When the television show ‘Undercover Boss’ screened in Australia, business owners watched eagerly to see what the outcomes were each episode, with the usual scenario where the staff were fabulous against all odds as a result of which they received a reward or promotion. There were cases though where the ‘Undercover Boss’, uncovered some unsavoury work practices or lack of resources, impacting on productivity.
As owners and operators of businesses with a lot fewer employees (sometimes only yourselves or one other), to go undercover may not be an option, but let me ask you before you began your business or even now after you have established your business did you do a little undercover work by checking out what your competitor did in their business?
Many owners and managers do, I have spoken to many CEO’s over the years who all admit to checking not only their competitors but also their prospective employer, getting the low down on the business before they sign the dotted line and getting a personal idea of how the staff interact with customers.
Providing Grass Root Knowledge
As an owner going undercover may not be a practical option so let’s look at other research methods in measuring the ROI on the intangibles.
– Suggestion/feedback cards
– Customer surveys
– Staff surveys
– Focus groups
– Mystery shopping
All are means of measuring the ROI on the tangible, but more importantly the intangible.
Oops has been providing research services including ‘Mystery Shopping’ services for close on twenty years. Using our own proprietary software ‘OARS’, collecting real-time data that is with the client within 24 hours, thanks to cloud technology and employees Australia wide, we are able to offer a product that it tailored for every business in every industry that is benchmarked.
The foundation of all business is the service that is provided to your customer and it’s the feeling that they have before, during and after the transaction. No matter how good the product or facility might be, if it is delivered with disdain, or an uncaring and unfocused service manner chances are there won’t be a sale or certainly not a repeat sale.
Research shows that there is a buying cycle that differs on products as well as for people, your job as a business owner is to figure this out:
– Who is your target market?
– What does your brand stand for – what do you want your business to be known for?
– Are you and your staff passionate about the business?
– Do your values underpin the organisational culture?
Without passion and commitment you are not going to be any different from your competitor.
People are our business – without customers coming through the door there is no business and without staff choosing to work in our businesses there is no business. The human element is the difference between your business and your competitor. How do you find out how that human element interacts with your customers?
There are a number of key indicators in your business that need to be analysed and the top three are: hiring and firing, analyse marketing impacts/trends and communication with your client base. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions and consider whether your business needs to be analysed or perhaps your competitor.
Hiring and Firing
What are the core values of your business and do they underpin the organisational culture of your business? Do you have an interview and induction program when hiring staff? Do you need to make an adjustment to your organisational culture?
Analyse Marketing Impacts/Trends
You have all heard the numbers bandied around on how we are bombarded daily with advertising. Businesses marketing their products and services whether it’s on a billboard along the freeway or the ‘inbox’.
Repeatedly staff and management are told; you need to immerse yourselves in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, e-zines, YouTube clips and podcasts or do you use newsletters, published articles, the local paper, direct mail, sms or even flyers? Whether you do some or all, more importantly is doing it right consistently and then measuring your marketing returns.
Surveying your current customers is a great way of finding out what their perceptions are of your business and of your staff, feedback on your marketing and where your strengths and weaknesses are.
At OOPS our clients have been able to forecast their growth and add to their product mix from what they have learned from the surveys and facilitation that we have conducted for them on their behalf.
Communication with Your Client Base
Just about every business has a website, that is looked at with wonder when it first goes up but then is promptly forgotten by many managers as they depend on their ‘web designer’ to review the site on an ongoing basis. When conducting Mystery Shopping reports for our clients on their websites we find; photos and links that don’t work, incorrect phone numbers, managers names that no longer work there and outdated product information.
Marketing is a constant changing process in business, as are your customers. They may be the same demographic but the way they find out about your facility has changed and websites and apps are the ‘first impression’ of your business.
Through appropriate research and analysis (whether it be mystery shopping, focus groups, surveys or internal audits) you can gather data and in doing so establish a strategic competitive edge.
Engage your customers, don’t just serve them.