Secret Shopper?

Many years back when I owned a franchise printshop, the corporate guys decided that it would be smart to use a secret shopper program.  They would do both in-store and phone visits (recording the phone calls) and then report back to the owner how whatever employee answered performed. I was not opposed to this idea and thought that it could be helpful.  At the time I had long term employees that I was very confident in (designer for 6 years, CSR for 6 years, press guy for 14 and a sales guy for 7 years), but it would help to keep everyone fresh.  So I signed up.

Now the fun begins.  They suggest that you tell employees that you have started the program due to the recording of the calls.  So I did that and got no pushback from the employees.  First month rolls around and we are scheduled for 2 in store visits and 3 phone calls.  The first visit I spotted a mile away.  I saw them pull up in front of the store and sit in their car for at least 30 minutes, reading something and looked like they were talking to themselves.  I thought that they were perhaps trying to remember what they were supposed to ask for.  So when they finally got out of the car, I went to the back making sure that April would get the first shot.  After they start interacting I make my way upfront so that I can be in earshot.  The person starts off asking her if we can do certain things. In this case she asked about letterhead and envelopes. I heard her ask “Can you print two over zero?”.  Nobody asks it that way unless they are in the business or saw it printed that way on a sheet of prepared questions. They would ask if we could print 2 colors.  She then asked if we could match colors using the Pantone Matching System.  Again, nobody ever says it like that.  “Can you do PMS matching”, would be the way to say that.  The rest of the conversation went along the same line, with me just standing in the background shaking my head.  When she left, April turned to me and said “That HAD to be one of them, right?”.  I said that it sure seemed like it and then we went on about our day.

The second in store visit came a week or so later when I wasn’t there, but listening to April describe it, our designer was the one who had waited on the guy and the conversation was almost the same.  I sure hope the calls were better.  I would get the recordings of those that the end of the month.

The CD arrives and my god it was the same, if not worse!  I listened to the first caller and I swear they were just reading down a list of our services.

“Do you make copies?  How much?”

“Do you do business cards?  How much?’

“Do you do envelopes?  How much?”

“Do you do pens?  How much?”

This went on for maybe 12 different items.  With each one my CSR told them that yes we do those things but pricing depends on a lot of different factors, such as quantity, paper, ink color(s) and how fast you need them.  You would have thought she got the hint after the third one, but no, same type of questions which got the same type of answer.  The best one was the last one.  “Do you do flyers?”  This one was not followed by the usual ‘how much’ question, but with “Do you have any in stock?”  Um, what? With all politeness April paused, then answered “We don’t stock flyers since they are all different.  If you have a print ready file we can print them for you pretty fast.  If you would like us to create one for you, you are welcome to come in and meet with our designer so you can discuss what you want it to look like.  She is very good at translating your thoughts into a beautiful design.  Would you like to make an appointment?”  That got a reply back of maybe later and the call ended shortly after that.  The next 2 calls were almost carbon copies of the in store visits, pretty much unproductive.

So a program that I thought might help turned out to be a total shit storm.  Poor execution doomed it from the start.  The people calling should have had a minimal knowledge of printing, like that of a print buyer.  Reading a purchasing script was just way too obvious. Oh, and I cancelled it and got my money back, as did most of the other stores that signed up for it.



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