July 30, 2020 /
Comments Off on How to improve a 10/10 review

How to improve a 10/10 review

Certain things work certain ways.

When you get on a plane (remember that?) you expect a safety briefing, the expected timing of the trolley cart, and precise announcements. It’s just the way it works.

The same with hotels and AirBnB’s. You expect the bathroom to have tissues and soap.

Here’s the anatomy of a private review of an AirBnB in the Southern Highlands of NSW Australia. I’ve avoided personal preferences, and none of these things were enough to detract from the 10/10 review. The place was (and is) amazing.

This is one of the best AirBnB’s I’ve stayed at, yet it too had room to improve.

First impressions were awesome

Fantastic communication with the owner over a few days. Instructions were clear, and they even suggested a shortcut which is better than Google maps.

The place itself is stunning, private, and gives a wow factor when you walk in.

They even had a detailed compendium highlighting the hidden treasures of the apartment.

Picture of food in front of a fireplace

But the devil is in the details

It was pouring rain and windy when I checked in. Rain exposes things.

The Entrances

A soaked front door mat – most of us respect other people’s property but I couldn’t avoid bringing wet shoes into the studio apartment. Another doormat inside the door would fix that.

The back door had no doormat. Again, wet shoes were dragged into the apartment.

The back door had no awning over the nice french doors, so there was no space between inside and outside.


Very well equipped but no salad tongs.

Noisy fridge

No table mats – we didn’t want to mark the table with hot plates.

The bed

Squeaky. Enough said.


Complicated TV.

Complicated taps – took a while to work out how to get hot water.

Fireplace – yes it had one and it was pre-loaded (nice touch) but it didn’t have instructions on how to control airflow.

The stove exhaust fan just recirculated the air back into the apartment, without external exhaust.


No tissues

No powerpoint

Am I being picky?

There is always room for improvement. If elite athletes keep refining their game, so can a 10/10 AirBnB.

The point is that we can also improve and I’d always suggest an independent set of eyes to make things better.

July 28, 2020 /
Comments Off on Scary hygiene statistics

Scary hygiene statistics

Retailers are trying to do the right thing by providing hand sanitiser stations. But consumers seem oblivious.

Only 17% of people in the COVID-19 world are sanitising.

We’ll be releasing more details of our 2,521 observations in the coming week. Brands (Australian) observed were Bunnings, Coles, Chemist Warehouse, Kmart, and Officeworks. The brands are trying to do the right thing. But consumers are not.

We also look at whether staff were directing traffic to sanitise, what effect that has, and the effect of herd mentality (not in the immunisation sense).

Scary statistics.

Let those who have not sinned cast the first stone.

June 12, 2020 /
Comments Off on How confident are COVID consumers?

How confident are COVID consumers?

It’s one thing to be “coming out of restrictions”, it’s another thing for customers to ‘want’ to be spending money.

Will there be a rush to malls?
Will there be a rush to other public places?

We surveyed 670 consumers and found they are more skittish than you’d think.

Graph showing COVID-19 effect on consumer confidence showing 63% of consumers are not confident in public spaces.

If you want the customers, make them feel safe.

  • Make purchases quick
  • Go over the top with prominent safety features
  • Train your staff practice safety
  • Monitor your CovidSafe practices

We’re starting mystery shopping of these practices all over Australia and look forward to sharing the results.

May 28, 2020 /
Comments Off on Confidence in crowded places

Confidence in crowded places

It’s one thing to be “coming out of restrictions”, it’s another thing for customers to ‘want’ to be spending money.

Will there be a rush to malls?

Will there be a rush to other public places?

We surveyed 670 consumers and found they are more skittish than you’d think.

If you want the customers, make them feel safe.

Make purchases speedy.

Go over the top with prominent safety features

Train your staff practice safety

Monitor your CovidSafe practices.

We’re starting mystery shopping of these practices all over Australia and look forward to sharing the results.

