October 16, 2019 /
Comments Off on Everyone is in Customer Service

Everyone is in Customer Service

Yes! I.T. departments are in customer service.

Yes! Accounts departments are in customer service.

Yes! We are all in service.

Exposed by a simple problem

We recently had a problem doing a simple transaction uploading a Bank Payment file.

Screen shot of Banking error sowing how the forget about customer service

For some reason we were getting the weird error above.

The bookkeeper at my mystery shopping business had spent the morning trying, and I invested the whole afternoon.

I called the bank in sheer frustration. Maybe they could help me?

To my horror, I found out that the upload system had been down for weeks and might be down for another two weeks.


Everyone should have service foresight

No-one in the IT department had the foresight to put a small message on the page to say there was a problem, not spell out the workaround.

It would affect hundreds of business customers. It was a silent inconvenience.

The I.T. silo is in full isolation mode.

Everyone is in Customer Service. Everyone.

October 15, 2019 /
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 the ROI of Mystery Shopping 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

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 Mystery Shopping of 3,600%.

Yes 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.

October 02, 2019 /
Comments Off on Compliance is not a dirty word

Compliance is not a dirty word

Can employees really be trusted? We want to trust staff because compliance is a dirty word to many avant guard managers.

You get the behaviour you measure.

We all know that, but sometimes we dismiss it as old-school management.

Compliance is almost a dirty word.

Research by Dr Belinda Bateman of the University of Newcastle (UK) shows that people act more honestly when they subliminally think they are being watched.

Here’s her experiment. For 10 weeks she placed an image above and coffee/tea honesty box in the university faculty common room. She’d alternate the image between flowers and stylised eyes.

Drawn eyes compliance is not a dirty word

The results were stunning. Putting a drawn picture of eyes above an honesty box increased takings by 276%.


This has huge ramifications for theft, speeding and even adherence to work policy.

Just think of the crimes prevented by security cameras. Mystery Shopping is like that.

Sure our secret shoppers can identify specific things to be fixed, but the biggest benefit comes just from having a program. We find when clients stop shopping their complaints increase and their sales decrease (because staff are less likely to close the sale).

People change behaviour just by knowing they could be evaluated.

Everyone gets better service as a result. Compliance is not a dirty word.

October 01, 2019 /
Comments Off on Mystery Shopping Gyms

Mystery Shopping Gyms

Mystery Shopping gyms man and woman working out with heavy ropes.

Before starting a mystery shop for a client we like to scope the store to see how they operate. Here is an example mystery shopping gyms. It’s not in the normal questionnaire format of a mystery shop but it will give you an idea of what we look for.

The findings below don’t just apply to mystery shopping gyms but can equally apply to tyre stores, banks, or any consultative sales process.

This is a classic example of where the service was nice and the customer would probably score it 9 or 10/10. But there were some glaring errors which would lead to loss of sales. Surveys don’t tell the whole story.

A sales process is a guide, not a railway track.

Here’s what happens when a sale stays on the tracks more than it should.

What happens when sales stay on the tracks

Alternative video link here.

Contact Details

Phone call morning of Monday September 20, 2019

John answered the call in 8 rings. (Not bad but not great)

He mentioned [Brand] and his name.

He quickly arranged a booking for 2pm the same day. So far so good.


I was late for the appointment (around the corner).

Mary called me at 2pm precisely to ask if I was still coming

This was a pleasant and rare occurrence.


I entered the gym at 2:10pm.

External and interior were spotless.

Was greeted by three people standing around the reception
counter and introduced to everyone.

I was then invited to complete a registration form.


The registration form wasn’t well printed. The first few
characters down the left side were cut off.

Mary came over as I completed the form. She introduced
herself again and asked questions about how I found  and some other conversation starting questions.

We then started discussing my goals and diet (which happens
to be Keto).

She also pointed out her transformation photo on the wall
and talked about her own personal journey (she used to be a client).


After about 10 minutes of discussion Mary asked if I wanted
to “walk around”.

We walked up the stairs (she let me walk first) as we continued

At the top of the stairs she mentioned it was a small space
but more than adequate for how [Brand] operate.

We did not walk around the room. We stood in the middle and

After a while she asked if I wanted to sit down, so I sat on
what looked like a black plastic version on the pedestals used in Olympics
ceremonies. These were likely used for step training.

I was not shown any equipment and not shown the changerooms.

I was not told about opening hours (I had to ask).

The consultation

Mary talked about the 30 minute sessions with the PT twice a
week. She also had a glossy folded brochure mapping the journey over the 11

She didn’t refer to the brochure much and I never got to
hold it. Note: it would have been better to let me hold the brochure and have
her walk through the points relevant to me.

