Abt Customer Satisfaction Interview

Abt  Electronics has been able to stay on top in spite of the recession. Visit their store on a weekend and one would wonder if there really is a recession. How do they do it? One way is by giving their customers extraordinarily good service. The second is by monitoring their sales team through monthly mystery shopping. I recently interviewed Geoff Imhof, who is in charge of their mystery shopping program, regarding the importance of customer satisfaction.

1. What made you first implement a Mystery Shopping program? Were there problems within your organization? If so, explain how this course of action helped.

We started our Mystery Shopping Program with the intention of improving our sales staff - making sure that they were qualifying our customers properly and exploring every avenue leading to a sale. But it isn't just about making a sale, it's letting the customer know we appreciate their business.

2. Did this program help to improve customer service/satisfaction and how?

I believe our customer service is very good and has improved with this program.  It allows us to key on specific areas if we feel improvement is needed.

3. Obviously, Abt cares a lot about customer service. Explain Abt’s values and how mystery shopping has helped improve/maintain your desired levels.

Abt's philosophy on customer service revolves mainly around empowering employees to make their own decisions that hopefully enhance our customer's experience. The mystery shopping program helps us make sure that the decisions our employees are making are the correct ones.  Many customers will tell you what you are doing wrong.  The MS program not only tells us what we do wrong, but what we're doing right.

4. How long have you been using an Mystery Shopping program?

I'm not exactly sure.  I've been overseeing the program for about 5 years, but I know it was at least 5 years prior that.

5. Would you recommend this type of feedback program and why?

I'm a firm believer that using this type of program is beneficial to any organization interested in good customer service.  No company can manage every aspect of their business every moment of the day. This type of program gives you insight into situations that you may not have otherwise been exposed to. Every inside employee we have could be involved in the mystery shopping process and all of our employees are aware of this. It keeps them on their toes.

6. How do you use the reporting system?

We probably under utilize the reporting system, but know it's there if we want detailed information about a specific question over a period of time.

7. What do you expect from your employees in terms of customer service?

We expect that they treat the customers in a manner that would insure the customer returns to our store for every future need they may have.  We have a motto that states, "The answer is yes to any reasonable request." We want to say yes whenever possible.

8. How has mystery shopping impacted your bottom line?

It's hard to say how the mystery shopping program specifically impacts our bottom line, but it keeps us aware of what we need to continue doing to keep our customers coming back to our store. It costs far less to keep customers that already come to our store than try to gain new customers.

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