Why an In-Store Audit is Exactly What Your Business Needs

Better Product Placement

What is an In-Store Audit?

An in-store audit, sometimes referred to as a retail audit, store walk, or store inspection, is basically an assessment of your brand’s position and reputation in the marketplace. Whether you have a single store or multiple locations, in-store audits provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your displays, inventory, product placement, promotions, regulatory compliance, pricing, and more. 

In addition, these audits use a collection of accurate data to create checklists that retailers can use to identify problem areas in their store’s performance and implement corrective actions. The experience is also a learning opportunity for the head office representatives who gain insight into daily store operations. Keeping track of these insights allows managers to compare data over time and identify ways to reduce inefficiencies in their stores and improve their operations. 

Why Store Audits Are Important

As the retail market changes, so too should your business processes. However, you cannot grow and adapt without knowing exactly what is going on in your store. You need to stay on top of every aspect of your business operations as your sales channels grow and become more complex. 

The Benefits of an In-Store Audit

By performing and implementing a successful retail audit, you can maximise sales, increase market share, ensure stores managers follow your merchandising requirements, and optimise your customer experience in-store. A successful instore audit can also bring about the following benefits: 

  • Course-correcting – You can take into account a wider range of factors with an in-store audit than you could with just a financial audit. Instead of looking at only where money is lost, you can see why it is being lost. By highlighting these problem areas, you have the opportunity to implement new corrective strategies before they impact your bottom line even more. 
  • Improved Customer Attraction – You can use an in-store audit to ensure that your store is upholding certain operational standards and values. By having a comprehensive view of the operations of your store and employees, you will know where you have capacity to play around a bit with strategies, what is working and needs to stay the same, as well as what is not working and needs to be changed. This means you will have more freedom to experiment with marketing strategies that can help you attract new customers. 
  • Improved Customer Experience – A retail audit will allow you to analyse the customer journey and experience so you can make changes from there if need be. You can look at points like how long it takes for a customer to find what they need, the helpfulness of your staff, the cleanliness of your store, the effectiveness of your layout, and more. When you have insights into these factors and why they are or aren’t working, you can make corrections aimed at improving customer experience. 
  • Better Product Placement – Retailers cannot assume that they know and follow the best planograms. If your inventory sits in the storeroom or on a forgotten shelf, you have no chance of meeting your profit targets. Performing regular in-store audits ensures the best placement and display of your products.

A retail audit can have a number of benefits for your business. At Customer Perceptions, we have worked tirelessly to develop our strong track record that has spanned decades. Our cost effective auditing software and services can help you gain insight into your standards, policies, procedures, training, management and regulatory compliance (among others). Contact us today, or visit our website to learn more about our in-store audit solutions.

3 Reasons Why Customer Experience Increases Sales

3 Reasons Why Customer Experience Increases Sales

Do you remember a time when, from the second you walked into a store, you were greeted by friendly staff, a welcoming atmosphere, and the entire experience left you feeling great? You likely left the store with a huge smile on your face, itching to tell your friends and family about the amazing experience you had and thinking that you need to go back to that store. 

Now think back to when you had a terrible experience trying to buy something or order a service. The anger and frustration made your blood boil, and you swore to yourself that you would never use that business again. 

These two feelings show the importance of Customer Experience (CX). CX is the result of every interaction a customer has had with your business and the impression your brand leaves in their mind. The entire customer journey determines whether they will return to your business or not, which is why a customer-centric CX strategy is vital to the success of your business. 

This blog will discuss three reasons why customer experience is essential to your business success and how a positive CX will drive sales and increase your revenue. 

Customer Retention is More Profitable Than Generating New Customers

The business world has a lot of controversy regarding which is better, customer retention or acquisition. However, the fact of the matter is that customer acquisition, while rewarding, can be highly time-consuming and expensive. 

As a business, building loyalty and a positive association with a new customer takes time and money. In contrast, the costs associated with repeat business are considerably lower, from both a sales and a marketing standpoint. With repeat business, your ad spend is lower because you have already built a connection with these customers, so you have a better chance of making a sale. The book Marketing Metrics explains that the sales conversion rate for an existing customer sits at around 60 – 70%, whereas an entirely new prospect has a conversion rate of only 5-20%.

It is vital to build a CX strategy that is centred around long-term customer loyalty. Repeat customers are statistically far more likely to make a purchase when they visit your business. They are also generally willing to spend much more because they are satisfied with their customer experiences and know the level of quality and service they will receive. 

Customer Experience is Free Word-of-Mouth Marketing

The impression that your customers have of your business is now far more likely to be shared thanks to the help of social media platforms and the internet. If your customer experience is positive, loyal customers will become advocates for your business and share their experiences with others, helping attract new customers at no extra cost to you. When your customers share their positive experiences, it piques the curiosity of others, so people are encouraged to interact with your brand to see the top-notch service for themselves. 

While a negative online review can deter prospective customers, positive online reviews strengthen the online presence of your business, increasing the visibility of your brand and attracting new clientele.

