April 06, 2021 /
Comments Off on We forget that thermometers don’t cure anything

We forget that thermometers don’t cure anything

Thermometer to take temperature

You wake up in the morning feeling slightly off; what’s wrong? You have a cup of coffee and try to shake it off, but it doesn’t leave you.

What do you do?

What you don’t do is reach for every pill and syrup in your medicine cabinet. Of course, that would be stupid.

So you whack a thermometer in your mouth and notice you’ve got a slightly elevated temperature.

So the next thing you probably do is go to the doctor; the doctor asks some questions, does a few more diagnostics, and then tells you you’ve got an infection.

The doctor then prescribes a particular antibiotic for the infection. You take the tablets and slowly recover.

There is a clear business parallel.

At first sight of a problem, many businesses will grab every tool they have available. They’ll do some extra training, advertising, staff motivation, new reporting, and any other thing they can get their hands on. It’s the equivalent of reaching into the medicine cabinet and popping a bunch of pills you “think” will work.

Customer surveys, focus groups, and market research are the business’s thermometers from a customer service or sales perspective. They take a quick temperature check of the organisation.

However, the business temperature tools can’t tell you what the problem is, and, like a thermometer, these tools can’t fix the problem.

Tools such as operational audits, Mystery Shopping and external consultants act more like the diagnostic doctor. You don’t see the doctor every day, but when you visit the doctor, they delve deep, prod and diagnose the problem. You don’t need to do a mystery shop every day any more than you need to see a doctor every day. Find the problem, then do your maintenance.

Management then comes in as the medicine. Management fixes the specific problem identified by the diagnostic, detected by the thermometer. Sometimes the pill has nasty after effects, but there’s a net good.

To wrap up the analogy. Not all pills are nasty or have to fix a problem. The doctor could just as quickly prescribe a vitamin for good general (preventative) health.

February 20, 2020 /
Comments Off on Don’t be so warm. Sell.

Don’t be so warm. Sell.

Here are the real mystery shop results from a chain of fitness centres.

If you asked the prospective customer what they thought of the service, they’d say. Awesome.

100% of people received warm service.


62.5% of people were NOT invited to take up a paid membership.

Image  of table showing 62.5% closing rates

They are not closing.

What’s the good of giving ‘nice’ service if you don’t sell.

Measure what’s important, not what’s cheap and easy.

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.

October 06, 2016 /
Comments Off on Episode #19 Customer Service is overrated

Episode #19 Customer Service is overrated

Guess what. Customer service is NOT necessarily the most important driver of sales.

That might sound strange coming from someone running a Mystery Shopping company, but I see it time and time again. Companies focusing on the wrong things.

Sure service is important, but it’s also important to ensure that:

1) your products are on the shelves
2) the promotions are correctly displayed, and
3) that the product is recommended.

Our research shows that on average there are 53 item categories missing in a single big box grocery store.

We’ve also found that on average there are 13 categories missing from the dairy section alone.

As for recommendations, we recently did a study for a manufacturer distributing in a hardware chain, and found that their product was first recommended 31% of the time. Sounds OK, except they only have one competitor.

For complex products, consumers will still lean heavily on the recommendation.

If the product is not there, or not recommended, you’ve lost before you start.

Ask the right questions and discover the truth.

October 20, 2015 /
Comments Off on Don’t do this in surveys

Don’t do this in surveys

I know I know, everyone wants feedback. But don’t do it like this.

Keep in mind, this was sent to me as a customer, not a prospect.

It’s OK to send marketing messages with “Hi there” but not when you want something from a customer, the least you can do is to pretend to personalise it.

If possible, include something unique about the customer, even if it’s their suburb or company name. “Hey we are surveying people in Bondi to see what they think”. Any connection will create more affinity.

I know your product team is not “eagerly awaiting” my specific response. I know it’s an email blast. Don’t pretend.

“Thanks for participating” is too suggestive. Maybe say something simple like Regards, or Cheers, or Best. Don’t get fancy or suggestive.

The call to action is clear, but keep in mind it’s the only thing people really see. All they see is two words saying “Take Survey”.

Test running it with a simple link and see which performs better. Try even different colours.

Test test test different creatives. Yes you should also test surveys.

Be clear about why you want the data. Is it just feedback? Feedback is too broad. How many questions?

Consider explaining the questions like this:

“We have 3 questions about your general satisfaction”
“We have 3 questions about our xxx service”
“We have 3 questions about how you use the product”
“We have 3 questions about pricing”
“We have 3 questions about packaging”

You get the gist.

Be genuine, be specific, and tell me why.