Texting twist for mystery shoppers

By Holly Ryan

Quick-fire mobile system transforms traditional 'mystery shopper' feedback.

Matt Wylie.
Matt Wylie.

Auckland-based Customer Radar aims to turn the traditional "mystery shopper" way of rating company performance on its head with a text-based mobile system aimed at everyday customers.

Chief executive Mat Wylie said more than 96 per cent of customers won't say anything when they have a bad consumer experience, but 90 per cent of these people won't return if their issue is not resolved.

The "old school methodology" of using a mystery shopper has for years been the standard way of measuring customer experience, or by using the few pieces of voluntary feedback that stores and outfits receive.

"New Zealand businesses are really starting to pick up on the fact that if they don't understand [their customers] and have their customer feedback channel open twenty-four seven, then they're really just guessing what the customer wants. With the mystery shopper idea, if you ask something subjective like "how did you feel" and you take one or two customers a month, the margin of error on that data is about 98 per cent, which is outrageous," Wylie said.

Customer Radar's software-as-a-service model is based on an easy-to-use mobile response to a customer experience.

For the stores that use Customer Radar, customers receive a unique code on their receipt which verifies they have purchased from the store and are a customer. They can then text in a rating for their experience and any comments they have.

There are incentives such as draws for prizes or vouchers to encourage people to respond, but the system's main advantage is its simplicity, he says. "Customer Radar makes it easy. We're not asking you a 10-question survey, we're not asking you to stay online for two or three minutes, it's literally a 15- to 30-second survey.

"And if it's easy enough, then enough people will respond."

The ease of the process is evidenced by the more than half a million pieces of feedback Customer Radar has already collected in four years, for companies including Toyota, Super Liquor, Noel Leeming, BP, Green Cross Health (which includes Unichem and Life Pharmacy's 300 outlets nationwide) and The Body Shop.

According to Wylie, several of the firms using Customer Radar have had between 120,000 and 150,000 feedback responses, and growing. The quantity of feedback provided means they can be sure the information is accurate - a major selling point for Customer Radar.

The data is organised in a way that is specifically tailored to each firm, usually by ratings over the week and per day, as well as compared with other stores in the company.

It is collated into easy-to-use graphs and comment clusters so firms can quickly see what customers are saying and how their stores rate.

Another important aspect of customer service from Wylie's perspective is service recovery.

A recent example he heard was a supermarket owner who has had customers give feedback as soon as they get to their car. "He's been alerted straight away and ... literally fixed the problem before the customer has left the carpark."

Customer Radar

• Launched in 2008 and has collected more than 500,000 responses from customers.

• Feedback is gathered in a quick and easy-to-use mobile survey.

• Information is organised in easily manageable ways for companies to use.

• Incentives such as draws for prizes or vouchers encourage people to respond.

- APNZ

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