Friday COACHWORX Business Tip: Create a secret shopper network

While the 12-volt industry is competitive to a degree, the amount of cooperation between retailers and installers is incredible. There’s an understanding that raising the overall professionalism of the industry benefits everybody at the end of the day – not only by increasing the customer base but also by increasing the awareness of the products and services that are available.

Why not leverage that cooperation and your local 12-volt retail network to create a secret shopper program?

The idea is not to “gotcha” your employees, but to periodically test your frontline workers to see how they handle customers.

Sometimes it can be as simple as getting another retailer to make a phone call to test whether the phone is being answered properly and see how the sales staff answer a few tough questions. (Make sure to hide your number first by dialing *67 before calling). A few times a year somebody should actually walk into your store to test the waters.

The thing about secret shopper programs is that they’re not really supposed to be secret – even if they start out that way, they never stay that way for long. It’s always better to tell your staff that you’re participating in a secret shopper program so they know they can be tested at any time – it makes them try a bit harder and raise their games when dealing with the public.

To that end, it also makes sense to incentivize the program. Any employee who gets a top score from a secret shopper should get some kind of reward or recognition.

Setting up a Secret Shopper Program

The next time you attend a trade or training event in your area, see if you can arrange a meeting with half a dozen stores in your region. You can also work with your reps and distributors, or create a private, invite-only Facebook group for your region.

Bring a calendar, and draw up a schedule for calls and store visits. Because the staff at other stores might recognize you, you might need to get your employees to do the secret shopping.

If you have six stores in your group, expect to make 10 calls and 5 visits a year – two calls and one visit to each store. If you schedule things right, you should get a test call every five weeks or so, and a test visitor every 2.5 months. You can coordinate with the store that has you next in your rotation to make sure you’re not testing the same employee every single time.

Draw up a list of questions of scenarios that you feel are an accurate test of your workers – how they handle customers who try to do things themselves, for example, or are partial to a brand that you don’t carry. A few should inquiries should come from absolute beginners, while others can be from enthusiasts with an expert level of knowledge.

You also need to create scorecards.

Was the greeting friendly? Was the employee knowledgeable, or honest about their lack of knowledge? Was there any pressure to make a purchase? Did they make helpful suggestions? Did they go outside to look at your vehicle? What was your first impression of the store? Did you have to wait to speak to someone?

You’re probably wondering if you have time to do all of this, but these days with 82% of shoppers researching stores, products and services online before buying, you can’t afford not to provide the best customer service.

And if you’re serious about customer service, please join us for our next BUSINESSWORX demo. The software includes several apps that will help build your brand and improve customers service:

  • REVIEWORX is a text-based system that makes it easy to get more and better reviews, countering any negative reviews you might pick up over time
  • LOYALTWORX automatically sends thank-you notes and invitations to take a survey to customers who spend over a preset amount in your store. One user has over 130 surveys since last June, all of them containing crucial information about how customers found your store, how they rated your service, and how your staff members performed. This provides an opportunity to intercept unhappy customers and acknowledge employees who go above and beyond.
  • MAILWORX provides an easy way to educate your customers about the products and services you offer, as well as to build your brand recognition and professional standing
  • DASHWORX measures the impact of your marketing when it comes to bringing in new customers, as well as your customer retention rate over time.

To join our next webinar, visit https://businessworx.com/webinars. You will be added to an invitation list for our Wednesday and Thursday software demonstrations.

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