Welcome to our latest edition of Realise Quarterly News.

For many of you, the Christmas trade is well and truly underway with increased customer traffic through stores and online with high expectations for revenue over the coming months.

We're all aware that good old fashioned customer service is an all-important ingredient in keeping your customers happy. But did you know that the friendliness of a business (or lack thereof) has an enormous impact on overall customer service experience?  Friendliness is an increasingly important part of customer service, especially in a digital world where some  businesses are only able to connect with customers on an interpersonal level either over the phone, via e-mail, or on live chat. 

Now more than ever is your opportunity to impress and win your customers, so in this issue we are all about remaining friendly across all your customer touchpoints.

From all of us at The Realise Group we wish you a happy (and friendly!) holiday season. 

Katie Miles, Managing Director

How Friendly Is Your Business?

New Australian-first research commissioned by Customer Service Institute of Australia (CSIA) reveals a generational shift in Australians’ customer service satisfaction, with grumpy old men a disappearing stereotype, replaced by unhappy young couples. 

Australians over the age of 65 were much more positive (92%) about the level of friendly customer service they receive from Australia’s major companies, while young childless couples had the highest levels of dissatisfaction.

Customer Service Institute of Australia CEO, Anouche Newman, said that generational shift in satisfaction comes down to the fact that Australian businesses are struggling to deliver authentic and friendly customer service across all channels of communication.  

“The issue is that few businesses are providing a genuinely holistic approach to customer service and are not delivering the same quality of friendliness when they connect with consumers online. Australian businesses need to make the customer experience friendlier across all channels to connect and engage with customers of all ages, " says Anouche.

Friendly graph 1.jpg

2016 CSIA Friendly Awards

With the CSIA finding the impact of friendliness on the overall customer service experience, it seemed only fitting to award the businesses doing it best. 

For the first time in the CSIA Annual Service Excellence Awards history, the new Friendly Awards was up for grabs. The brand new category is based on consumer's experience with Australia's leading brands. 

The Realise Group were invited to be a part of the judging panel of this innovative new award.

Where there wasn¹t a clear winner based on public voting, finalists were independently and objectively mystery shopped by The Realise Group, to determine category winners. Part two of the judging was developed to distinguish between the top two finalists for each category. The Realise Group custom designed a mystery shop survey to evaluate the objective elements that define ‘friendliness’ in customer service. A survey was designed for each channel, including face to face interactions, phone interactions and click to chat/email interactions. Each brand received multiple evaluations across a random selection of channels and/or locations with the results aggregated to provide an overall score per brand.

Our very own Kate Gorman, National Account Director, presented The Friendly Awards at the inaugural event held at Crown Palladium last month (pictured above).

Congratulations to ALL of the winners of the CSIA Awards 2016.

THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION  Interview with Kate Gorman and the ARA.

The digital revolution is re-shaping the mystery shopping sector and what it can do for retailers.

Mystery shopping has been used by retailers for decades to gauge staff performance, adherence to training, and provide objective feedback – but with the increasing influence of technology, is it still relevant? 

Kate Gorman, National Account Director at The Realise Group, was recently interviewed by the Australian Retailers Association on the impact of the digital revolution on the Australian retail landscape.

According to Ms Gorman, there will always be a place for mystery shopping in the Australian retail landscape, particularly for large multi-site retailers, however, technology is adding new layers to the medium.

“Technology has really changed mystery shopping in terms of the speed, data accuracy, and the insights you can get,” she says.

A common misconception is that mystery shopping is a measure of customer feedback, however, traditionally, the primary purpose of mystery shopping is to gather objective feedback on how frontline staff are delivering on the brand standards they are trained for.

It’s used to collect information to identify training needs within the business, however, new methodologies are changing the old scope of mystery shopping to include a stronger focus on customer feedback.

“Although we’re a little bit behind, in the US and UK mystery shopping is no longer just about what staff are doing – it’s about understanding what customers think and if training standards are aligned to the things that are important to the customer."

SPECIAL REPORT: The BIG Guide to Christmas Shoppers 2016 

Companies far and wide are already feverishly preparing for Christmas shoppers.

Field Agent is proud to present an essential, one-of-a-kind resource to help brands and retailers prepare for the 2016 Christmas shopping season.

Based on surveys with almost 3,000 shoppers across seven countries, Field Agent’s Big Honkin’, Tree Toppin’, Globe Trottin’ GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS 2016 is packed with pivotal insights into the attitudes and behaviors of holiday shoppers around the world.

This free report, Field Agent’s largest to date, explores a variety of topics, including: 

  • Top retail destinations for Christmas gifts, groceries, and online purchases

  • Most common gift wishes among men and women, boys and girls

  • Product categories poised for a strong Christmas season

  • Roles of online shopping and digital, omnichannel services in Christmas shopping

As a bonus, the Guide to Christmas Shoppers 2016 includes The Brand Manager's Guide to Q4 Retail Execution, which describes concrete solutions to six in-store challenges faced by many FMCG companies.

Make it a Christmas season to remember. Download the guide today.