I mentioned that I’m enthusiastically Keto but she didn’t
mention it during the sale. I was turned off the gym offering because she
mentioned nutrition programs which seemed to not fit the way I want to eat.
There was no mention of adjusting the programs. The nutrition approach seemed canned
and inflexible

She also mentioned that before and after shots were part of the journey as I lost weight.

However, I said I don’t want to lose weight. My aim was to have resistance training.

So again, it seemed I was being fit into a formula, despite
being told everything was personalised.

The sale

Mary then walked through the pricing written on the back of
my registration form.

  • 11 weeks at $70 per session with an option of $56
    per session for a 6-month contract with use of the gym at any time.
  • $200 once off start-up fee which includes 4
    sessions. 2 of the sessions are consultative (body scan and nutrition).

She asked if I had any other questions and went quiet,
waiting for me to talk – perhaps part of the [Brand] sales process.

I asked a few questions and she asked if I wanted to
proceed. I said I was going to ‘fish around’ town a little more.

She reiterated that it’s great value for what you get.

She twice mentioned that she would follow-up in a couple of

I was given a business card but not given pricing and walked
away literally empty handed. Again it would have been useful to give me an
aspirational brochure or pricing.


I would not have bought (which is a shame because in real
life I am looking) because the diet and program seemed regimented and focused
on weight loss, despite me stating that was not the aim.

Visit ended 2:40pm and I never got a call back. Such a wasted opportunity.

Whether you are mystery shopping gyms or tyres, you need to stay on path but not stuck in the tracks.

Here’s a sneak peek at some reporting below.

Mystery Shopping reporting EKG
Mystery Shopping reporting Spider graph
Mystery Shopping reporting questionnaire analysis
September 26, 2019 /
Comments Off on Automated customer service can cause problems

Automated customer service can cause problems

You know the scenario, skip the queue and get automated customer service on a chat session.

But beware!

If you chat with Qantas online, you get reasonably quick responses and you can deal with the back and forwards in your own time.

Qantas 747 tail

All good.

However, you’re in trouble if the enquiry is anything but simple.

The call centre staff are local, have been trained over 6 months,
Here’s the problem with the chat staff:

  • they have less training
  • they don’t have discretion
  • they’re usually managing up to 6 customers at once
  • they can’t feel the customer

Giving good automated customer service means giving the chat staff the appropriate training (of course), then give them discretion, but importantly, give the customer a path to speak to someone if it goes pear-shaped.

Keep your service consistent. This is not a surprise to me. My mystery shopping business gets secret shoppers to test all customer contact points. Inconsistencies are not uncommon, but they really impact the customer.

Now, if you’re a Qantas customer, take it from me, call them and use their callback service. 

September 23, 2019 /
Comments Off on Don’t throw away half your sale leads

Don’t throw away half your sale leads

Imagine throwing away half of your leads?

Oh, I know you’d never do that.

Maybe you’re a small business that intimately knows everything that’s going on.

Perhaps you’re a big business with big processes.

I’ve heard it all. And yet, this is the reality I see way too often.

Behind the curtain of a Mystery Shop

Here’s a behind the curtain look at real sales audit mystery shopping data for big ticket B2B phone sales.

The scenario requires a secret shopper to make an initial call and a follow-up made by an expert.

The shopper calls, speaks to reception, then a meeting is made with a call consultant. The consultant (or someone) is then supposed to call back within a few days.

The process is very well spelt out and extremely detailed. Our job was to mystery shop the call centre and see how the strategy is being executed.

Here are the secret shopper results!

55% of calls go to voicemail (huge).

Mystery Shop calls going to voicemail

But 40% of those couldn’t leave a voicemail (22%/55%). True story.

24% of the callers had to wait 3-5 business days for a response and 9% never got a call back.

Secret shopper waiting for call back.

But if you ask the customers who got a call, they were reasonably satisfied because the staff were ‘nice’.

‘Nice’ doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’s where it gets horrendous.

There is supposed to be a followup call within a few business days of the main consultative call.

81% of people never got the follow-up call.

Mystery Shopping follow-up call

The company has very precise and detailed customer journey maps, but they are just not being followed. They had no idea.

Sales audit mystery shopping will help you find the other 50% of wasted marketing budget.

Get the data, don’t be fancy.

If you want to find mystery shopping companies in Australia, contact us here or search on the industry website.

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 https://t.co/oWoPaqi1MY?amp=1)

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?

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