According to the latest telephone mystery shopping research supplied to TTN by Encircle Marketing, the industry as a whole is slipping on key areas of customer service over the first four months of 2018.

Encircle conduct approximately 4,000 mystery shopping phone calls every month across a representative set of retailers and covering all channels of the market from Local and Regional Independents through to Car Dealers, Autocentres and National Fast Fits. Each call is scored on the same set of criteria with weights given to each element in order to steer performance on key measures.

Encircle then group these measures into the typical “journey of a call” to allow them to dissect the information and see where the garages are falling back.

For Accessibility, the market has scored close to 90% in each of the 4 months so far albeit with a 2% pt drop in April from 89.3% to 87.3% (scores out of 100% relate to the number of garages scoring perfectly on this category).

Information Gathering is a low scoring element for the market as a whole (scoring around 40%) and as with Accessibility, scores have dropped in April compared to earlier months. February saw a high of 44.9% and this fell to 35.6% in April.

A similar trend is seen with Appointment Setting. Here Encircle monitor not only the ability of a garage to book/ force an appointment but also the manner with which is was done (as a way to get the Caller off the phone and in, as a rounded sales approach or as an invitation to visit for example). Therefore, the garages must not only suggest popping down but must also check with the Caller that this is acceptable to them and is booked in at time which is appropriate.

Taking this 3-step approach, highlights a lack of consistency across the market to book appointments either at all or using the correct manner. February saw the high of 38% but again this dropped in April (and March) to 32.8%.

An area that appears to be better performing is Selling Performance (albeit better in comparison to other categories rather than excelling). Here the garage needs to offer a choice to the Caller and support this with buying argumentations and promotional offers (if any). Scores for this sector are in the high 50% sector and unlike the last 3 categories, have remained constant since January (actually very slightly up) at 56.7% compared to 56.5% in January.

After this positive news however, we must share the bad. Closing the Call fares the worse of all 6 categories under interrogation. Given this sector is how the Customer will feel at the end of the call, it’s crucial to leave a positive impression but it appears that Assistants stop somewhat after getting an appointment booked and pushing a promotion.

Closing the Call scored in April 21% which means only a 5th of garages are ensuring they offer directions to a Customer, repeat any agreements made to visit the site and thank the Customer for their call. Very sad, if true (which it is).

As seen with other categories, again April saw a dip in performance from a high in February of 25.7%.

An excuse for the markets performance can be due to Easter and high sales activity in store meaning something (like telephone service) had to give. In addition, these numbers are a market score and therefore it will hide some retailers/ channels who greatly exceed the norm and should be proud of what they do at a local or national level.