Marketing Outlook Forum

Shoppers’ Critique International is happy to announce that Paul Bell (National Sales Director) attended the 2014 Travel and Tourism Research Association’s Marketing Outlook Forum in Atlanta, GA. The aim of this forum was to get a global perspective on the industry by bringing together all manner of practitioners and researchers to look at the future of the industry.

As a leading network event for the travel and tourism industry, there were a number of high quality educational programs in addition to the great marketing forums. Many offices, airlines, hotels, and travel industry suppliers from the United States and Canada attended these events. “This was a very insightful event and I enjoyed the entire conference. The travel and tourism landscape is always changing and this was an opportunity for us at Shoppers’ Critique to gain insight from industry leaders.” said Bell.

Florida Attractions Foundation Golf Tournament

On October 10, 2014, Jake Dancy and Paul Bell of Shoppers’ Critique International participated in the 17th annual Florida Attractions Foundation Golf Tournament. This year’s amazing event was held at Kissimmee’s Falcon’s Fire Golf Club, with the focus on bringing together the top tourism industry leaders for a day of fun. “What a great event! We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with our partners at the FAA as well as our fellow FAA members”, said Jake Dancy. “It’s a good thing we weren’t evaluating our golf skills, otherwise we would have found a lot of room for improvement. We really enjoyed spending time with our colleagues and look forward to continuing to work together. We have developed deep relationships with the FAA and the membership and it’s always a special day when we can get together outside of the office,” said Paul Bell.

In addition to the tournament itself, there was also a silent auction where the benefits went to the Florida Attractions Foundation, a program that provides scholarships to students who are entering into hospitality and tourism related fields. “We were honored to participate in this special event, and equally pleased that proceeds from the silent auction go to this wonderful charity” said Jake Dancy.

Recognizing Problems in Your Restaurant

Restaurant owners have a lot on their plate. Not only do they have to worry about serving great food

to their customers, they have to make sure they are providing the best dining experience possible.

Restaurant patrons not only critique the food, but the service, staff, atmosphere and overall feeling they

get during their meal.

Owners of smaller restaurants may not always have control over all of the elements mentioned. If they

are the chef, they may not be able to keep up with the front of the house during a dinner rush or maybe

they haven’t found anyone to help with management. Critics or mystery shoppers can help a restaurant

owner pinpoint the problems, which need to be addressed in all areas of their business.

From the service side of the dining industry, it can seem as though people like to complain to get

something for free. With the recent increase in review writing that has become popular, everyone

can say what they feel. It is important to keep an eye on what your everyday customers say about

your restaurant and your food, but keep in mind some people talk because they can. People have their

own idea of a perfect meal. Don’t ever ignore a bad review or complaint, but realize you can’t please


The main complaints to be taken into consideration in this business are food preparation, plating

techniques, food handling, service provided by the wait staff and ticket times. If you receive consistent

complaints in any of these categories, it may be time to meet with your staff and address the problem.

Each group of workers in a restaurant must work together to create synergy in food preparation and

service. If the ticket times are slow, impatient guests will wait too long for their food or attention from

their server. In that case, it is hard to change a diner’s opinion of your restaurant. Sometimes, mediocre

food can be overcome by great service and a pleasant experience. Other times, your amazing food is

being overshadowed by rude or inattentive staff members.

It can be difficult to accept that things are going wrong with your business. Admitting you need help

takes acceptance and self confidence. It’s better to ask for assistance than to let your dream crumble

and be left with just your pride. If you see a decrease in sales or you need help getting out of a rut, a

mystery shopping company can help you sort out your biggest kinks. Criticism from the public allows

you to see what is wrong, but a mystery shop report enables you to fix the problem in private, instead

of issues being announced publicly. The mystery shopping company will assist you in putting together a

plan to pick up business and please your clientele.

Four Representatives of Shoppers’ Critique to Attend the 2014 CXE3 Conference

We are excited to announce that we will be sending four representatives to a customer experience conference in Mid-October that will be put on by MSPA-NA. Shoppers’ Critique is one of the charter members of the MSPA. We proud to see a strong representation of the association meeting in our home town.Customer Experience Conference

Event: MSPA CXE3 Customer Experience Conference: Engage, Educate, Enhance
CSI: Orlando – Customer Service Investigation: Solving the Mystery of the Future of Customer Service

To be held at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, FL from October 15th through the 17th.

