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Service Excellence Group Cautions About Mystery Shopping Scams

  May 05, 2014 in Blog by Marci Bikshorn

We would like to remind consumers about the Western Union Wire Transfer fake check scams that have been attached to the mystery shopping industry for several years.

Service Excellence Group, Inc. has become a victim of the Western Union Wire Transfer scam. This scam is targeting unsuspecting consumers for “Provisional Research Analyst Assignments.”

In this post, we are combining all of the information from the past few months. Many consumers have received checks in the mail along with a letter utilizing the Service Excellence Group logo, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association logo (MSPA), the Better Business logo (BBB), and the National Speaker Association logo (NSA) on their communication. The checks sent with the communication are fake. The scam artists take the names of reputable companies in an attempt to fool unsuspecting consumers into cashing these fake checks.

Always remember:

  • Service Excellence Group does not send cashier checks to independent contractors as payment for mystery shops or compliance engagements.
  • Service Excellence Group does not issue certified checks for independent contractors to use during engagements.
  • Western Union and Moneygram are not clients of Service Excellence Group.
  • As the Fakecheck.org website states, “There is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check, cashier’s check or money order and ask you to wire money in return.”
  • Be cautious of any job posting claiming to send you large sums of money for a mystery shopping assignment.  The average compensation for a standard mystery shopping assignment is $15.
  • Avoid completing any forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.  A reputable mystery shopping firm will capture your contact information via a company reporting platform.
  • Always review the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they match and if they lead you to a legitimate website.  If the link does link you to a legitimate website, send the company an email to confirm the legitimacy of the opportunity.

We have discovered that the scam artists are using the following names in their communication:

· Vincent Whitehead

· Edward Coldid

· Nicole Brey

It is inevitable that the scammers will continue to change names, so please remember, any check sent to you by anyone claiming to represent Service Excellence Group is a scam. None of these persons work for Service Excellence Group. These are made-up names used in official looking email messages, regular postal mail, and/or FedEx packages.

These scammers are creating email addresses using the Service Excellence Group name. They will then communicate with individuals using email addresses from public domains such as Yahoo, Gmail, MSN or AOL.

Persons interested in legitimate mystery shopping may visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website for information about ethical, legitimate mystery shopping companies. To register your interest to mystery shop for Service Excellence Group, Inc., please visit the Shopper’s Headquarters tab above for complete details.

If you have fallen victim to this scam, or if you have been contacted by any of these scammers, please file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC also offers information about mystery shopping and the Mystery Shopping Providers Association at this link: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0053-mystery-shopper-scams

Top Five Tips for Award Winning Customer Experiences in Fast Casual Dining Restaurants

  April 29, 2013 in Blog by Marci Bikshorn

As families move away from traditional home-based dining, fast casual or quick service restaurants need to be on top of their game and striving to hit “customer service home runs.”  Quality teams that deliver stellar customer experiences build business success. So what attributes and aspects of the service experience do managers and supervisors need to tout and reinforce in order to satisfy customers and ensure their return?

1. Positive Attitudes Breed Happy Guests

Attitude is everything. When a customer enters your restaurant they want to feel positive energy from your staff. Start out each customer engagement with a warm and caring welcome because regardless of how good the food is or how great the restaurant looks it is an exemplary employee attitude that can position your restaurant as the dining establishment of choice.

2. Simplify your Ordering Process

One way to turn first time customers into raging fans is to simplify the ordering process. Panera was one of the trend-setters in the “You Pick 2” concept.  Not only does it allow customers to quickly place their order, but it also shortens the time involved in processing an order. A well informed team plus an easy to read menu will also benefit from an operational perspective because customers can be quickly informed about menu selections.

With the surge of cell phones and mobile apps there has been an increase in carry-out ordering which takes the “human touch” out of the process. This means that when the customer does walk in the store the teams that ramp up the care factor and speed of service will shorten the wait time and improve the service experience.

3. Product Quality Must Rate a “10”

The pressure is on! Consumers have become increasingly interested in niche restaurants that specialize in specific foods such as made from scratch pizzas, cupcakes, yogurt, and sushi. Another emerging trend is the use of healthy and organic foods with limited trans fats, and less salt. No matter       how well you present and manage your restaurant, quality products are the backbone of any fast casual dining experience. Customers become brand loyalists when they can count on a quality meal.

4. Keep Your Restaurant Immaculate

Aside from keeping quality products coming out of your kitchen, maintaining a fresh and clean environment shows customers just how much you care about your restaurant and the proper production of the food you serve. When you keep your restaurant tidy and clean, you’re extending a natural invitation to current and potential customers that is hard for anyone to pass up. When customers know that their food is prepared in proper conditions they feel comfortable and are sure to return. Don’t skimp on any areas of the restaurant: clean your dining area, clean your bathrooms, clean your kitchen. Create cleaning routines for opening and closing, and make sure you clean as you go throughout the day.

