The most important aspect of managing a brand is keeping tabs on the various interactions that your customers have with it. No matter what industry you’re in, big or small, whether you sell a product or provide a service, just getting starting or 30 years in, have one location or 500 – consistently good customer experiences leads to growth through repeat business and referrals.
That begs the next question: What are the best strategies for measuring and monitoring all these various customer experiences? There are four main channels to go about seeing the full picture:
- Put yourself in their shoes (mystery shopping)
- Ask them directly for feedback (surveys)
- See what they’re saying to everyone else (social media/online reviews)
- Ensure your internal processes are being followed (field audits)
Each of these methods may be used individually to collect useful information for certain desired outcomes. However, combining them into a full ongoing brand management strategy allows for supreme confidence in decision-making and maximum return on investment. The truth is that your customers have different voices depending on who they are talking to and what they are being asked. If you don’t have a plan in place to capture all those voices, then you may be missing critical pieces of information. Here is how each tool is a piece to the overall puzzle.
This is where it all begins for us here at 360 Intel. By using a third-party to send in anonymous customers, the resulting stream of objective and truly authentic data reveals the specific parts of the customer experience that are meeting your expectations – or not. Organizations have been ‘shopping’ themselves for decades, looking to understand and evaluate all of the little details that enable them to be sure they are constantly putting their best foot forward. Mystery shopping allows organizations to determine if the standards of their brand are being upheld or not.
By far the most traditional and well-known form of customer experience management, survey data will give you the most real-time, subjective analysis of an interaction with a customer. While this feedback is extremely valuable because ‘the customer is always right’, there will inevitably be drastic inconsistency and bias from person to person depending on their background and past experiences. Comparing and contrasting the findings between surveys and mystery shopping helps to provide more clarity on how the details affect the customer’s overall experience, and vice-versa.
Brand Reputation Management
The dawn (and now evolution of) social media has recently brought another perspective into the fold. Whereas previously it was much more difficult to track the relative positivity or negativity with which customers would spread the word about their experience, now things are very easy. All they have to do is go online and post reviews to a myriad of websites with a range of visibility to others. 360 Intel is excited to provide our clients more control and analytics over this new paradigm. Our platform allows our clients to view, track and respond to these reviews all in one place. As we all know, people have the freedom to say anything they want online, and prospective customers are increasingly using these reviews as the basis to make their purchasing decisions. It is no longer an option for business leaders and brand managers to ignore this reality. However, this is just one piece of the customer experience management puzzle, and when combined with the other strategies mentioned above, they should all feed together to reduce the pressure of each.
Assuming that you have a set of standards and procedures in place for how your well-oiled machine should be running from an internal perspective, then you must have a mechanism (a checklist or series of them) for making sure that everything is good to go before any customer experience takes place. By compiling this information in the same location as your mystery shopping, survey and social media data, you can easily diagnose how your internal performance correlates with the end result for your customers. You simply can’t have one without the other – and since you are always evolving and changing to meet the needs of your customers, the process of pursuing perfection really never ends.
A mystery shopper program is the foundation to learn how your brand is delivering on its promise to customers. But a comprehensive program combining mystery shop data with brand reputation management, feedback surveys, and field audits is the most effective way to evaluate your customer experience and brand integrity. Check out our additional services for more information.