As a retail owner, Kathy Doering understood the importance of customer service, not only with regard to customer loyalty, but also to revenue and increased sales. She realized that employees provided excellent customer service while they were present, and wondered if the same service levels were provided when she wasn't. To answer this question, a basic mystery shopping program was implemented to visit her business and evaluate the service provided. The information gained was invaluable. Realizing that this service would benefit companies in every industry, Ann Michaels & Associates was conceptualized.
The company started its operations in 1998 serving companies throughout the Midwest. The process was slow at the time – the company relied on paper and fax to complete shops. Surveys and training materials were originally mailed to mystery shoppers. At times they could be sent via fax or email, but that was rare. Mystery shoppers would conduct shops and complete handwritten reports. These reports were sent to Ann Michaels & Associates via fax or mail, at which time Account Managers needed to convert the handwritten reports into a typed format. The reports were compiled, printed, and mailed to the clients each week. While providing excellent, objective information, turnaround time was lacking. The importance of acting on issues that were in need of quick improvement was noted, and alternatives to this current system were investigated.
More and more companies understood the importance of objectively measuring service levels and employee performance, it was apparent that a broader view was needed to truly assist companies in improving the customer experience. Ann Michaels & Associates surveyed clients to better understand their needs and realized that while mystery shopping provides an objective snapshot of customer service, another viewpoint was needed for the big picture.
Customer feedback programs were the obvious solution. Taking the objective information gleaned from mystery shopping and coupling that with the more subjective voice of the customer, owners and managers were able to see their business from all aspects. The service was originally offered as a web based program in early 2006, and has expanded to offer web based and toll-free telephone based feedback programs throughout 2007.
Finally, Ann Michaels & Associates again expanded their services to allow companies a true 360 degree view of their business by implementing employee surveys. These surveys were similar to the customer feedback in that they were anonymous and could be implemented on a web based or toll free telephone format, but they allowed management to survey their employees to pinpoint potential morale issues and gather feedback for improvement.
This wide range of services has led to great success for Ann Michaels & Associates’ clientele and has positioned Ann Michaels & Associates as a customer service solution based company.
Every time I see a LifeLock commercial, I think about our mystery shopping and customer feedback programs. There is one line that stands out:
“I’m not a security guard. I’m a security monitor. I only notify people if there’s a robbery…”
And their tag line: Why monitor a problem if you’re not going to fix it?