5. Know Your Business!

Customers inevitably ask questions relating to any and all aspects of your restaurant, and your employees should be able to answer them with confidence and ease. Nothing can be more frustrating to customers than receiving vague, unclear answers when asking about the preparation process of the food they ordered. When you hire employees, it is a good idea to set up an orientation process that will ensure they know the ins and outs of the business. This orientation can also include information on the history of your restaurant and information about your brand. You can set standards and expectations and take any questions. It’s a good time for everyone to learn together and get to know one another. Your employees should be knowledgeable about the menu your establishment is providing— what ingredients are used, how dishes are cooked, possible allergens in each product—in order to properly and confidently answer any questions a customer might have. Hold mini-orientations or check-in meetings whenever a new product or promotion is in the works to prep your employees and make sure they can upsell.

To create a dynamite customer experience, you need to address the criteria listed above. When hiring, search for confident, cheerful candidates. Keep your establishment clean and stocked with quality products, and make sure to keep your employees informed about new products and promotions so that they can answer questions from customers. Keep up with the perception of your business by distributing customer surveys, and, if you’re really curious, work with a mystery shopping provider to ensure that your team is up to snuff.

What are some criteria you find important for any fast, casual dining establishments? Do any restaurant owners or employees have any input? Share in the comments section below!

Mystery Shopping vs. Customer Feedback

  March 26, 2013 in Blog by metonymymedia

While mystery shopping and customer surveys both provide a certain amount of feedback to your company, there is a difference in how the two operate and the functions they provide for your business.

Customer Surveys

Developing mass customer surveys enable you to reach out to the general population of your consumers and receive basic feedback. This allows you to see big-picture attitudes towards general issues like customer service, products, and overall experiences. For the most part, this kind of feedback provides customer sentiments that are relatively devoid of detail. While prompting customers with simple feedback requests is truly valuable, they cannot provide the detailed feedback you need regarding the specifics of your business.

Mystery Shoppers

Customer surveys or feedback may generate responses that address certain areas, leaving others at the wayside. When mystery shoppers enter your business, they can go through an extensive list of things you wish to seek information about. This takes feedback to another level as you inquire not only about customer service and product quality but also on other areas like store presentation, uniforms, branding, and even the general atmosphere of the business. For every business, your mission is to maintain exceptional customer experience and build your service delivery and culture. Bringing mystery shoppers into your business can provide more in-depth results, allowing you to really pinpoint areas for improvement.

Getting the Feedback You Need

It really should be no surprise that regular, everyday customers mostly provide feedback when their experience is disrupted by any negativity. For the most part, customers will not go out of their way to provide positive feedback, but they certainly will tell you if you’ve done something to upset them. While this is unfortunate, there are still ways to receive feedback about the positive things your company is doing day-to-day. This is another instance in which mystery shoppers can help you define not only the things your business can improve on, but the areas in which you are doing exceptionally well. These positive areas can provide you with ideas for marketing and branding.

Of course, you can get feedback many different ways, but if you’re planning on really evaluating your business’ operations through the eyes of a customer, sending mystery shoppers will allow you to do just that.

Mystery shopper companies help businesses understand customers’ experiences in the smartphone era

  June 27, 2012 in Blog, Brand & Market Research, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

We live in an ever-evolving business environment. Since the onset of the digital age, there have been changes occurring year after year for retailers everywhere, making it difficult at times to keep up.

One way the digital age has impacted U.S. commerce is by creating the so-called “Smartphone Class.”

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Turning Customer Satisfaction into Customer Loyalty

  June 13, 2012 in Blog, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

A company that consistently exceeds customer expectations understands that an award winning service culture creates customer loyalty. Grabbing and holding the attention of your customers requires an indescribable level of dedication. It begins by really listening to the needs of your customer, then executing a company-wide campaign that settles for nothing less than delighting them.  It involves going above and beyond through customer experience enhancement.

Let’s take a look at four different types of customer service and tips foreffective customer satisfaction measurement.

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Mystery Shopping Companies Aid Customer Retention Programs

  May 30, 2012 in Blog, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

With so many companies focusing on new customer acquisition, we sometimes tend to forget to put our best efforts toward retaining loyal shoppers through customer service. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 68% of customers leave because they are upset with the service they’ve received in-store. Services provided by mystery shopping companies can help you improve the overall customer experience, helping turn prospective and “sometimes” customers into “brand loyalists.” Let’s take a deeper look into the role of mystery shopping companies.

Help You Meet Goals

Mystery shopping services allow you to witness if you are successfully executing your processes and protocol and to understand how your customer’s perceive your service delivery strategies.

Increase Revenue

By focusing on retaining your current customers, instead of focusing all of your efforts on bringing in new consumers, you can increase revenue. In fact, you may not even realize when you’ve lost a loyal customer. Typically, when a customer is dissatisfied with a business, instead of complaining on the customer service line, they’ll tell a friend, portraying that brand in a bad light through word of mouth and never returning to the store. Services such as mystery shopping companies can identify what is and isn’t working with your current customer base.

