A while back, I was at a conference that included a mystery shopper session. In front of a live audience, a panel of gardeners placed phone and online orders from several catalog companies that had agreed to participate. The catalogers were certainly to be commended for the bravery in participating, and most came through with flying colors. One, unfortunately, suffered some public embarrassment when their telephone rep fumbled all the way through the call.
While it’s true that not every rep has a perfect day every day and these things happen, none of the companies’ performances, good or bad, came as a surprise to me. And if the catalogers were doing their job, it shouldn’t have to them, either.
Finding out how you’re doing at serving your customers has never been easier. Three of the best tools at your disposal are:
1. Garden Watchdog. This online database contains 57,717 comments by 30,340 customers on the quality, price and service of 7,163 mail order gardening companies. One look at recent posts for any given company, and you can get a pretty good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are.
2. Search. Every cataloger should periodically search their own company name. Do a search on both Google Web and Google Groups. The latter will return results from discussion groups that don’t always appear in Web results.
3. Google Alerts. To keep track of what’s being said about your company on a daily basis, sign up for Google Alerts. You’ll automatically get emails when your company (or any other search term you specify) is mentioned I cyberspace.
With technology making so much information so accessible, there’s no reason for any company to be blindsided by customer complaints. Be proactive about checking out how you’re doing, and nip any problems in the bud.