To keep pace with the increasingly wide-range of issues faced by providers – regardless of the industry, MSPA-NA has expanded the 2014 conference to include topics that address the impact of the customer service experience overall.

Since we are in the business of measuring customer experience, we are excited to be attending this event. We will take the opportunity to network with other providers and be in intriguing sessions on how to prepare for the changing landscape of customer relations. The knowledge we pick up from this event will make us better able to take on the challenges of being a mystery shopping company and more efficient in serving our current and future clients.

Keep Customers Coming Back by Avoiding Common Mistakes

Retail sales is a tough gig these days because of the increase in online shopping. Even in the real world, retail salespeople make mistakes, but how they handle them makes all the difference.

Some shoppers think they do not need to talk to a salesperson in the store if they are doing most of their shopping online. However, talking directly with a salesperson can benefit the customer because they can receive immediate help and learn about another product if the initial product turns out to be ineffective.

Here are some of the most common mistakes retail associates make:

• Not building a rapport with the customer. Salespeople often fail to greet a customer, which should be the first step in the sales process. For customers who need help and want to be helped, a greeting starts the conversation. Friendly, pleasant salespeople will keep customers happy and coming back for more. Customers remember those who do not greet them.
• Not finding out what the customer needs. Asking what they need help with allows the sales associate to direct them. Salespeople are there to fulfill a need, but if they cannot identify it, they will not be much help. Sales managers should know the customer and make sure their needs are top priority. Their goal is making the sales process easy. Without that, the sale is lost and so is the customer.
• Not listening. Listening to the customer more will make them a better salesperson overall. Many salespeople are paid, based on their sales, but that is not the best structure when keeping the customer in mind. Giving someone an incentive to sell something creates a pushy situation and will rub the customer the wrong way. Salespeople should not confuse telling with selling. If a salesperson is constantly trying to sell the customer something instead of listening to their problem to help solve it, this is the wrong method.
• Not knowing about promotions when the customer asks. A customer seeking the best deal depends on a salesperson to make that happen. The salesperson should tell them why the company is the best option for them. Salespeople should be trained on the benefits and functions of the products to make the customer feel positive about making the purchase.
• Not addressing a dissatisfied customer immediately. If a customer is not happy with something, a good salesperson will notice and fix it immediately. The salesperson should feel out the customer, be attentive to their needs and suggest add-ons. Once the main sale is made, the salesperson should keep in mind complementary products.

These common mistakes seem easy enough to fix. A successful salesperson gets experience over time and learns from mistakes that will improve their sales technique.


Why you should consider hiring a mystery shopping company?

You own a business and want to evaluate your company as a whole; that is, not through the eyes of an owner but through the eyes of your customer, to know what your customer feel about your services and products and you find it difficult to track down if their needs are perfectly met, then you should hire a mystery shopping company. They can come out with astonishing reports which can be utilised to improvise your venture and thus ensuring a boom in the number of customers approaching you. Mystery shopping: Technically speaking, mystery shopping is a market research tool used by companies to evaluate the quality of service offered and it had been in use since 1940’s. From then mystery shopping was extensively in use and had emerged as a separate industry with a value of over $600 million in United States. The key aspect that makes mystery shopping important is its method of evaluation. We can get a report on our venture from the customer’s perspective which makes it unique from other market research tools. What services does a mystery shopping company offer? When you approach a mystery shopping company what they initially do is conducting a detailed study about your company, the products or services that you provide and the standards to be met. Then they hire a mystery shopper who approaches your company as a normal customer in disguise, whose prime job is the evaluation of certain constraints which your company is supposed to have met. They can some time even behave odd or may be aggressive just to know how your employees handle an irritated customer. They may at time create an issue as if in case of restaurants that the food doesn’t have what it claims to and even take the issue right up to the chef or you to make an analysis of the way the problems are handled. The constraints that they seek to be met includes the greeting time, the waiting time, the cleanliness of the location, dress code, and the way your employees handle the customers. Once the analysis is complete they concentrate on providing you with a report, a detailed report on what their findings are. It includes both good and bad that they had analyzed in your venture. Next they arrange a discussion with you to let you know about where to improve and thus increasing your chances of foot fall. When you are done with your improvising they approach you again to make sure that you had made improvements and thus assure a helping hand to ensure a steady growth in your graph. What type of companies can hire them? Are you thinking over like I am not a big shot to hire a mystery shopper?? Then you are absolutely wrong!! When you don’t find time to analyze your customer’s needs and you can’t reach out to see if all the ends meet you can hire them. The size or turn over never ever matters in hiring a mystery shopper, what really matters is are you ready to make an analysis of your own venture to improvise it. Now what sort of companies can have approach them?? Simply all! Almost all enterprise can have their help irrespective of what they do and what they provide. Restaurants, hotels, retailers, shopping malls, textile ventures, amusement parks, banks and even hospitals can have their service. Big or small, product or service whatever you offer the main concern is total customer satisfaction. May be you believe you are providing your best to them but is this what they expect from you. If a twist or a turn can bring them back to you what is wrong in analyzing how to achieve it. The benefits of hiring one… Before hiring one what could actually be the benefits that you may have, in short a considerable increase in your performance along with a rise in sales and profitability. Provides an update of the real time marketing approach and helps you improve along with it. You can experience a better brand compliance and an assured brand promise to the customers. Identifying the pitfalls from the core and identifying the areas where the employees need training are add on advantages of hiring a mystery shopping company.