Provide Objective & Tangible Feedback

With audio and video recordings, you can actually listen, watch and learn as mystery shoppers conduct their undercover work. These recordings give you tangible results that allow you and your team to gain internal performance insight.

Implementing mystery shopping into your customer experience management program can help you gain insight into your company and provide actionable feedback. Mystery shopping combined with a few other tactics can have an even bigger impact on your overall customer retention program. Here are a few solutions to consider.

Use Email Wisely

Consumers are constantly receiving emails from companies every day, informing them of their newest clothing line or promotion. This means you are in constant competition with the plethora of newsletters flooding their inbox.

●      Be memorable – create exciting and relevant content

●      Exclusivity – give consumers advice they can’t find elsewhere

●      Grab Attention - utilize a well written subject line

Focus on Inactive Accounts

Whether because of boredom, cost restraints or a lack of products, some consumers managed to forget about your brand. The best thing you can do for your company is find out what went wrong, what it will take to bring them back, and how to prevent this from happening in the future.

●      Interview – contact consumers directly via phone or survey and have a discussion

Perform Actionable Research

The best way to understand what customers want is to campaign for feedback. Mystery shopping services is only one of the many research tools available.

●      Experiment – try other solutions such as brand audits and customer feedback programs


Service Excellence Group is a customer experience measurement and solutions provider. Find out more about our services including mystery shopping, customer feedback, research and brand audits that can aid your current customer retention program.

Neiman Marcus Personalizes Technology for Improved Customer Satisfaction Management

  May 16, 2012 in Blog, Customer Experience Enhancement by Marci Bikshorn

In today’s competitive market, companies are beginning to develop more innovative ways to enhance the customer experience. Developing customer satisfaction management guidelines that consistently align with your vision and your customers’ expectations is necessary for sustainable success. Neiman Marcus Group Inc. is doing just that. In order to better their customers’ in-store experience, they are currently testing a new user-friendly social, local and mobile (SoLoMo) app that includes a specific interface for both customers and employees.

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4 Tips for Excellent Online Customer Experience Management

  May 02, 2012 in Blog, Customer Experience Reporting, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

In today’s digital world, customer experience no longer only exists in-store or through print advertisements. With the growing number of consumers using smart phones and engaging with brands’ social pages, providing your customers with impeccable online customer experience management has become just as important – both on your company website and your social media platforms. Here are four tips to help you succeed in customer service online.

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Delivering the Best Customer Experience in a Mobile Environment

  April 18, 2012 in Customer Experience Reporting, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

Recently, we’ve been seeing a shift toward a more digital, specifically mobile, environment in the world of consumers. An increasing number of consumers are using their phones or tablets in-store to check product information and prices. Because of this, you may need to reevaluate and update your current customer experience management program to stay up to date with the changes. Focusing on the mobile user experience, both in-store and out, is now an extremely large part of effective customer satisfaction management.

Let’s look at the research findings and how you can optimize for more effective customer experience management.


Pew Research Findings

According to a study conducted by Pew Research one month prior to and following Christmas, 35% of consumers actually purchased products they found using their mobile phones in-store, while 19% purchased products from an online retailer and 8% from a different retailer.

Consumers are using their mobile phones in-store and brands are beginning to take notice.


Target Delivering the Best Customer Experience via Mobile

When it comes to optimizing for the newly mobile environment, it may help to take a look at Target, a company who stumbled at first, but is now making waves in the digital realm.


Mobile Target: From Disaster to Success

Initially, Target created a banner ad campaign built for both mobile and desktop computers. However, when a user clicked on the mobile banner ad, they were directed to the Target website on their mobile phone. The problem wasn’t that it linked to the website – but that the website wasn’t optimized for a mobile-sized screen. It was the exact same website that would appear on the desktop computer, making the buttons difficult to read and click.

If you have an online presence like a website, company Facebook page or Twitter account, you are inadvertently involved in a mobile marketing campaign. Consumers are not only using mobile, but they are beginning to expect that every retailer website can be accessed via mobile phone.

Curious as to whether your mobile site is functioning correctly for mobile purposes? Try hiring a mystery shopping company that can deliver research with actionable results in terms of your mobile site. At Service Excellence Group, we offer mystery shopping services that allows you not only to gain insight into effective customer satisfaction management in-store, but via mobile devices as well.


Steps Toward Effective Customer Satisfaction Management for Mobile

As Target demonstrated, mobile is beginning to play a key role in your customer experience management initiatives. The good news is, there are steps you can take toward optimizing for the newly mobile environment.

Optimize: Optimizing your online store for mobile usage means to make it easier to use for consumers. Learn from Target’s mistake. Instead of just having your website open up in a tiny mobile-sized window, hire a digital agency to help design a mobile-friendly interface.

