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Mystery shoppers provide insights into industry

The bpma’s mystery shopper programme will help to improve standards, writes Gordon Glenister.

The bpma conducted its first-ever mystery shopper programme in the summer of 2015. In all, 30 distributors were selected by leading researcher Facts International, across a range of turnover bands.

Each distributor was shopped four times, twice on email and twice on the telephone. A number of interactions were measured. With regard to the telephone responses, 73% had their call answered within three rings and 9% went straight to voicemail. At its best, the phone was answered with one ring. At its worst, six calls were made and an answer-machine was noted each time.

With regard to email quote requests online, 34% of those didn’t receive any form of reply. At their best, emails were personally addressed, customers thanked for their enquiry and the details of their request relayed back to them. But at its worst, no acknowledgement email was received and no clarification of the request. Following the enquiry, only 56% received a formal quotation. Costs were commonly sent in an email.

The researchers also found out varying levels of information collected at the first point of contact. Only 43% asked for the telephone number, however, 81% did ask for the email. There was also a sense that the level of understanding of the requirements of the customer were limited. In fact 55% of those questioned were not asked what the product was being used for. Observations were also made about providing alternatives to suit a particular need: only 39% were offered a better alternative.

Researchers felt that there were some real opportunities for distributors to differentiate themselves.

Shout about compliance. If your goods meet regulations, make it clear, explain what the regulations mean.

Promote bpma membership and what it stands for. Marketers associate industry standards with quality and compliance.

Train frontline staff. Ensure they are knowledgeable about compliance. Ensure processes such as capturing all the basic details are followed. Build confidence in frontline staff to ask questions and suggest alternatives.

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