Written by Paul Taylor.

Are you thinking about a Mystery Shopping project or programme for your B2B business?

Mystery Shopping certainly isn’t just for retail, hospitality and other B2C businesses. It can help B2B organisations to find ways to improve:

  • Sales conversion ratios
  • Average order values
  • Client satisfaction
  • Loyalty / renewals / attrition

…and countless other aspects of their business including positioning, marketing collateral, systems, processes and operational issues.

You can gain valuable information about things that were already “on your radar”, and completely new insights about things that weren’t.

It can be combined with competitor Mystery Shopping and other forms of competitor research, to provide a greater understanding of your standing in the market, and your strengths and weaknesses.

It can be a very valuable exercise. But it does depend on how it is approached and managed.

What has prompted your interest?

Interest in Mystery Shopping can be driven by many things, but most often it is driven by concerns.

Perhaps you have concerns about sales conversions, or you’re worried about mediocre service delivery.

Maybe you are just keen to get an outsider’s perspective and any insights into how you can improve your offer, your sales processes, or your service or support.

Whatever stoked your interest, you probably have lots of questions and things you need to decide on before you can move forward. On our Blog, you’ll find two articles that will provide more food for thought.

One is about why Mystery Shopping can be so valuable for B2B businesses. There are some good reasons why, sometimes, really honest feedback won’t come from your existing customers (or from your prospective clients who decide to go elsewhere!).

The second article suggests things to consider when you’re choosing a partner to work with.

This page also outlines some general considerations, explains more about our approach and includes some reasons to get in touch with us to discuss your project (please call on 01392 984224 or email connect@customerwise.co.uk).

Some common considerations

B2B Mystery Shopping projects and programmes tend to be more involved than B2C projects, and often they’re more challenging in terms of planning and administration.

It isn’t necessarily rocket science, but a degree of thought and care is needed along with, often, a bespoke approach.

  • B2B sales cycles are often longer and much more complex than B2C. If you want to look at your sales process or sales staff performance, multiple stages may need to be planned.
  • There might be very specific requirements in terms of buyer profiles – the scenarios that are played out need to be relevant and realistic.
  • You may also want to look at different products and services (or combinations of them), or look at different departments, teams, or even individuals.
  • You may want to go beyond the sales process and look at other parts of the customer or client journey… perhaps, the whole thing.
  • Maybe you want more than one perspective. How many would make sense?

Depending on your business, there might be lots of questions like these. And each one will often have several potential answers, that might depend on circumstances.

A bespoke solution that is co-designed

Some B2B businesses are very clear on what they want and the approach they want to take, and sometimes their requirements are quite simple and straightforward.

But often we find that B2B clients want and need more support. They want a partner who can co-create their B2B Mystery Shopping project or programme with them; someone who can advise them, and share ideas (before then moving the project forward, competently and diligently).

If your provider is going to serve as your trusted advisor, you should trust them… and ideally, they should have some advice to share!

If you will be working with your provider in this way, you’ll obviously need to have confidence:  confidence in the person you’ll be liaising with, and confidence in the team who will managing the project or service.

 

Not all the same

It may sound obvious, but not all Mystery Shopping companies will offer the same quality of advice, or demonstrate the same level of competence. This is especially true, and especially important, in the case of B2B projects. The impact of the right or the wrong choice can be significant.

In the end, the exercise should produce valuable insights and information that can help your business to improve performance, but if handled badly, it could be a frustrating waste of time and money.

So, if you are going to work with a partner, it is crucial that you choose the right partner.

More than anything, you should be looking to work with someone who seems “switched on”, who listens well and asks intelligent questions; someone who “gets” you (your business, your products and services, and your market), and understands what you want to achieve, and who offers ideas (preferably  ideas that have some merit!).

Your provider must also have a team member who will then take ownership of service delivery and ultimately meet, and preferably exceed, your expectations (this could be the same person).

Finding the right B2B Mystery Shopping partner

How will you select the right company to work with?

Don’t rush in

Firstly, I’d recommend that you don’t rush into a decision about who you are going to work with.

You should have conversations about your project with several providers, and see who you “click” with, and who seems to really understand you, your goals and your objectives.