Test: Find out consumers’ thoughts. Digital agencies can help you review, analyze results and answer important questions like “Are people using my mobile site?” and “Which pages are they going to most?”. Another way of testing is to do simple surveys to determine consumers’ thoughts and hire mystery shoppers to test the experience firsthand.

The Holistic Approach to Improving Customer Service

  March 21, 2012 in Blog, Customer Experience Enhancement by Marci Bikshorn

While there are many approaches to building a successful brand, making strategic customer service decisions is imperative for a company’s image. Customer experience management programs and strategies play a large role in growing and retaining customers. However, when enacting customer acquisition and retention initiatives, it’s important to see the big picture.

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Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Benefits from Customer Experience Measurement Program

  March 07, 2012 in Blog, Case Studies, Customer Experience Reporting by Marci Bikshorn

If you’ve ever watched Undercover Boss, you may know the premise: CEOs of large corporations go undercover to engage at various levels of their company to experience a day in the life of their employees.

In a recent episode, President Rick Tigner of Jackson Wine Estates in Santa Rosa, California, went undercover as ‘Jake’ and got to know a few employees on a more personal level. Along the way, he was able to view first-hand how employees interacted with one another as well as how they interacted with customers.

The premise of Undercover Boss is similar to the services offered by customer experience measurement and solutions providers.  Mystery shopping is a powerful research tool that involves undercover shoppers that are positioned to listen objectively during every step of the customer experience, giving companies unique insight into their best practices.

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Back to the Basics: 4 Customer Experience Management Tips

  February 22, 2012 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Customer Experience Enhancement, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

There is no doubt that customer experience management is becoming more important than ever for companies as they settle into 2012. As the year begins to move forward, we challenge you to a new kind of resolution. Step back and take a hard look at everything your company is doing to exceed your customer’s expectations. Then, figure out a few areas that could use improvement.

Begin with the fundamentals. This is a good refresher for your employees, and a “must do” for new hires. After putting so much time and energy into product selection, pricing, marketing, advertising, and research, it’s easy to lose focus about the basics of customer experience management. Here are 4 basic customer service tips that can be utilized each day when interacting with your customers.

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An Excellent Example of Customer Experience Management: Zappos.com

  February 08, 2012 in Blog, Brand & Market Research, Case Studies, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

Zappos - Customer Experience Management

There is no end to the lengths that company Zappos.com will go to provide great customer service. In fact, its 2010 advertising campaign focused solely on how committed the company is to its customers. Where did this fantastic advertising idea come from? It developed out of the many ways that Zappos had been going above and beyond for its customers throughout the past year.

Last year, Zappos overnighted a free pair of shoes to a wedding where the best man had shown up without his shoes. In that same year, Zappos delivered a bouquet of flowers to a woman who ordered six different pairs of shoes because her feet had been damaged by medical treatment. It says heaps about a company that would go to such extreme measures to genuinely help a customer.

These examples are really what customer experience management is all about, going above and beyond for your customers. The reason Zappos succeeds may have just as much to do with its customer retention programs as its genuine compassion for consumers. Here are just a few of the reasons that customers remain loyal to Zappos.com:

1. Customer Service Training

Each new employee in the Las Vegas office has to participate in a four-week training program. No matter the position they now hold, there are no exceptions. A large focus of this initial training is on customer experience management.

After the four-week training period for all employees, there is a more specific three-week program for the call-takers. As you may have seen in the 2011 ad campaign, consulting and training really pays off when customers ask more difficult questions.

What you can do: Create a training program to allow all employees to understand the company’s stance on customer service. With all employees on the same page, everyone can be relied upon to talk face-to-face with customers during the busier holiday seasons.

2. Understanding Brand Image

Zappos has implemented many different layers to its communication and customer retention strategy due to an understanding of their brand image. Consumers think of Zappos as just a shoe store, although they sell many different items. Because Zappos realizes this is the current brand image, they choose to focus on marketing their one constant, customer service. Instead of only promoting goods and services, they choose to build a brand image around likeability.

What you can do: Use customer intelligence programs to better understand how consumers portray your brand. Brand research can be a useful tool as a small part of a complete customer retention program.

Service Excellence Group is a customer experience measurement and solutions provider. Through our innovative programs, we can offer intellectual and resourceful answers to give you a competitive edge with a better understanding of your brand image. Find out more about our customer experience management solutions.