May 21, 2020 /
Comments Off on Press Release COVID Sentiment

Press Release COVID Sentiment

For release 12:00

Date: 21 May 2020

Secret Consumer COVID Shopping Habits

What consumers really think about our new world.

Wollongong (NSW) – 20 May 2020:   Service Integrity, a leading mystery shopping and research company, today published COVID-19 nationwide retail survey results. The study was conducted to answer the questions many retailers are asking about new world buying behaviours.  

Service Integrity employs over 30,000 mystery shoppers throughout Australia and has worked with Australia’s largest retail brands since 2003.

How have buying habits changed?

Of the 680 respondents, only 18% of people said COVID-19 would NOT affect their buying habits but 41% said the changes would be at significant or change their habits completely. The results are similar for men and women, but 29% of young people (18-25) believe their buying habits will change completely, whereas only 12% of the 50+ group believe their buying habits will change completely.

Are people confident in crowded locations?

62% of people are not confident in crowded locations. There is a significant difference between men and women, 55% of men are not confident whereas 65% of women are not comfortable in crowded locations. The least confident people are those in states where COVID flareups have occurred with 89% of Tasmanians and 67% of Victorians not confident but only 54% of people in W.A. lacking confidence in crowded spaces.

The big spenders have gone online

Lack of confidence and restrictions has changed our online buying habits significantly. 36% of people have diverted some spending to online. The move is most pronounced for people earning over $150,000 per year where 46% of respondents have diverted to online. Again, the states with the COVID-19 flareups have the biggest diversion to online with 44% of Tasmanians and 41% of Victorians diverting online, but only 18% of South Australians and 29% of West Australians diverting online.

Where to in the future?

Overall, 37% of people will now shop more online with 52% of those earning over $150,000 per year and only 33% of those earning under $50,000 per year increasing online spend. Unsurprisingly, 64% of those under 25 years of age will increase their online spending but 30% of the over 50s choosing to do so.

“A 30% increase in online spending is a massive move in shopping habits” Steven Di Pietro Director Service Integrity Mystery Shopping.


What does this mean?

The impact on future retailing is seismic. Across all sectors the change will affect at least 30% of people, whether it be by age, income, gender or even location. Most importantly, if retailers want to maintain their retail stores against this force, they must give consumers confidence that public places will be safe.

What you do about it?

Retailers need to go over the top by showing they respect the customer’s concerns and safety. As the rules are being re-written, retailers need to also check that customers and staff are adhering to the new rules so they don’t destroy their brand, or worse still, make people sick. Retailers must do more than just issue a policy, they must monitor relentlessly using tools such as COVID Audits and Mystery Shops.

For more information:

Steven Di Pietro

Service Integrity Research and Mystery Shopping




May 21, 2020 /
Comments Off on Why did retail numbers have an 18% COVID drop?

Why did retail numbers have an 18% COVID drop?

Why did Australian retail sales drop 18% in March?

The pantry peak and toilet paper peaks have passed.

There’s not much left to buy. But there’s something else going on. There’s a total lack of confidence.

As I described to John Stanley on radio 2GB (below), our research shows that 64% of Australians are nervous about visiting crowded spaces.

Those states with the most COVID cases have the lowest confidence.

For example, 89% of Tasmanians (where there was a significant outbreak) are not confident in public places (stores).

Where are they going? Online.

37% of people will now shop more online due to COVID and it’s more pronounced with big spenders.

Those earning over $150K p.a. are now 52% more likely to spend more online.

How do you win back confidence?

Yes you need good processes, but if you have a store, you need to ensure you are operationally COVIFSafe. Customers will visit if they feel safe, that means following processes.

Our mystery shopping work has never been more important.

Catch the radio interview below.

May 12, 2020 /
Comments Off on The latest State COVID rules for Australia

The latest State COVID rules for Australia

Person holding soapUpdated May 12, 2020

How do you know if your stores are complying with good COVIC-19 hygiene practices? No-one want to break the rules, no-one wants people to get sick and EVERYONE wants customers to feel confident in their stores.

