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 Ideas on how to force an associate to even speak with you?
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SinJinSC
Member

Bluffton, SC
USA
12 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  08:19:52 AM
I had to do a shop yesterday in a outlet mall that is known locally for it's lack of service, you could browse around in there forever and no one will talk to you, until you put money on the counter. They get a large amount of tourist traffic, but not as many locals. I felt ignored by the associates, who answered my questions by keeping their backs to me while they set up a rack behind the register area. The company didn't like my report so now I have to "redo" the report or I won't be paid. Frankly I don't care about the money. I might as well not even been in the store by the way they behaved. I am supposed to be a "regular customer", what do I have to do to make them notice me and not make it obvious they are being shopped? As a "regular customer" by the time I got to the second "excuse me" I would be long gone and spending my money somewhere else.
Any ideas that won't make it obvious I am the mystery shopper?

MichelleJ_OK
Contributor

Tuttle, OK
USA
80 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  10:32:58 AM
That's a hard one. I'll be interested to hear some of the Ol' timers suggestions. For me, I really hate it when the associates don't do what they should. I always try to point out all the good things, along with the bad. I think the companies appreciate my optimisim. For instance: "The associates were busy working on setting up a display and did not have much time to interact with me. The flow of customers was steady but not overbearing. When I approached an associate she did not turn around to greet me but she did answer my question adequately."
You know what I mean? I think that helps, because I've never been asked to reshop. I am not trying to insinuate you did not write your report correctly. I am just suggesting how I *might* have written the report in a similar cirmumstance.
That's really all you can do. Just write the best report you are able to.
As far as your repeat performance goes..... Just try to play it like it's the first time in there. Give them every chance to perform. We need to remember as mystery shoppers, that we aren't regular customers. In a lot of circumstances we wouldn't, as regular customers, put up with a situation. But as Mystery Shoppers it's our goal to report on how regular customers are being treated, good and bad, and put up with that stuff.
I dont know if that helps at all---probably not. I'm looking forward to hearing from some of the others.

"I wish I had a dollar for every time I spent a dollar, because, then, yahoo!, I'd have all my money back.
--Jack Handey, "Deepest Thoughts"
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ShAndrews
Inactive

Inland Empire, California
USA
480 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  10:51:25 AM  Send ShAndrews an AOL message
Why in the world is the company telling you to redo the report??? You completed your assignment and turned in your observations. Isn't the entire point of MSing to let the company who hired you know how their employees are treating their customers? If they didn't like your report, does that mean they are going to keep making you redo it until you turn in a positive one? Maybe there were other circumstances, though. JMHO

Now, getting back to the topic, here's a suggestion for employees who won't pay attention to you: Tap them on the shoulder, and when they turn around tell them in a loud voice, "I have an ear infection and can't hear you." That'll keep 'em looking your way! [:p]

Shannon R. Andrews
MSPA Gold Certified
Shopping the Inland Empire, Southern California
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SinJinSC
Member

Bluffton, SC
USA
12 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  12:40:48 PM
I wish I could have tapped them on the shoulder or even got them to turn around! They were behind the counter/register though, and with three associates, you think at least ONE might have actually turned fully around and shown an interest in us! I don't have to redo the shop, it seems they just want the report rewritten to reflect something that didn't happen.
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MaryFord
Member

Sebring, FL
USA
17 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  2:30:48 PM  Visit MaryFord's Homepage
Wow, my mom(both of us are shoppers)had a shop alot like this for a pet shop. The associates were more interested in who might win the lottery and what they would do with it, than the customers. My mom asked them a few questions, only getting slight explanation, and no offer to show her or offer her another item. When she filled out the report, the scheduler called her to re-do it because the associates should have suggested other items. She told the scheduler if they didn't offer the first time, why would they do it the 2nd time? And that if the associate didn't offer her some items again, would she have to do the report again? Well she did do the shop again, and again 4 associates were there, none of them interested in the customers in the store. Still not really helping as they "should". But I guess the 2nd time was ok, because she didn't get another call to re-do the shop again

Shopping somewhere in central FL with my mom!
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MikeShop
Contributor

NJ
USA
54 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  2:41:02 PM
You might have had your report rejected if it required you communicate with an associate, and you had no communication.
I try to be scan the floor, for my best chance at an associate. I try not to say "excuse me". I will get their attention by saying something humorous, then "Can I ask you something" , or I will turn up the charm (if it is a female associate). The topic is titled "Ideas on how to force an associate to speak to you?" I try to catch more flies with honey, then vinegar. No force, no excuse me, I think associates hear excuse me 999 times a day, and some start to tune out after a while.
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MarteeC
Star Contributor

Tampa, FL
USA
1352 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  5:22:36 PM
You may be interested in this thread from just a few days ago:

Salesperson just would not do the presentation, now I won't get paid. What should I have done?
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.ShannonPA
Inactive

PA
USA
415 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  8:13:59 PM
I don't understand why some companies don't seem to want to know what really happened when we do our shops. I did a cellphone shop the other day where the salesperson did not provide any information without my asking her questions. I had to ask, "How's the coverage? Do they have good phones? Are you charged for roaming? Are they better than Sprint?" etc. Well, she answered with, "Good. Yes, the phones are fine. They don't charge for roaming. They have more towers than Sprint." It was liking pulling teeth. I dragged it out as long as I could, and even then, I was out of there in 5 minutes. This was at a small RadioShack and I saw all I needed to observe during the brief interaction with her. (Neat displays, more noticeable than the competition's displays, etc.) Now the company says I wasn't there long enough to look at the displays. Ugg! I asked the girl to show me the phones so I could check out the display, and the signs and posters are visible as soon as you walk in the store. If they greet you immediately and answer all your questions, how are you supposed to drag out this shop? I guess I should have thought in advance of something I might need to look for at this store, but I've never been greeted that fast. Should I have LIED about the time I spent in the store? I don't believe that is right. I saw and heard what I needed to. It is sometimes really hard to spend the time you MUST spend and ask the questions you MUST ask and not be "Made" as the Mystery Shopper.