3 ‘Magical’ Tips for Attaining Customer Experience Enhancement

  December 13, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Customer Experience Enhancement, Customer Experience Reporting by Marci Bikshorn

Magical Customer Experience EnhancementIn today’s competitive environment, it’s more important than ever to provide consumers with a positive and memorable experience to separate your business from your competitors. Due to advancements in technology and the way consumers are now interacting with brands, it’s becoming inevitable that they will start to form emotional connections and relationships with the brand or business as a whole and further continue to utilize their goods and services. The question then becomes, how can you improve your customers experience and develop these memorable encounters between the consumer and your brand? (more…)

Ford Uses Customer Feedback for Better Design

  December 06, 2011 in Blog, Brand & Market Research, Customer Experience Reporting, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

Customer Feedback Solutions

If you haven’t heard, Ford is planning to launch a new MyFord Touch system on 2013 models of the Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus and an update will be available for current owners of the 2011 and 2012 models. Ford recently revamped their system and came up with a solution that is faster and easier to use than the prior technology. New features include maps, voice recognition, compatibility with other devices and ebook support. This new system is much cleaner and simpler than competitive solutions – all thanks to Ford’s emphasis on the consumer.

The Benefits of Customer Feedback Management Services

Ford is a great example of a company listening to the voice of the consumer to create a better product. By implementing customer satisfaction programs, Ford was able to pinpoint the faults of the old technology and foster those specific improvements. In this case, that led to the use of a larger and more readable font size, bigger icons and fewer menus. Much can be gained from listening to your consumers. Here are two great benefits to employing customer feedback systems. (more…)

The Benefits of a Performance Management Program

  November 03, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

A Performance Management Program ensures an orderly course of action by which companies involve employees in improving their work related tasks in order to meet the organization’s goals.

Companies that value and follow a pre-determined course of action reap the benefits.  We encourage a 5 step process:

Step I: Prepare your team by setting expectations

Step II: Continuously observe performance

Step III: Cultivate your team’s ability to perform to the set standards

Step IV: Assess each team member’s performance with frequency

Step V: Reward for exceeding best practices (more…)

Performance Management. Monitor Your Customer Experience Training Effectively

  October 26, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

If you are looking for your next big strategic move the answer just might be to tighten the rope between tactical business objectives and day-to-day actions.  Effective customer experience training and mentoring combined with a method to observe, measure and track progress against best practices and pre-determined core company objectives will contribute to your accomplishments.  In addition, as your organization views the results of these observations, it provides an occasion to recognize each employee for their successes.  Obviously your employees want to be praised and recognized for outstanding performance. (more…)

Service Excellence Group, Inc. Alerts of a New Mystery Shopping Scam

  September 21, 2011 in Blog, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

Service Excellence Group, Inc. has become the victim of a new mystery shopping scam.  This scam is targeting unsuspecting consumers for mystery shopping projects.  The scam artists have used Service Excellence Group, Inc.’s reputable name in an attempt to trick consumers into disclosing their personal information in exchange for high paying “mystery shops.”  This is a scam.

These “scammers” have posted multiple advertisements on an on-line job board affiliated with a reputable news station.  They are adept at making these advertisements seem real.  They have stolen the identity of Service Excellence Group, Inc.’s company website and are claiming to be employees of the company.

The scammers are currently using the following names:

  • David Brian   Online Manager
  • Larry Williams

Tips to Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provides guidance and tips to help individuals to avoid becoming victims of employment schemes associated with mystery/secret shopping: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams

A few extra precautionary tips for your consideration:

  • Be cautious of any job posting claiming to send you large sums of money for a mystery shopping assignment.  The average compensation for a standard mystery shopping assignment is $15.
  • Avoid completing any forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.  A reputable mystery shopping firm will capture your contact information via a company platform.
  • Always review the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they match and if they lead you to a legitimate website.  If the link does link you to a legitimate website, send the company an email to confirm the legitimacy of the opportunity.
  • Be cautious of any mystery shopping opportunity that involves transferring funds via Western Union.
  • Reputable mystery shopping companies will not charge an application fee.
  • No legitimate mystery/secret shopper program will send payment in advance and ask the mystery shopper to send a portion of it back.
  • Steer clear of any company asking you to accept payment in advance and advise you to send a portion of the payment to another mystery shopper.


There are reputable mystery shopping companies with legitimate mystery shopping opportunities for interested consumers.  For information on how to get started as a mystery shopper or to find legitimate mystery shopping opportunities, visit the Shopper Headquarters page on our web site or The Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s (MSPA) website.

On-line Reviews Tip the Scales in Your Evaluation of Customer Service. Fact or Fallacy?

  September 07, 2011 in Audits, Blog, Customer Experience Reporting, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

Controversy abounds in the realities of on-line customer sentiment.  Sizeable numbers of customers are looking at online reviews and these evaluations in customer service and product selection have a considerable impact on buying decisions.  Is it possible to determine if reviews are authentic or forged? (more…)

Going with a Pro – Market Research Consultants

  July 21, 2011 in Blog, Brand & Market Research by Marci Bikshorn

Market research consultants can prove to be advantageous to a business seeking ways to stay ahead of their competitors, and when done right, can lead too more successful and forward-thinking endeavors. One solid way to assure that you are getting the most out of your actions is to hire a market research agency that has the tools and expertise necessary to provide you with essential and beneficial information. Here are just a few reasons why you should invest in a market research program. (more…)

Ten Reasons For a Mystery Shopping Service

  July 14, 2011 in Blog, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

Every business possesses its own distinctive array of goods and services and has an idea of how to sell those to the consumer. However, there is one truth with which everyone can agree. It’s crucial to keep the customer happy. Here are ten great reasons to invest in a mystery shopping service to improve the unique customer services of your business. (more…)

How to Use Client Satisfaction Surveys to Inspire Customer Delight

  June 02, 2011 in Customer Experience Reporting, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

Are you delighting your customers? In today’s economy, your consumers are watching their every dollar and their decision on where to spend that dollar is looming. This means your customer retention strategy should go beyond simply satisfying your customers. – To enhance the brand loyalty factor you  , you must ultimately delight them.