How to become a mystery shopper

Looking for extra money or just something to do as a part-time job? Mystery shopping could be that thing that you are looking for. Forget the sketchy looking ads for mystery shopping jobs that you see online on job boards. Mystery shopping is a real job and there are reputable companies that do pay for your input on local businesses.

The first step, if you are thinking about a becoming a mystery shopper, is to do your research! If you see scam reports on a company anywhere online, run away! Another warning sign is if a company tries to make you pay to register to become a mystery shopper. You should never have to pay. That situation is a scam, every time.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Look for accreditation or associations that the company is part of. If they are part of the Better Business Bureau, contact them to get reviews and see their status. An A+ rating is best. This goes for any business that you work with. Also take a look at some of the companies that they represent. A reputable business is most likely to work with other reputable businesses.

Once you find a company that you feel comfortable, go straight to their website or give them a call. Do not register for a job off of a job board. There should be a place on the company’s website with information on how to register and most have the registration right on the site. Fill out the registration and someone will be in contact with you.

You will only be asked to perform shopping jobs within a certain area, depending on where you live. Please note, if you are trying to make a full-time job out of this and support a family, it is not a realistic goal. This job is perfect for supplemental income for people that can pay attention to detail. Liking the activity of shopping doesn’t hurt either.

Thank you to our current and future shoppers for all of your help. We couldn’t provide the great information to our clients that we do without your work. To register to become a shopper with us click here.

Shoppers’ Critique to Attend 2014 National Restaurant Association Show

Every year for the last 95 years, the National Restaurant Association hosts an event where over

two thousand companies get together. Various companies specializing in restaurant operational

issues, menu development, health and nutrition, and many more come out to exhibit

themselves. This year, Shoppers’ Critique International has the pleasure of attending this

wonderful event.

This invitation presents a unique opportunity for us, as we are able to get in front of many different

companies. We’ll take this chance to meet with key individuals in the restaurant industry, and as a

premier mystery shopping company, we can showcase just how effective our mystery shopping

programs are and how they can benefit these companies. Since we already have a foothold in the

restaurant mystery shopping industry, we can provide these companies with a very in-depth view

of how the business actually works by using current examples of how our programs have helped others.

We also have the opportunity to delve even deeper into the restaurant mystery shopping industry

because of just how large and influential the National Restaurant Association is.

The National Restaurant Association show gives the chance for suppliers and specialty booths to present

organic food, allergy and gluten­free meals, franchise opportunities, technology, and

conservation. There will also be special events such as book signings by famous authors, in

addition to the World Culinary Showcase. Shoppers’ Critique International has a very unique

opportunity and we look forward to using the situation to our best ability. We hope to remain the

premier restaurant mystery shopping company, and the National Restaurant Association show is

a great step in maintaining that level of notoriety and quality.

