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Undercover Insights: What Your Customer Experiences

No matter how much you believe in what your company is all about, the only opinions that truly matter are those who will be opening their wallets to purchase what you’re offering.


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What if there was a way that you could see your business through the eyes of your customers or clients? Any small business owner needs to take very seriously how their enterprise is perceived by the people it serves. But how can you truly disseminate the experience of someone who seeks out your company for specific goods or services?

         

Many entrepreneurs have a well-grounded understanding of market research concerning the creation or development of their business venture. Taking a multifaceted approach to determining viability in the marketplace can embody everything from informal investigation via social media platforms to meticulous data gathering via surveys or focus groups. These efforts aim to gain a clear perspective on whether your enterprise can indeed be relevant to the purchasing public. Whether you’re attempting to launch a new business or adding elements to your existing service structure, it’s crucial to view your efforts with a critical eye.

         

Yet, this is only one instance where you must adopt an analytical approach to your entrepreneurial efforts. At the other end of the spectrum is another crucial element of business stability that merits investigation: ascertaining the efficacy of what you’ve put into place. What began as a fledgling concept in your brain has now (hopefully) become a tangible manifestation of your ingenuity, so it’s only logical to take the time to determine just how effectively you were able to materialize your idea. This exercise varies significantly from what’s involved when first trying to implement something. That tentative investigation into “Will it work?” tends to be speculative and doesn’t carry any discernible conclusions about how things will turn out.

         

Looking at your efforts once they’ve been implemented needs to be much more than just an academic exercise. You must gain a clear understanding of how sustainable your efforts are from the standpoints of both financial and human resources. On the surface, it can be tempting to believe that you need to look no further than your financial books to gauge your success. However, this approach can fail to identify potential gaps in your service structure that can erode the experience of the people patronizing your business. In reality, the dynamics of your overall operations intertwine with the individual aspects of your goods or services. Customers may love the new product you unveiled a few months ago, but is that fantastic gadget sold to them by staff members lacking essential people skills?

         

Unfortunately, some business owners take a casual approach or sidestep the issue in this area. No matter how much you believe in what your company is all about, the only opinions that truly matter are those who will be opening their wallets to purchase what you’re offering. The sad truth is that markets and the customers and clients who represent them can be fickle. Particularly in the current inflation-drenched economy, people seek value for their money. Value can mean the lowest price, but, more often than not, it can instead denote the concept of getting something out of the bargain that causes the people you serve to believe that they’ve walked away from the transaction with even more than they paid for.

         

Understanding how people perceive your business can be achieved by simply asking them. In this digital age, various easy and economical options exist for gathering that kind of feedback. Customer or client surveys can be constructed via online tools such as Google Forms or Microsoft Forms. The links to these documents can be provided in emails, printed documents, and even via QR codes for easy access. The goal should be twofold: make it as simple and straightforward as possible for those you serve to tell you how you’re doing, but also ensure that you’re asking precise questions so that the responses they provide can be qualitatively evaluated.

         

But even something as seemingly comprehensive as a concise and pointed survey can still fall short of providing you with the clearest perspective of the service level you’re providing. If you are a sole proprietor, your interaction with your clients or customers and their corresponding overall satisfaction level should be relatively transparent. The issue becomes considerably more complex when other team members are involved. Even if those who comprise your staff are capable, well-trained, and fluent in what they’re doing, there can still be aspects of how your enterprise conducts business that can leave a bad taste in the mouths of those you serve.

         

One effective means of gaining a different perspective of your business can be achieved by using what was generically referred to as a “secret shopper.” It’s widely accepted that this practice originated with a research company called Wilmark Group that, in the 1940s, developed the concept of sending individuals posing as shoppers into retail establishments so that the entire customer experience could be documented firsthand. This practice gave business owners the most unbiased perspective of how their establishments were perceived when patrons sought them out. The data gathered through this exercise helped determine if there were issues, such as unpleasant or unreliable staff members, that might have been difficult for management to spot.

         

This technique can still be applied today, but it needs to be utilized with discretion and a deep understanding of how it plays out. Because it’s a deception – convincing those who work for you that this person is a legitimate client or customer – adopting this approach needs to be done judiciously. If your staff somehow realized that things weren’t what they appeared to be, it could create hard feelings and a sense of distrust toward you as the business owner. The “secret shopper” methodology might be most effective and appropriate in situations where there have already been reports of problems with staff or in scenarios where it’s obvious that something just isn’t working the way it should.

         

If you opt to send an “undercover agent” into your own business, the individual you select for that role should not only be completely trustworthy but also separated from the operations of your enterprise so that they have no preconceived notions of what to expect. It’s critical to establish clearly defined bullet points outlining what you want to have investigated, and this needs to be followed up with a confidential and specific debriefing session in which you discuss everything observed during the exercise in detail. Ideally, if you try something like this, it would be most advantageous to schedule multiple instances using different “agents” so that there’s the potential to interact with other staff under varying operating circumstances.

         

The most significant guiding factor in drawing conclusions from this approach is understanding that everyone has bad days. An employee might display subpar customer service skills due to unseen factors playing out behind the scenes on that particular day, only to resume their standard, exemplary service level the next day. Even if the final analysis reveals deficiencies in one or more team members, this still doesn’t give license to determine that they’re no longer valid contributors to the success of your business. It’s much more beneficial to craft an approach geared toward addressing potential gaps in your training or resource materials, with the underlying goal being to strengthen and develop the skills of those on your staff for tremendous future success.

         

Gaining insights into what your customer or client experiences can be incredibly transformative for your business, but only if your approach is tempered with the reality that teams can only flourish when provided with relevant, gentle, non-judgmental guidance. By embracing this truth, you can help them make course corrections and adopt methods of delivering service that elevate your business and the integrity and self-worth of those who work for you.

 

Ready to gain invaluable insights into your customer experience and take your business to the next level? Partner with ValorExcel today and let us help you unlock the potential of your enterprise. Visit our website at https://www.valorexcel.com/book-online, to book your power hour session where you’ll meet with ValorExcel staff to get started. Or, call 240-329-9387 or email us at info@valorexcel.com, ✨ Also, don't forget to check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Reach out to us now and start transforming your business! #CustomerExperience #BusinessTransformation #ValorExcel #Insights #Partnership


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