September 20, 2019 /
Comments Off on Do customers want automated customer service?

Do customers want automated customer service?

Automated customer service gets a bad wrap.

I often get asked in media interviews about the effects of artificial intelligence on customer service. So many people bemoan the seemingly soul-less interaction we have with chat bots online. But we we prefer them. And so do our customers.

What does the research show?

Our internal research at Service Integrity Mystery Shopping shows that:

  • Customers prefer knowledge 87% over presentation 13%
  • Customers prefer knowledge 59% over warm customer service 41%
  • Customer prefer knowledge 59% to cleanliness 41%

Ai in telecommunications

I recently heard a keynote by the head of artificial intelligence at Optus telecommunications at the Google Cloud summit in Sydney. The Optus executive said that customer net promoter scores (NPS) were higher when they interacted with artificial intelligence then when they interacted with humans.

Customer Service Secret Shopper

They also stated that artificial intelligence bots can now handle up to 75% of all enquiries.

This tells me it’s only getting better. We want knowledge above all else and artificial intelligence is the best tool to give us that. And it can give us the knowledge we need instantly. 

Bad nostalgia

Now that the technology is getting to the point where it is useful, we will NOT look back fondly on the days we had to wait 20 minutes or 2 hours on the phone to speak to a representative about a mobile phone issue. Will be able to login and get it dealt with within 10 seconds or a minute. 

I like shopping instantly online, rather than waiting for someone. I like not having to wait for someone to come fill my car up for me. I like not having to wait for a checkin persona at the airport.

Automated customer service improves service, not diminish it.

I don’t care that I’m dealing with the machine. I just want my question answered and I don’t want to wait.

Are you meeting this challenge with your customers or still reminiscing about the good old days – which were not so good.

(This begs the question about the role of people, but that’s a whole other topic)

September 12, 2019 /
Comments Off on How to avoid mystery shopping scams

How to avoid mystery shopping scams

If you are looking to be a mystery shopper, please beware of some of the scams.

Here’s how to protect yourself.

Time needed: 3 minutes.

How to avoid Mystery Shopping scams

  1. Don’t pay up-front

    You should never be asked to pay up front either to become a mystery shopper or before an assignment. This should be a red flag.

    In rare cases you may have to buy an expensive product as part of the assignment, but this is rare. Only do this – or send money – in the most extreme cases and only if you already have an established record with that company. But the default answer is – don’t!

  2. Use reputable companies

    What’s a reputable mystery shopping company?

    There are quite a few lists out there. Check out the company on the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. The association vets members and has strict ethical standards.

    Here’s an independent article about how mystery shopping works, this may also help.

  3. Start small

    If you are in doubt about a company, start with small jobs with little or no cash outlay and see if you get paid on time.

  4. Don’t cheaply supply banking details

    There should be an option for you to register ‘without’ providing your banking details. In other words, have a feel around the site, see what jobs are available, maybe even do a job, and THEN provide your details.

  5. Call the mystery shopping company

    Don’t be afraid to call a mystery shopping company. We love taking calls from new shoppers. It shows you’re keen and serious. It also allows you to get a feel for them.
    Ask then what types of jobs they have, where they have them, and when they pay for the jobs.

  6. Check their ABN

    Check that they have an Australian Business Number (obviously each country will have its own business registration). You can easily check here.

  7. Avoid money transfer assignments

    Assignments purporting to evaluate money transfers are very rare. Avoid them unless you are an experienced shopper with an established relationship with the mystery shopping company.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

We hope this helps.

September 09, 2019 /
Comments Off on The ultimate test of good customer service

The ultimate test of good customer service

The ultimate test of good service is to sell something.

My friend Kon goes into a shoe store to ask for some specific shoes only to find they are out of stock.

They frustrate him so he goes to the company’s other store 20 minutes away. He then tries another store of the same retailer. Still no luck. In an effort to ‘serve’ the customer, the store suggests he goes online – thus losing control of the sale.