MSPA Gold Certified uwjrsy
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MaryHermann
Valued Contributor

Kalispell, MT
USA
119 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  8:24:42 PM
I usually always have something in my hand now to make sure I get a face-to-face with an employee...because of previous shops where I had to literally ask them to look at me and speak because of a hearing impairment (very fast thinking).
I hold my hand over a price tag and ask if they know how much this is, or I have something that is scan-sold and ask if they know the price because I found it in an aisle it didn't belong in.
I got tired of forcing interaction, so I just carry an 'object of interaction' with me now :)
It also helps to stand back away from the employee so they have to walk toward you, giving you time to 'eyeball hunt' for a name tag.
The things you have to do just to get service nowadays....:)

The voices may not be real, but they sure have some good ideas!
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MarteeC
Star Contributor

Tampa, FL
USA
1352 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2003 :  8:24:56 PM
Your questions should be asked in a way that requires more interaction. "What is the coverage?", "Could you show me some of the phones? What are the features? How does that work?","Are there surcharges for things like roaming? What are they?", "How do they compare to Sprint?" Then ask about a competitor or peruse the brochure and make comparisons on your own if necessary. This company states how long you are expected to be on site, it is up to you to do what is necessary to fulfill that requirement. You can make exterior observations as well, extending your time on site to include your time in the parking lot if necessary.
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JoyB
Valued Contributor

Cherry Hill, NJ
USA
212 Posts

Posted - 07/27/2003 :  7:12:52 PM
Unless the scenario instructs you to do so, if you ask questions like "Can you show me the phones" and "tell me about the coverage", aren't you prompting the employee. Therefore isn't your report on the service based on your promptings not the employees sales ability. Its a hard line to walk. There is nothing wrong with reading through the brochures or browsing the store a bit longer if it is apparent that the associate has ended the transaction and you are still under your time limit.

Gold Certified Shopper in South Jersey - Cherry Hill, Marlton, Voorhees, Moorestown, Mt. Laurel, Berlin, Medford and other neighboring towns.
joy.bennett@verizon.net
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MarteeC
Star Contributor

Tampa, FL
USA
1352 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2003 :  06:09:05 AM
JoyB Yes, and your point is well taken. My point was that if you are asking a questions, you should be asking one that allows interaction. Not all phone shops require you to come in with the "Cellphone? No, never had one, never used one. Is that what ya'll sell here? I thought it might be time to see what all the hoopla is about" although you are absolutely correct that most that I have done do not want you to lead the sales presentation. Some do however allow you to test the product specific knowledge of the CSR, some in fact require it. One I do requests that you compare your present service.
Thank heavens they have moved away from the , "Cellphone? What's a cellphone" stuff. Really, who has not had ANY experience with a cellphone anymore? It is so much more believable for me to be able to say , "My contract is coming up soon and I wanted to compare plans..."
But overall you are right. The best approach is the "Show me what ya got buddy!"
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Sandi In Mississippi
Star Contributor

MS
USA
1285 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2003 :  07:14:35 AM
I like to make up questions to elicit product info ahead of time. If the salesperson does their job correctly and volunteers the info you are ahead of the game. If not, you have your script ready to get the facts you need. Martee's approach of asking more open-ended questions seems to work the best. If they still don't "make a recommendation," and that is required, I just say - "Well, I'm not sure I absorbed everything you told me, so which one would you choose if you were me?" Then I remove the forceps from their mouth and stand back. Believe it or not, about 50% still have NO recommendation, but the question can be honestly answered 'Associate refused to make recommendation.'

As far as associates ignoring you, it's sometimes necessary to be aggressive. While the regular customer would just leave, you don't have that option if there's info you need to complete your report. Before entering, I look at the timings and decide what is an appropriate amount of time to wait for help (if that is not already stated in your directions). Some things to do if associates ignore you and you need answers? Approach so physically close that they are compelled to recognize you even if that involves going to the end of the counter like you're coming back there! I have moved so close to a salesperson that I was touching her arm with my hip. She tried to escape even then, but I followed her. Wear glasses and call out from a little ways into the store that "I can't read this, could you help me?" Raising your voice is effective. You don't have to stay that loud after they turn around, just give 'em a little shock. I don't use the "excuse me" because that is too easy to ignore. If you've already been ignored for 7 minutes a little "excuse me" may be brushed off. A direct request like, "I need your help over here" seems rude, but it can do the trick. Regular customers are not all mild-mannered and unobtrusive so you can "act" like a different type of person than you actually are and still be a regular shopper.

So far I've never had to redo a retail shop although I've had questions asked by a couple companies to clarify reports. I include any details or quotes as well as the amount of time waited prior to my having to "force" service. And, I read the directions once more every single time just before going into the store. I want to know what I'm looking for. I've probably asked more questions of schedulers about retail shops than any other type to clarify what they want. In some cases they actually don't want you to use any of these techniques and will accept the fact that you were not helped adequately. However, if they are asking for interaction and answers to specific questions you were to pose about products, it's likely they want you to have the associate's attention and you just have to do what it takes to complete that.
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YevFoster
Member

SC
USA
15 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2003 :  08:55:58 AM
This thread has been helpful! I have been wondering this for a few days now! Thanks everyone!

MSPA Silver Certified
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