Think about some of the most popular brands in the world: Apple, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney. What to do all of these brands have in common? They know what pleases their customers and they consistently seek to not only provide what their customers want, but to give their customers goods and services that they can get excited about. And, the delivery of these goods and services is with the focus on the client, not the company. (more…)

Why Should Your Company Implement a Mystery Shopping Program? Survey Says….

  May 19, 2011 in Blog, Brand & Market Research, Customer Experience Reporting, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

If there is a common denominator shared by all organizations –financial, retail, service, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality – it is the monumental need for extraordinary customer service.

It is tough to think of a business type that doesn’t exist by its attention to customer service.

Offering extraordinary customer service requires modifying behaviors.  Modifying behaviors requires coaching, persistence, accountability, feedback and practice.

The findings of The American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer presents evidence, benefits and the reasons why your company should implement a mystery shopping program. (more…)

Looking for a Reputable Mystery Shopping Company?

  May 05, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

When it comes to choosing a Mystery Shopping Company, look beyond the promises and find out the value the organization and their services can offer your team.

Does the Mystery Shopping Company Present a Successful Track Record?

Seek a provider that has experience and relationships with multiple organization types. Service Excellence Group has almost 18 years of experience working within a variety of industries which allows us to learn and share business acumen.  Stifling our partnerships by limiting our reach to only one industry would prohibit our internal growth and our knowledge of cutting edge practices.

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Top 5 Items To Consider In Your Customer Satisfaction Programs

  April 28, 2011 in Blog, Brand & Market Research, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

It’s no secret that effective communication is the key to great business. We’ve heard it a thousand times, but it’s true. Good communication, in its many forms, does wonders for productivity, morale, and efficiency within any company.

But are you being as effective of a communicator with your customers as you should be?

When it comes to first-class communication with customers, listening is perhaps the best thing you can do. And the best listeners are the ones who give their customers room to talk. That’s why targeted customer satisfaction programs, backed by solid customer satisfaction market research, are one of the best ways to increase communication with your customers.

When it comes to customer satisfaction programs, it’s best to think of them as conversations. Here are the top 5 items to think about when giving your customers room to use their voice. (more…)

How To Choose Your Market Research Consultant

  April 21, 2011 in Brand & Market Research, Consulting & Training by Marci Bikshorn

How To Choose Your Market Research ConsultantOf all the qualities and best practices that help turn good businesses into great ones, market research analysis is perhaps the trickiest. It’s also the most frequently overlooked. We’ve already seen how important an effective market research consultant is, but how do you go about finding one?

In a lot of ways, finding a good market research consultant can be like shopping for a good pair of jeans—on the surface they may all look very similar, but finding the perfect fit takes a little scrutiny, a little familiarity with yourself, and sometimes a little magic. (more…)

Mystery Shopping Companies – Maximizing Resources, Plain and Simple

  March 31, 2011 in Blog, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

It’s funny how some things only occur to you after 20 years of day-to-day meditation on a specific industry or topic., but that’s what keeps things interesting for me after all of this time.

The other day I was trying to pinpoint the reason why secret shopper companies have developed so much throughout the years. And it’s true: if there’s one thing we know in this industry it’s that so many things about our process works. Is it the sudden attention to detail we see from companies we work with? Is it our own methods? Our responsiveness to an ever-changing market landscape? Is it that customers can really tell a difference between their shopping experience before and after we’ve put all of our programs in place?

In fact, people ask me this quite often: Why does it work? What’s the real benefit? (more…)

Customer Retention Ideas: Do You Really Need a Customer Relations Department?

  March 24, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Customer Experience Reporting, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

Customer Retention Ideas - Customer FeedbackIn our business, our customers judge the service they receive by every person and program component in which they come in contact and that we offer to them.  Many years ago we entertained multiple customer retention ideas, one of which was having a Customer Relations Department – after all we evaluate the customer experience for our clients inside and out.  How can we fail to provide them with every avenue when it comes to resolution of any area in which we may fall short of their expectations?  After much thought and consideration, we realized that every person representing our company should execute the role of any Customer Relations Department.  (more…)

Retail Customer Service Training – From One Person To Another

  March 17, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

The performance of your team is vital to your company’s success. A full-service Customer Experience Measurement Program company should address your team’s needs in an initial consultation session. An initial consultation session with a mystery shopping company should include: (more…)

From Customer Service to Customer Experience Enhancement

  March 08, 2011 in Blog, Customer Experience Reporting, Measuring Total Customer Experience, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

Customer Experience Enhancement - Mystery ShoppingCustomer Service. Everyone is familiar with the term. For consumers, it’s that hard to define set of expectations everyone has when interacting with servers, sales professionals, and front line providers.

