Small things can add up to a happy, loyal customer...or lost business
by Mike Albert
Do you know how
much your customers are worth? More importantly, do your store
employees and servicemen know? If a family uses your cleaning and
maintenance services weekly and spends a $100 per month, they are
worth $24,000 to your company over the next 20 years. Losing just 10
customers can mean losing almost a quarter of a million dollars.
Since consumers do business where they feel good, the same is true
for customers who routinely pick up supplies and new products at
The bottom line is that a customer’s experience is made up of many
small things – small things that add up to a happy, loyal customer
or lost business. Because chains can no longer compete on price or
location alone, customer experience is the ultimate differentiator
and can mean millions to your bottom line.
It has long been known that it is much cheaper to keep existing
customers happy than to do the advertising necessary to find new
customers. Therefore, it makes sense to put a mystery shopping
program together that gathers information from the customer’s
perspective to ensure a customer’s experience is consistently
superior to your competitors. A good quality evaluation/mystery
shopping program can communicate to all employees the standards by
which your chain expects to operate and then measures and monitors
to be certain the standards are being met in all your locations or
with all your service visits.
Know How Your Product Is Being Delivered
If your company is the manufacturer of the pool supplies and
products, it is very important to know how your product is being
delivered. Many manufacturers have us create programs for them with
their resellers. It doesn’t make sense to spend big money on R&D,
advertising, packaging, and so forth, if you don’t know how the
product is being represented and handed off to the final consumer.
Whether you create a program internally or outsource to a company
like mine, there are certain elements I would recommend you include
in a high quality evaluation program.
Always communicate to all employees the standards you’ll be
measuring, up front. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ve
encountered many who want to shop their employees in order to catch
them doing something wrong. We’ve found that recognizing or even
rewarding positive behavior makes it happen more often and is a much
better approach. Many companies foster company pride and healthy
competitiveness between employees by sharing company averages with
individual scores and presenting year-end awards to those who
consistently score high on all parameters. Making a big deal over
the top performers goes a long way to communicate top-down
philosophy for superior service.
Build suggestive selling into your program. Yes, you can add
substantially to your bottom line just by retaining old customers
and winning over new ones with a good evaluation program. But,
adding suggestive selling to your evaluation program can produce
much higher gains. If your clerks routinely suggest that customers
try new products or in-store promotional items, the incremental
revenues can be enormous. Do you know what moving your suggestive
selling percentages from eight percent of the time to 98 percent of
the time companywide can mean in revenues? Do a quick analysis with
your average price for some shocking numbers.
Timely data and frequency are key to analyzing the company’s
performance. If you have a hundred evaluations of the execution of
your process you can be pretty sure that the resulting trend
analysis has accuracy. Shopping your stores frequently will ensure
accurate data that will provide the actionable data to make
decisions with confidence. Now, if you don’t have tens of thousands
of shoppers to choose from as we do, here’s a problem you may face.
Your employees can get to know your secret shoppers and perform
completely differently for them. I’ve heard very funny stories of
employees using a certain code over the store intercom to alert
employees that the shopper was in the building. So, you must use
different shoppers all the time to ensure accurate results.
Also, timely information is important. Immediately email evaluations
to your managers and employees, so the experience is still
top-of-mind and the evaluation makes more sense to your employee and
so that your manager is aware of any problem areas sooner.
Make Data Available
Make the program and its data available to all departments. Years
ago, operations departments were most interested in creating
evaluation programs to make sure all operating standards were being
met. They would evaluate things like the store’s cleanliness, the
staff ’s responsiveness, friendliness and professionalism – all, of
course, are great to know and monitor for good consumer experience.
over the past few years, we’ve seen companies get more bang out of
each evaluation by building in parameters that benefit every
Companies are now using the evaluations to monitor the execution and
effectiveness of their in-store marketing campaigns. You can create
the most brilliant campaign, but if it is not executed right or at
all, it won’t get the desired results. Evaluations are a great way
to follow up and follow through with your short and long term
in-store marketing promotions.
Also, be sure that HR is privy to all data, so they have employee
evaluation intelligence from the customer’s perspective. After all,
the customer’s opinion is what really counts since they bring in the
Measuring and monitoring performance and the delivery of service is
not a new concept. However, doing it right and consistently can mean
millions to your bottom line. People shop where they feel good, and
an effective quality evaluation program will ensure they feel good
Mike Albert- Founder Satisfaction Services, Inc. Customer Service Feedback Company - Speaks on Customer Service and Hospitality.
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