To make matters worse, Kon hates buying shoes and clothing online. They tried to help him but didn’t.

The purpose of serving customers is not to be their friend.
The purpose of serving customers is not to be ‘nice’
The purpose of serving customers is to sell…. and
The purpose of the customer’s visit is to buy.

Don’t be confused, and don’t be scared to make this clear to staff.

(Cover image

August 30, 2019 /
Comments Off on How Uber Eats almost destroyed a small business

How Uber Eats almost destroyed a small business

We have to be careful of the shiny new toy.

My local cafe has started doing Uber Eats deliveries.

Good for them!

Well….. not so fast.

The wait times jumped to 20 minutes and then 40 minutes.

My big cycling group worth $600-$700 per month has slowly moved to another cafe (despite many second chances).

We are (were) loyal for a number of reasons.

There’s a certain vista we were used to. There’s the food. There’s the way the the Norfolk Pine tree casts shade in summer mornings. There’s the familiarity of where we sit.

People buying online have less reason to be loyal. The emotion tugs are absent, and the business can evaporate.

All it takes is one change to an Uber Eats algorithm and it’s gone. What do you do? The shiny new object is so tempting?

The problem is that the cafe isn’t clear on its purpose. As consumers, we can feel that they are only there to squeeze money out of it. Profit is a result and consumers see straight through it.

The last section of this video explains how a small business can use purpose to inform them of what to do. Chase Uber Eats? Chase loyal customers? Or both?

August 21, 2019 /
Comments Off on Are you making these small service mistakes?

Are you making these small service mistakes?

Software companies struggle with service. It’s so avoidable.

I use for some of my client survey needs. I usually pay about $70.00 per month, but this month they decided to try to charge me for the whole year upfront $1,020.00.

Luckily AMEX caught it and I stopped the payment.

I contacted their help through their website but got no response.

Then two days later I got an email saying my account would be suspended if I didn’t pay “tomorrow”. I depend on this software to serve my clients. It’s critical.

Here are all the things that are wrong with their service. Note, it’s a US company and I am not in the US.

  1. They swooped and threatened to close the account within one week of non-payment. So much for dispute resolution or payment problems.
  2. They didn’t respond to the initial request though their web page ticket system.
  3. It’s impossible to find tracking of help tickets online (in case an emailed resolution was missed).
  4. They only have a US toll free number. No other numbers.
  5. When you the only options are 1) Support (which you can only access if you pay for it), 2) Sales, and 3) Credit card payment. No option for Billing or general.
  6. If you try support and don’t have a special number they just hang up.
  7. The credit card option is only open mountain time (US) business hours.

This is what I do for a living and I try not to diss people online. This is an exception because I hope I can illustrate how easy it is to get the details wrong.

Call me SurveyGizmo. Call me.

August 20, 2019 /
Comments Off on How to stay top of mind

How to stay top of mind

How do you get to be top of mind in your industry?

If you are a #linkedin expert, will you be top of mind when someone needs LinkedIn help?

If you are a recruitment expert, are you the first thought of?

How do you get there?

Behavioural science points to a key principal called the “Mere Exposure Effect” as first described by psychologist Robert Zajonc in the 1960’s.

Given the voice of two options, you’ll take the one exposed to you most.

For example. A 2012 study of the Eurovision song contest showed that the number of times an audience saw a contestant corresponded to the votes received, regardless of talent.

Princeton University researchers inserted a subliminal message in 12 frames of a Simpsons episode with the word “Thirsty” and 12 frames of Coca-Cola. The subjects rated themselves 27% thirstier after watching the show.

How to be top of Mind

  1. Stand for something by being known for something (my struggle is being fragmented)
  2. Be consistent – Keep your look the same (I’m also working on this one e.g. black T-Shirts and orange thumbnails on videos)
  3. Think long term – The benefits will come over time, not today.