A Better Customer Experience Sets Your Brand Apart from Your Competitors

When your business provides a customer experience that exceeds expectations, you take your customers on a journey that breeds an emotional connection and loyalty. You won’t need to ‘remind’ customers why they should use your services or buy your products because they will already know. 

A review conducted by SuperOffice determined that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for better customer service. So even if your competitors may have lower prices, if your customer experience surpasses theirs, customers will be more likely to use your business. When developing your CX strategy, consider rewards programs like coupons, free shipping offers, and lower prices for repeat customers, especially if your company operates in the e-commerce sector. It will set your brand apart and increase the positive perception of your business even more. 
Customer Experience is a foundational element of the success of your business. If you need assistance improving your strategy or are curious about how you can improve your customer experience, contact Customer Perceptions today or visit our website to view our list of expert services.

The Different Types of Mystery Shopping Explained


The use of a mystery shopping program in your business is a fantastic way to evaluate how your company operates, from customer service to employee performance. Also known as secret shopping, mystery shopping is a market research tool used to identify problem areas in your business and improve customer loyalty. 

A professional shopper (usually an independent contractor from a mystery shopping agency) will pretend to be an average customer and evaluate the quality of service they receive. The entire process is done anonymously by trained professionals, so no one will know who the mystery shopper is. Therefore, businesses will be provided with professional, unbiased feedback on whether their strategies are working and any problem areas so they can be rectified. 

In-Person Mystery Shops

In-person mystery shopping is the most common type of mystery shopping service used by businesses. As a part of this service, a mystery shopper will anonymously visit a business pretending to be a regular customer and evaluate the business performance and customer journey following a predetermined set of guidelines. 

With in-person mystery shopping, the goal is to conduct the evaluation without raising suspicion from the staff in order to obtain the most accurate information possible. If the staff aren’t aware that someone is evaluating them, they are more likely to act how they would on a daily basis. The secret shopper will have an all-around experience of the customer journey in your store. The visit can vary in length depending on the type of indicators, mystery shopping purpose, or the type of evaluated sphere. 

In-person mystery shopping is most commonly used by retail stores, the hospitality industry, restaurants, and financial institutions. 

Phone Call Mystery Shops

Next on the list is Phone Call Mystery Shopping. Just as audits of performance and customer experience should be conducted in-store, monitoring the telephonic performance of your employees is just as important. Phone Call Mystery Shopping is especially useful for companies that utilise call centres or where customers can receive service telephonically. 

The mystery shopper will call your company to assess the level of service they receive. During the call, the secret shopper will determine the following points (among others) to determine the performance of your business telephonically: 

  • Is it easy or difficult to contact your business?
  • How long did it take for the phone to be answered?
  • The employee’s greeting.
  • The employee’s competence and product knowledge.
  • The employee’s telephone manner and professionalism.
  • The employee’s willingness to help.
  • Whether the customer’s problem was solved on the call or not. 

Typical telephone mystery shops include everything from completing remote transactions to simply asking for additional information. Phone-based mystery shopping is most commonly used by businesses in the following industries: Hospitality, travel, call centres, communication, consulting, insurance, sales, financial services, communication, and healthcare. 

Website Mystery Shops

A strong online presence is crucial to the success of your business in the digital age. Most people carry their phones everywhere, search for businesses nearby, and look at online reviews that can either make or break your business image. In addition, the evolution of e-commerce and e-business has made mystery shopping just as important for online retailers as it is for on-site establishments. 

Website Mystery Shops, also known as virtual mystery shops or internet mystery shopping, see the secret shopper engage with your business online. The secret shopper will assess how responsive your business is online, whether your website is easy to navigate, your employee’s competencies and product knowledge, and how your employees interact with customers on social media and through the website. 

This type of mystery shopping is most commonly used by businesses in the following sectors: e-commerce, travel, insurance, automotive, real estate, and telecommunications. 

Hybrid Mystery Shops

Also referred to as multiple touchpoints or mixed-type mystery shopping, the hybrid service is typically used by larger businesses that need several mystery shopping evaluations. Using in-person, telephonic, and online mystery shoppers ensures you have accurate information and actionable insights into all aspects of your business. 

Hybrid mystery shopping is a fantastic way to assess the entire customer journey across all spheres of your business to better understand the customer’s overall experience from start to finish. 

The type of mystery shopping that best suits your business is dependent on your industry and business model, but if you need help choosing a mystery shopping service that offers the most benefit for your specific needs, contact Customer Perceptions today.

How Mystery Shopping Can Benefit Your Business

How mystery shopping can benefit your business

From the outside looking in, one may think that the more customers a company has, the higher its profits. However, this is not necessarily the case. Anyone with retail experience will tell you that building a network of loyal, repeat customers is the cornerstone to the success of your business. 

Suppose your customer service, staff performance, or customer experience is not up to par. In that case, customers won’t return to your business, word of mouth will spread, and you will eventually lose income. As a business owner or executive, rectifying any problem areas in how your business is run can only be done after the problems have been identified. This is where mystery shopping programs come in. 

