Have you shopped yourself?

Have you shopped yourself?

I've always been fascinated by the "secret shopper" concept. (Maybe it's because I worked retail through high school and college). The concept is simple: Have someone "secretly" shop at your place of business, so you can experience exactly what your customers experience.

My sense is that not many associations do this, and plenty of them could benefit from it. Here are just a few ways you can do it:

  1. Have someone call your office (not someone on staff, but someone else). Give them a short list of questions (two or three) to ask. Note how quickly the phone is answered, how polite and pleasant the person answering the phone was, and how well the questions were answered.
  2. Call after hours and leave a message, to determine how long it takes for messages to be replied to.
  3. Use the "got a question" form on your website (or submit a question to the generic info@ email address) and see how long it takes to get a response.
  4. Have someone (not staff) go online and join your organization, and/or register for an event, and/or purchase a product. Note how many steps it takes, what kind of email acknowledgment is sent, etc.

You get the idea.

I can't tell you the number of places I've contacted (retail outlets, online commerce sites, doctor's offices) where it's clear that management has no idea how poor the customer service really is.

I think most of my clients assume that their customer service is very good and very responsive. But the reality might be something completely different. The only way to find out is to test it yourself as secretly as possible.

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