Customer Service. It’s what puts many people off most about “calling the 800 number,” it’s what puts many people off when they can’t find someone to ring up their purchase, it’s what puts many people off when their product and service questions aren’t answered.

But to every organization, large and small, it’s a way of life. And in a business world where only the fittest survive, customer service has long been an organization’s “bread and butter”.

Today we’ll see why, by itself, customer service is just not good enough anymore. We’ll see why it’s time to focus on customer experience enhancement. (more…)

3 Crucial Reasons Your Staff Needs Customer Experience Training

  March 03, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Customer Experience Reporting by Marci Bikshorn

Evaluation in customer service delivery happens every moment of every day. Thus, customer experience training is like a “lifeline” for any staff – it inspires people, it creates critical building blocks for high performance teamwork, all while reinforcing core values.

Obtaining new customers is a costly process, so retaining current customers is even more important. Customer service is at the heart of keeping customers satisfied. To really position a business or organization for long-term success, monitoring and training your employees to improve a customer’s experience is crucial.

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Customer Satisfaction = Happy Employees

  February 25, 2011 in Blog, Customer Experience Reporting, Customer Feedback, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

Hardly a client meeting goes by that someone doesn’t ask:

  • How can we improve upon employee loyalty and retention?
  • How can we surpass their expectations and satisfaction and reduce turnover?

Easy answer. Have happy employees!

Your company mantra should scream, “We must develop and ensure that we maintain satisfied employees.” (more…)

Customers Love Talking to People….Not Machines

  February 23, 2011 in Blog, Consulting & Training, Customer Feedback, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

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I find it to be increasingly frustrating when I contact a company with a service issue and am forced to talk to a machine.  Takes me back in time to the world of The Jetsons.

Growing up in an era where “rolling out the red carpet” every time for every customer, keeping client files of names, birthdays, sizes, past purchases, sending written thank you notes and personalized birthday greetings, and hand delivering purchases if a customer just didn’t have time to pick it up…to conducting business in 2011 by talking to a machine.  What’s wrong with this picture? Something about the customer experience just doesn’t feel right. (more…)

Do You Know These 5 Mystery Shopping FAQs?

  February 18, 2011 in Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

There are many great things about living in the 21st Century—cars that park themselves, DVRs, and thereal mystery shopping faq privilege (for most of us) of being able to say you’ve lived in two different millennia. Of course, living on the cusp of thefuture also comes with a few drawbacks, and if you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you know that one is finding the real FAQs on a multitude of topics.

So, to that end, here are 5 real mystery shopping FAQ to help you better understand this popular customer experience program: (more…)

Choosing Customer Service Consulting Firms: 6 Considerations

  February 04, 2011 in Blog, Measuring Total Customer Experience, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

If you’ve been looking in the right places, you’ve noticed some encouraging signs from the economy lately. For those of us with a pulse on the retail field, this past holiday season was a good one, perhaps better than we expected. Shoppers were back in stores, product was moving, and dollars were changing hands. And if you’re like many other on-the-ball retailers, you’re thinking that it’s time to invest back into your customer service training and time to ensure that your employees are delivering the best customer experience possible. You want your brand to stand out in the crowd, so you’ve decided to look into customer service consulting.

Good idea.

With the help of technology and innovation, customer service consulting firms have come a long way since their humble beginnings. Here are some things to consider when choosing the firm that’s best for you, and how to go about vetting a consulting firm you may be interested in: (more…)

With Shopping on the Rise, Mystery Shopping Companies Maximize Customer Satisfaction

  January 25, 2011 in Consulting & Training, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

If we learned anything this past holiday season, it’s that the American consumer—that most tried and true, gifts-seeking stalwart—long thought to be in hiding, has finally resurfaced.

Times have changed, the market has changed, but the American shopper is back. And while they may now be armed with a debit card rather than their American Express, what we do know is that they’re spending—and they’re spending in your stores.