The new Australian Retail trading rules.

NSW – From 15 May

Cafes, restaurants and retailers – 10 pax


QLD – 16 May

10 pax in bricks-and-mortar locations

SA – 11 May

Alcohol-free outdoor dining at cafes and restaurants.

WA – 18 May

Cafes and restaurants – 20 Pax
1 person/sqm and sanitiser required.

TAS – 18 May

Cafes, restaurants and retailers – 10 pax

NT – 15 May

Reopening of restaurants, cafes and bars – provided bar-goers purchase food.
2 Hour limit on indoor activities – business require safety plan to ensure good hygiene.

Are you ready? Book a one-on-one if you want to know how to protect your operations.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
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.

January 29, 2020 /
Comments Off on Shuddup and take my money

Shuddup and take my money

Imagine this. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m riding along the coast with some great buddies. One of them casually mentions a great café he visited with his wife the previous weekend.

It’s got outdoor seating in the car park of an old timber mill with the café located in an old shipping container. In the timber mill there is a florist, Potter, and other quirky stores.

“Sounds perfect!” I said.

Cafe in shipping container

I took my wife there, and it was everything it was pumped up to be. On top of everything, the food was fantastic. 

The owner/chef was also very accommodating of my dietary pickiness.

I asked for a Rueben sandwich without bread. Hey, at least I didn’t ask for a decaf soy latte.

I wrote a good Trip Advisor review and decided to take my cycling friends. I mentioned this to the owner as I left and he beamed a big smile.

“I’d love to have you all come by” he said unsurprisingly.

Though the café is slightly out of our way, the crew were more than happy to try somewhere new.

A couple of weeks later I rolled in with a dozen cycling friends. Our typical breakfast stop involves a big feed and at least two rounds of coffee.

Group sitting at coffee shop

I had a chat with the owner as we entered to ensure he remembered me.

“Of course I do, and thanks for the TripAdvisor review man!”

I didn’t expect streamers like the ones thrown as people left on ships after World War II, but I was expecting a little more acknowledgement.

The crew loved the place and the breakfast, although the coffee was a little ordinary. But here’s the problem. 

The café is relatively new. If you get the opportunity to get potentially 12 ravenous guests come to your cafe every week, you might make a little special effort.

Here are some simple steps the café owner could have taken to grab the market.

Acknowledge the entrance.

Make a big deal about a new group of people coming into the cafe for the first time. Make them feel welcome and appreciated.

Check on the table

Get someone to come to the table regularly to make sure that everything is okay. But get that person to come and have a real and engaging conversation. Not just a throwaway line like “everything ok?”

Clear the table

The group ordered a round of coffees before breakfast. Come and clear the table so they have a clean environment upon which to enjoy their breakfast.

Make more money

Nowadays, café owners have a portable point of sale machine. Get someone to walk to the table after breakfast and ask if anyone would like an extra coffee. Although the café is walk-up service they would sell coffees as they clear the breakfast plates. It’s literally money being left on the table because most people will say:

”Oh, why not”.

You may even sell a small sweet desert.

Make it free.

If you don’t want to pester people with an upsell, consider giving away some free coffees especially for the first visit. Imagine if the owner walked up to the table and said:

“thanks very much for coming to the cafe, let me get a free coffee for anyone who is interested.”

I can’t imagine any situation in which that would be a bad idea. At worst, it might cost $.40 a coffee but it’s almost guarantees return purchases.

Business acumen and customer service

It’s not rocket science. The problem is that the owner is so obsessed with the food and its presentation that he’s lost sight of the human touch. 

Simple business acumen can get some of that money that is being left on the table, and the customers will be more than happy to give it to you.

Indeed, they will thank you for taking the money.

Business smart and customer service I’m not incompatible, in fact they feed each other.


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.

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