If you're the manager or owner of a retail company, you'll know how important the customer-facing role of a shop assistant can be. When it comes to your customers, interaction with your staff could make or break their first impression of your business - and a good first impression could secure future visits.
In any business, building meaningful relationships with clients is what will set you apart from your competitors and enable you to deliver a memorable service. But when that service is memorable for all the wrong reasons, that impact on your customer could be detrimental to the success of your business as a whole.
The saying goes: a customer who has had a good experience will tell one person, whereas a customer who's had a bad one will tell ten. This may be a generalisation, but there is truth behind the statement. The power of reputation is undeniable, and with complaint platforms more accessible than ever, yours could make or break your business.
If you have multiple staff in your employ, it may be difficult for you to keep track of how they are all performing - especially if you own multiple retail outlets. Even with a manager in house, you can't always trust someone else to share your personal vision of how your company should deliver customer service.
This is why many business owners and managers enlist the help of so-called 'mystery shoppers' to allow them to see how their employees perform when they are not around. A mystery shopper can provide you with a full report of their experience as a 'customer' in your retail outlet, as well as the performance of individual employees.
Mystery shopping services are also delivered by private investigators that will go above and beyond to provide you with proof of their experience in store. This may come in the form of photographic or DVD evidence, or both, along with a comprehensive written report of their findings.
The reason many professional business owners opt for private investigators to keep an eye on their staff is that they are highly experienced in covert surveillance, so are discreet and will appear natural. They are also able to offer high-tech equipment, which will provide you with watertight evidence of your employees' behavior.
The service can prove especially useful if you suspect an employee of breaking the terms of their contract or of stealing from the business. A personal investigator could provide you with enough evidence to follow through with disciplinary action.
Mystery shopping can also be incredibly valuable for staff training, showing your retail environment in action. You will be able to help employees to see where they are excelling in their performance, and where they may need to improve.
Some private investigators can also conduct test purchases on behalf of business owners to establish evidence of brand infringement or the sale of counterfeit goods. Many PIs perform these services at trade shows, markets and retail outlets in order to obtain evidence of wrongdoing.
If you're interested in enlisting the help of a private investigator, start by searching online to find a private detective agency in your area. You will need to make sure that the company offers some sort of mystery shopping service, so call to speak to an adviser if you can't see this service listed on their website.