car in your driveway.
Imagine a new lounge in your house.
Imagine a complete formal outfit.

Sure the technology is not quite at the commercial application level yet, but it will follow quickly, because that’s where the money is.

Snapchat did this recently with location filters. Shortly after introducing local filters for free, Snapchat started selling them. As with most free products, there is also a paid version which will give you more flexibility and power.

So, how do you stay on top on these technologies?

1) Use them
2) Look at the “What’s new” pages
3) Imagine your product in that space
4) Do a youtube search to see how you can use it (even if you’re a luddite)
5) Start with experimentation.

July 13, 2017 /
Comments Off on How Walmart use Virtual Reality for Training

How Walmart use Virtual Reality for Training

Walmart have started using Virtual Reality headsets to train staff on Customer Service. It’s also being used for new associates who have never experienced Black Friday, and for store managers to get virtual tours of other stores.

A lot of the VR applications I’ve seen focused on clumsy interactions with an avatar. This makes much more sense as a starting point. See the full article here.

June 07, 2017 /
Comments Off on Customer loyalty for free

Customer loyalty for free

There’s no need to over-complicate customer loyalty.

Often companies “expect” loyalty form customers, but don’t give it back in return.

Customer loyalty is a two way street.

Here’s a great example of how to provide loyalty for free.

Even if you think it’s a cliche example, then I’d challenge anyone to tell me how it’s a bad thing.

The only thing getting in the way of loyalty is laziness.

June 07, 2017 /
Comments Off on Selling Features and Benefits is right, and wrong

Selling Features and Benefits is right, and wrong

Don’t talk to customers about Features and Benefits.  It reverses the sales process.

In my Mystery Shopping business I often see customers asking questions about whether or not the staff members asked the customer about Features and Benefits.

Customers only care about what you can do for them – value.  When a staff member sells on ‘features’ first, they go into sales spiel mode, mechanically listing (or reading) a list of features, many of which are not relevant to the customer.

If your ‘features’ are not relevant, then customers don’t care. You would not sell a 4WD vehicle to someone on the basis of its off-road ability if the customer never intends to go off-road.  They may be interested in towing capacity rather than off road ability.

When we bought our last family car, my wife was interested in a seven seater with ample back legroom.  Nothing else mattered.

The first step is to understand what the customer wants.  Try this order instead.

  1. Determine what the customer wants (do more listening than talking),
  2. Describe the ‘benefits’ of your solution,
  3. Describe the specific features which provide the benefit.

Talk about the benefits (value) and use the features to validate what you said. Simple.

Features and Benefits are important, but in the right order.

May 05, 2017 /
Comments Off on A dumb or cynical question?

A dumb or cynical question?

When surveying customers, make sure you get the questioning right. Optus Telecom in Australia got it wrong.

Check out the question below.






How would I answer if I received terrible service?

“Has the use of [product] prevented you from…..”

If you got bad service, you would expect to answer Yes, because the use of the product has prevented you from…..

But they’ve slipped the Yes in as the positive response. A cynic might say this was intentionally written this way. But if you are that clever, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself.

Very confusing question and answers.

Easily fixed.

May 01, 2017 /
Comments Off on The ROI of Mystery Shopping

The ROI of Mystery Shopping

Although a store may spend $10,000 a month on rent, it seems incredulous that a $100 per month spend on mystery shopping (1% of the rent) needs to be justified with ROI. If salaries and running expenses are taken into account (roughly to equal the monthly rent), then $100 per month equates to 0.5% of the operating expense of a site.

However, if ROI needs to be justified, it can be done as follows. Note, the resultant ROI number is so high that it seems unbelievable. There are few (if any) investments that can return a 3,600% ROI.

Imagine a store with:

  • 5,000 people walking through per month
  • 80% of people buy
  • Average price of $60

The store also has the following statistics found from the mystery shops:

  • Greeting customers 68% of the time
  • Commitment to purchase is asked 32% of the time
  • Up-selling 34% of the time

Let’s do the math to calculate the ROI:

5,000 customers x 80% who buy x $60 = $240,000 sales per month.

Here’s what happens if the store increases each of the three mystery shopping categories by 10% and 10% of the customers now buy (e.g., customers who were asked for a commitment to purchase increases 10% from 32% to 42%, and conservatively, only 10% of that 10% who asked to commit to a purchase actually made a purchase).

3 categories x 10% x 10% = 3% increase in sales

Old sales of $240,000 is improved 3%, being $7,200 increase in sales.

If the mystery shop expense was $100 per month ($1,200 for one year) and it took 6 months to get the 10% improvement, then there are 6 months of the $7,200 increase in sales ($43,200), then there is a return of $43,200 for a $1,200 expense, an ROI of 3,600%.

There is perhaps no greater opportunity for an investment with 3,600% return. It’s an investment worthy of the front page of every newspaper, yet it remains hidden in plain view.

April 24, 2017 /
Comments Off on Why Measure?

Why Measure?

Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Extract from my book – Mystery Shopping Mastery

Time and time again I see companies trying to fix problems they have imagined while ignoring the problems that need fixing. Sure, management is an art and skill, but good measurement provides direction to apply that art and skill.

Hard skills are easy to measure, such as average sales, staff costs, and even foot traffic. But soft skills seem only to be measured anecdotally because anecdotes are easy. If executives ask their middle managers about customer service, they provide a sterilised view. If they ask the customers, they only get extreme views.

The only voices heard from customers are complaints from the disenfranchised or comments from raving fans. Sure, this information is important, but it’s equally important to get information about the “normal” experience. How do you serve the 99%?

The following example is a true-life story of how a simple measurement completely transformed a company’s strategy. Our client was a mortgage broking company selling loans into the retail market. The problem was that the advertising was wildly successful, but the advertisements were not being adequately converted to sales.

Their strategy was to employ older, more experienced mortgage bankers, and the advertising reflected their experience by suggesting customers “shop with experience.” The mystery shopping zoomed right in on the problem of poor conversions. Although customers were reacting positively to the “experience” angle in the advertising, the delivery by the mortgage brokers was very different. The mortgage brokers were selling based on price. This created a huge disconnect between what attracted the customer and what was being delivered.

The solution for the client was simple and difficult. Either change the strategy to reflect the current culture or change the culture to reflect the strategy. The company spent a fortune trying to improve sales tools, redefine the marketing, and even speed up computer systems. But all of that was wasted because the problem was simply that the sales people were doing something completely different to the strategy.

This is a common story. Management wastes money on misdirected sales and service training programs and fancy board level re-alignments. But, the problem is often as simple as the staff not executing the current strategy. And it might not be the fault of the front-line staff.

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