You should have at least two conversations with each potential provider, and allow enough time (e.g. a few days) for the provider to consider your project and produce something in writing that confirms their understanding of your needs, and outlines their thoughts and ideas, along with their proposed route forward.

If they really want to work with you (and if they deserve to!), they should be willing to help you to scope out and plan the delivery of your project or programme.

It is likely that some providers will disappoint you in these areas (but of course this will narrow the field, making your choice easier)…

You may see standard proposals with whole sections that are irrelevant. Important points that you explained during phone calls or meetings may be apparently forgotten about. You might just see blatant sloppiness.

These sorts of issues may be familiar to anyone who managed staff, used B2B services, or freelancers, but of course, these are clear clues that working together is going to be a disappointment.

Any provider worth considering should be able to make intelligent suggestions and provide a clear written proposal that addresses your priorities and concerns, before you decide whether to go ahead.

There should be a lot that you can glean just from two or more conversations with a potential provider, and their written follow up. Are they listening well and taking in what you say? Do they add value in each call? Are they highlighting potential challenges and proposing solutions or work-arounds? Do they help you to clarify your thoughts, and help you to see a clearer route forward?  Do they perform a reasonable amount of research after your first call and really apply some thought to your situation?

 

Why should you work with Customerwise?

“Really excellent”

“It was just brilliant”

“we’re genuinely very grateful”

(These are genuine – and typical-  comments from clients in B2B and professional services businesses who we’ve helped. References are available on request.)

Again, I recommend that you consider a number of options before deciding who to work with. But I do hope that you’ll call us and include Customerwise among the providers you speak to. Here are some of the main reasons you should give us a call (on 01392 984224)…

Personal oversight and account management from the Managing Director.

Every B2B Mystery Shopping project we undertake is managed personally by me, Paul Taylor, the Managing Director of Customerwise.

I have a genuine passion for customer service and creating great customer experiences. I also stay abreast of the latest thinking in sales, marketing, and psychology / behavioural science as these things relate to sales and marketing.

I believe that great customer experiences and effective, pro-active sales activity are not mutually exclusive, especially in B2B settings. I aim to help clients find ways to increase both customer satisfaction and sales (conversion ratios, average order values, etc.).

If you with us, I will aim to share valuable new insights and ideas with you, in addition to providing the reliable and robust feedback that you are seeking.

A solid B2B background

Most founders and directors of Mystery Shopping companies seem to have backgrounds in retail, hospitality or other B2C areas.

My background (for the last 20 years) is in B2B services, with many years of experience in selling, and providing, and indeed buying and using (as a company director) B2B and professional services.

 

Experience in advising and serving businesses in a wide variety of industries.

Customerwise has, since early 2016, helped B2B and B2C businesses in a wide range of industries. We’ve demonstrated an ability to rise creatively to new challenges.  Our work is consistently described in glowing terms including by clients in industries that we were completely new to.

However, my experience in advising many and varied businesses goes back much further.

A previous business, which I started in 2003 and grew steadily over 8 years, provided corporate immigration and other HR-related services to (by the time it was sold) over 120 retained corporate clients. Our work involved providing strategic and operational advice to HR decision makers, and representing our clients and their cases before the UK Border Agency. The work required versatility, efficiency and accuracy. But our ability to swiftly and clearly understand a wide variety of different business situations in different industries was also essential.

That experience and others since have tested and strengthened my general commercial acumen and wisdom.

Over the years, I’ve also purchased products and services from many different B2B and professional service providers and worked with the companies who’ve supplied those products and services.  I’ve had good some experiences.  I’ve also had some some disappointments and encountered incompetence.

So to summarise, I have a proven track record in advising and providing services to a wide variety of B2B businesses, and as an entrepreneur, employer and manager for many years I’ve been on the other side of the desk.

I’m committed to exceeding my clients’ expectations. I’m also committed to removing any risk, real or perceived.

I hope that what has been shared here includes enough reasons for you to get on the phone or send us an email.  Only you will decide whether they are, but that is certainly the first step and next step in finding out whether we might be able to help you, and how.

So please don’t hesitate. Call us on 01392 984224 or send an email to connect@customerwise.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Paul Taylor, Managing Director