If you are attending the National Restaurant Association this year, we look forward to getting the

opportunity to speak with you and showcase just what Shoppers’ Critique International will be able

to do for your business.

Why the Customer Isn’t Always Right

It sounds so strange to say when you’re dealing with customer service and mystery shopping, but there are times when the customer just isn’t right. There are instances wherein bending your will to an unhappy customer will actually do more harm than good because your business model shouldn’t change to accommodate one individual. Likely you’ve heard the opposite of this your entire business career, but there are distinct reasons why doing so could be detrimental.

Employee Happiness

A good employee means a good customer service reputation, right? When you have an employee that is disgruntled, or doesn’t enact your aspirations as a business, chances are that they are improperly representing your company and therefore hurting your customer service. This is because they lose respect for ownership, they don’t feel like they need to enact any processes that you may have designed, and ultimately they do not feel the need to please the customer because the customer will ultimately get what they want anyway.

Let’s say you have one customer come and complain about their experience from beginning to end. They may have a legitimate cause to have irritations, but if they are perceptions that stem from having a bad day, they can skew the true meaning. It’s times like these that you may feel like accommodating them, and giving them everything they ask for. This demeans your employees, and completely overvalues the customer. In a scenario where you listen to the customer, but don’t bend yourself completely, you’ll keep your employee happy because it shows your trust in them. A happy employee will, in turn, treat future customers as you want them to. You need to have your employees’ backs when dealing with improper clients, because at the end of the day, only one of them is key to the success of your business’ image.

The Right Customer

An outspoken and irritated customer is always easy to spot, because those who fall into this category often want to let everyone else know that they were displeased with your business. While you shouldn’t ignore complaints, completely changing your tactics to fit that irritated client can speak volumes to your other customers, while also empowering the negativity. When a customer sees that you’re willing to say “The customer is always right” they will tend to take advantage of the situation. After all, they aren’t wrong, and therefore can trap you into a scenario where you can never please them.
Undivided attention to an upset customer can tell your “good” customers that their opinions don’t matter as much. They offer just as much input, they just typically aren’t as vocal about it. Try not alienate your good customer base for the sake of one bad egg. Again, it’s best to not ignore irate clients, but rather just try to rein them in as best you can. They aren’t always right, but they can be shown why things are run the way they are run. If the response from them is completely negative, then they aren’t the sort of customer that you need to be reaching out to anyway.

At Shoppers’ Critique, we’re always trying to find the best way to improve your customer service, and sometimes we want to let you know that the traditional ways of thinking may not be correct. The old phrase “The customer is always right” has good merit, but if taken too literally it can spell disaster for your business and subsequently its customer service reputation. Always listen to your customers and your employees. A perfect balance of trust and respect between both parties is the best way to have great customer service. If you’re needing an unbiased perspective on your current customer service, call us for some great mystery shopping tools.

Read more about mystery shopping in this article if you’re curious about the process.

Social Networks Indicate Customer Service Success

In the ever changing world of business and customer service, there are always new hurdles to stay above when trying to keep up relevance. Social media is a constantly growing entity that should always be the focus of any business. Mystery shopping has even taken a turn towards social media as it gives them the opportunity to see a company how everyone else sees them. In essence, the social media platform is an extension of customer service.

We’re here to tell you that the most important aspect when dealing with your social media channels, and subsequently your customer service reputation, is staying timely. Response time of a business weighs heavily on whether you retain customers, because after a week of not hearing a response, the customer has typically moved on to a different place. So stay on top of your online interactions, because as social media grows, so too will the need to be timely.

Another aspect to take into consideration when dealing with an online world is complaints. Every company gets them, but dealing with those complaints is the critical part. Simply responding to an issue that a customer has can drastically improve your appearance to both that person, as well as any other who can see the communication. It shows a level of concern and care that the consumer might need.

Mystery shoppers can use those social media networks as a guideline to view the business before going into the location. It is essentially building a dataset beforehand, which then allows them to take their unbiased opinion of both the online representation and the in store presentation of your business. They do not stand out when entering your business, so these shoppers can give you the best image of your company.

Combining the in store behavior, and the out of store reputation, every company can become successful. It’s just a matter of staying timely and being positive. So use your social media channels to the best ability, because they are a vital part of your customer service reputation.


For more information on social media and customer service, Click Here.