Curtis Associates Research Ltd
Higher Education and Industrial Research Market Research, Database Management and Business Development Services

Mystery Shopping - Service Comparisons Using Market Research

Client need:
Our client is a supplier of goods and equipment into the UK industrial marketplace.  The goods supplied are consumables and capital goods that contribute to the infrastructure of an industrial company.  Our client’s product range had developed through product infill with new catalogues being produced in support of the increased offering.  The wider product range took our client into competition with previously unknown competitors, and they wished to understand how their customer service stood up to comparison.

Market research needs:
To determine, through direct comparison our client’s performance against its key competitors.
Establishing specific service standards within particular areas of the business.

The criteria used in mystery shopping programmes are normally a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures in order to moderate the hard (usually process driven) measures with the soft (human interaction) issues.  After determining those issues that were key to the service being offered, we embarked on several waves of mystery shopping, each wave looking at a different aspect of customer service.

Key outcomes:
Only one of the 5 companies tested had any proactive new customer reception process.  Our client put in place customer care procedures for their new customers, encouraging them to place further orders habitually.
One of the other competitors not only did not send their catalogue but also showed an amateur approach to account opening.  In the real world, this would not have made a good initial impression on a customer, but it gave our client a very strong marketing message to take to their new market base.
A different supplier was let down by a lack of rigour in their account procedures.
Such was the severity of this that we doubt whether, in the real world, customers would have wished this company as a major supplier without first having tested the robustness of their service several times.  Again, this gave our client some very strong marketing messages to take to their new market base.

Without doubt, the benefits of doing this type of research are rich.  Not only did we determine service weaknesses of our client’s competitors, but we were also able to measure their activity levels.

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