That’s right: the American consumer has not turned its back on old Brick and Mortar. This is fantastic news if you’re a retailer, but what comes next? Are you really prepared to turn this new foot traffic into repeat business? (more…)

Go To Battle for Customers in 2011

  January 19, 2011 in Customer Experience Reporting, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?This is the year to make it your personal mission to go to battle for customer share. The critical nature of winning the customer retention war is higher than ever. When the customer experience is only adequate, customers are sprinting, not walking, to find competitive businesses to fulfill their needs. (more…)

Get Smart by Measuring Total Customer Experience

  November 29, 2010 in Blog, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

Let’s keep it simple.  There is really only one rule.  Customers DEFINE your service culture.  It really is that straightforward. It makes sense, right? Since it does, why do so many business owners and businesses deliver the experience as “they” believe it should be?  Why do they fail to measure the experience from their customers’ perspective? (more…)

Award Winning Customer Service Performers

  November 10, 2010 in Blog, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

Imagine if everyone in your company learned to think and act as an award winning customer service performer.   What if they acquired the skills, attitudes, traits and characteristics needed to drive the customer experience over the proverbial “edge,” then used their newfound skills to make your company more profitable?  Imagine the transformation that would take place and how it would improve your business. (more…)

Is the Act of Customer Service Losing its Punch?

  October 14, 2010 in Blog, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

Not according to the fifth annual Customer Experience Report, a Harris Interactive study sponsored by RightNow Technologies.  The study suggests that over 85% of consumers would pay more if they were guaranteed a better experience and 10% of these consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more.

Exceptional customer service experiences are no less important in today’s marketplace than at any other time.  In fact, the need for customer experience enhancement is at an all-time high.  Why?  Consumers have more choices, lower brand and product loyalty, and less discretionary income. (more…)

A Hotel “Nightmare”

  October 07, 2010 in Blog, Mystery Shopping by Marci Bikshorn

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Look at Your Business through the Eyes of Your Customers – How Clean is Clean Enough?

Do you know what your customers are seeing and thinking?  If not, you’re hurting your business and your bottom line.

At a recent stay in a well known hotel brand outside of Cleveland, I was shocked by the overall upkeep and care of the property.

After a much delayed flight, my colleague and I entered the up-to-date looking lobby area and had the “Oh thank goodness feeling this is going to be a pleasant place.”  We were greeted by the Front Desk Attendant with a smile and greeting.  After mentioning that due to a delayed flight we would welcome a snack and asked if there was anywhere in the hotel we could find one, the response received was that they did have some cookies available….a few hours ago…but could look forward to a full hot breakfast in the morning.

Our arrival was processed in the system and we were given our room keys.  I asked for directions to the elevator (rather than being told), left the lobby area and as we headed to the elevator it felt like we had entered a time warp. (more…)

Brand Research: Position Your Company to Cross Oceans While Your Competitors Are Just Crossing the Street

  September 29, 2010 in Blog, Brand & Market Research by Marci Bikshorn

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So many businesses are focused on Market Research because they are in search of information regarding the demand for their products and/or services or the potential business growth surrounding their sales opportunities.

Companies should also place an emphasis on Brand Research so they are armed with the knowledge to differentiate their brand in the customers’ mind.

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Are your Customers Boasting about You?

  September 20, 2010 in Blog, Consulting & Training by Marci Bikshorn

The shelves are stacked with books about customer service. Businesses tout their latest promises.  “The customer is always right.” “Just ask me. I can.”  “Our customers come first.” We know that exceptional customer service inspires loyalty, generates profits and results in growth.  Then why is service so poor?  All the promises and all the books present the appropriate point of view, yet the customer sits in waiting for the promises to become realities and for people to take action.

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Develop a Customer Retention Strategy by Pumping Up the “Promoters” & Dumping the “Disbelievers?”

  September 13, 2010 in Blog, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

Do you track your Consumers’ perceptions of your teams’ customer service delivery? Do you ask Consumers “How are we doing?” Measuring total customer experience and the service culture of your organization will keep it healthy.

Customers can be divided into 3 categories – “Promoters,” “Fence Riders,” and “Disbelievers.”

The “Promoters” are those customers that are loyal to your brand and spread the gospel to their friends to believe the same about your business. “Promoters” are the customers that preach about the excellence of your team, products, services and more. They are an extension of your advertising and support company growth. These are the customers that place you head and shoulders above the competition. Do you know why they believe in you? When you do…you can then begin to put additional customer retention strategies in place.

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Who Are Your Customers? What Are They Saying? And Are You Listening to Them?

  August 30, 2010 in Blog, Customer Feedback by Marci Bikshorn

Do you know your customers? Are you listening to all of them? Are you reaching all of them? If so, how?

What survey instruments and program tools are you using? How are your survey instruments designed? Are you gathering feedback from all customers? From all departments? For all products? Across all channels of distribution? From every customer touch point? At every stage of the customer lifecycle?

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Develop a Customer Retention Strategy by Creating World Class Service

  August 15, 2010 in Blog, Customer Feedback, Measuring Total Customer Experience by Marci Bikshorn

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Customers are the lifeblood of any organization. Without them…we have no meaning or purpose. Customers provide reason, vitality and growth. Serving them well requires a customer-focused culture and a steadfast effort toward improvement. The rewards from this unwavering diligence are fruitful: unflinching customer loyalty, sustainable growth and world class performance.

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