I want to be known for Mystery Shopping, Purpose, and Small Business Hacks. It’s way too much but the list has shrunk significantly.

August 19, 2019 /
Comments Off on How to avoid wasting ad money

How to avoid wasting ad money

Here are some scary real life statistics from a client who sells in the B2B space.

We have just conducted 40 Mystery Shop enquiries to a B2B software provider who sells business analytics.

It’s high-brow stuff at a high price, for which they spend a fortune on advertising.

Ad response time

13% of enquiries don’t get a call-back… ever!

33% don’t get a call within 2 business days.

The cost of these wasted leads should be added to the marketing acquisition cost.

How do you fix it?

3 steps.

  1. Define a well-communicated process.
  2. Train staff
  3. Track

Of course Mystery Shopping is still a big part of tracking. it still remains one of the few (only?) ways available to find the truth about marketing sales funnel mechanics.

Oh this couldn’t be you, I know, that’s what the client said before we started.

Though I know this client employs rocket scientists, it’s not rocket science.

August 09, 2019 /
Comments Off on The best word-of-mouth is?

The best word-of-mouth is?

We all know that word of mouth is critically important. Word-of-mouth can come from several sources including friends, acquaintances, or even a random comment on a social media post or review site.

But one type of word of mouth is more powerful than the others.

At Service Integrity, we do a lot of studies looking at the power of a staff member recommendation.

Imagine you have to buy some garden mulch at the hardware store.  Some are dearer than others, but overall they look about the same.

All the manufacturers are competing for shelf space and flashy packaging, but you still don’t know what to buy.

Then a staff member comes along and you ask,

“Which would you recommend for….?”

This response has a huge impact on buying behaviour.
If you look at the example of our real world client, we found that:

  • the dearer product (competitor) was 1st recommended 64% of the time and has a 56% market share. We now know that recommendation drives market share.
  • the cheaper product (theirs) was only 1st recommended 31% of the time and has a 32% market share.
Recommendation and Market Share

These recommendations are more important than others because they are at the point of sale and provided by someone seen as a product expert.It’s at this point that a lot of brands fall over with their network management.

Keep in mind, whatever your business, your recommendation has a lot of weight.

I recently recommended a service to a friend who had lots of choices, and she took the one I recommended, not the one she researched. 

Don’t underestimate the power of your words, nor the words of the people selling your brand.

August 07, 2019 /
Comments Off on Cross Selling is not an insult

Cross Selling is not an insult

What’s the purpose of shopping. No seriously.

To buy something. And the more value the better.

In my Mystery Shopping business we find that in some industries staff only close the sale 36% of the time. Even worse, they upsell as little as 12% of the time.

Why are staff so reticent?

Well they think it’s rude, un-Australian, Un-Singaporean, un [insert country].

I was just reminded by my staff that a few years ago we conducted a survey of 485 shoppers and asked the following:

How do you feel about up-selling where you are asked if you would like to buy a bigger version or complimentary product?

The answers were surprising!

Cross Selling Graph
  • 5% said they would be insulted
  • 14% are neutral
  • 56% accept it as part of retailing
  • 25% are glad to be given the opportunity

Don’t presume they don’t like it. They are there to buy, so let people buy. Close the sale.

August 04, 2019 /
Comments Off on Why is everyone standing around?

Why is everyone standing around?

I can’t understand the recruitment policies of department stores.

You’ve probably experience this yourself.

Sunday afternoon, hardly anyone around, and staff standing around behind the counter or just standing at attention in the middle of the floor. 

It is the staff member’s job to approach customers to welcome them and ask them what they are looking for.

In this difficult situation, my wife was walking around looking to spend as a treat.

There is money to be spent, having made the trip to the big city.

This is not an abnormal situation. We see it all the time in our mystery shopping business.

Selling on the floor is like selling on the phone. You have to approach people and be prepared to be rejected or brushed off. But that is the job.

The job is not to stack coathanger. 

We left empty handed. 

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