Many businesses, especially in the retail and hospitality industries, aim to identify problem areas in their business performance by using mystery shopping agencies. Mystery shopping is a process whereby an independent person is hired, through an agency, to masquerade as a customer and perform an evaluation of your business to determine customer satisfaction and service quality. The hired mystery shopper will be an anonymous consumer and have no connection to you or any of your staff. This is to ensure that all reports remain unbiased. 

The mystery shoppers will visit your business and rate their experience in an unbiased, professional, and thorough manner. They will complete a detailed report of the entire customer journey to their superiors, who will share the information with you so you will be aware of how customers perceive your company’s service and their experience as a whole. 

Here are some of the benefits of hiring a mystery shopper to evaluate your business: 

Get Valuable Feedback from a Customer’s Perspective

Mystery shoppers are trained professionals, so when they visit your business as a customer, they will take note of every aspect of the customer journey from start to finish. No matter how big or small an issue may be, it will be noted. This is a lot more effective than waiting for reports from your management or waiting until an actual customer brings forward a complaint. 

This attention to detail and knowledge of the retail sector will help your business pinpoint specific areas for improvement that may have been flying under the radar. When you know how your customer experience, satisfaction, and brand perception are seen from a customer’s point of view, you can make the necessary changes to improve customer retention. Not only can this improve your customer loyalty, but the improvement in your business image can attract new customers.  

Gives You Insight Into Staff Performance and Internal Procedures

Even if your employees are fully proficient in the business’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), sometimes the top-down approach to company standards and procedures still doesn’t have the desired effect at a store level. Even if your management department provides reports on business operations and staff behaviour, personal biases may hinder their ability to see problem areas (whether intentional or not).

The unbiased perspective of a professional shopper can provide you with actionable insights into your employee integrity and whether your operational procedures are working. Not only will this show you areas where further training or action may be needed, but the mystery shopper can also give you the following valuable insights: 

  • Are your current operational procedures working at a store level?
  • How do your employees handle customer complaints?
  • Are your sales representatives selling actively or passively?
  • Does your staff have relevant product knowledge?
  • Did your team acknowledge the customer when they walked in? (Smiling, greeting, or offering help; Or was the customer ignored?) 
  • Are employees presentable and abiding by the company dress code, if there is one?
  • How do employees act when there isn’t a manager around? 
  • Are legal requirements and professional standards being met?
  • Are your staff members on their cellphones in front of customers? 
  • Suggestions and recommendations for improvement. 

Valuable Research into Your Competitors 

Competitiveness is rife in the retail industry. If you know how your competition performs, what they’re doing, their business values, how they treat their customers, or how their layout works, you can see where you rank in comparison and how to improve. This will provide you with the competitive advantage your store may need to provide better customer service and put your store steps above your competitors. 

Mystery shopping combines qualitative and quantitative market research, using professionals trained to evaluate an experience in a storefront environment. This doesn’t just help businesses like retail stores, but any company that offers some level of customer service. Contact Customer Perceptions today if you are located in Ireland or the UK and want to know more about mystery shopping or other ways you can improve your business performance.

Interview with our MD – Emma Harte

Interview with our Managing Director – Emma Harte 


Emma Harte has been involved with the Customer Perceptions and Optimum Results teams for almost 20 years. Emma is the backbone of these teams leading by example to hit KPI’s, targets and achieve the business goals. Discover what challenges Emma had to face through her long journey with the company through recessions and pandemics while coming out more resilient on the other side. Have a look at some of the questions thrown to Emma.


How would you describe your role?

Emma considers herself a “jack of all trades” within the business as she has experience in almost every role in the business throughout her 20-year career. However, in the later years of her career leading and supporting the management team while looking after the strategic direction of both companies. This will also be the case moving forward.

The experience and drive displayed by Emma is visible in day to day operations. Spearheading the business strategy forward for both Customer Perceptions and Optimum Results.


What do You Enjoy Most About This Job?

There is no doubt Emma is definitely a people person. She proved it by answering this question almost immediately that “without a doubt it’s the people”. This wasn’t just attributed to staff on the team but to clients, assessors and trainers. Due to the diverse nature of the business you could end up dealing with any industry and definitely meet people from all walks of life. It certainly brings a variety of different challenges and dynamics that the whole company enjoys.


What is the most challenging project your team has worked on & Why?

During the early part of Emma’s career, the shopper base was small with only 200-250 shoppers and she claims she was related to about half of them. However, as bigger clients started to come on board for mystery shopping she had to grow that base up to the thousands in order to meet their needs. That was a huge challenge for organising the trainings and finding the right systems to facilitate the change.

In recent years the most difficult challenge has been the shift from shifting the majority of our focus from the customer experience to shop audits. It involved increased training to “elite shoppers” who are our most experienced and talented mystery shoppers.


What is the most unusual project the team has ever worked on?

Over the years there has certainly been a few unusual projects tossed our way. They are always very interesting for the whole team to work on. The one that stood out to Emma was for an eye laser treatment. The candidates all had to be over forty, have no heart condition and have a stigmatism in one eye on a national scale. Funeral homes also got a special mention, as it involved hiring assessors to go in and measure how understanding and empathetic they were.


What has been the biggest challenge to Customer Perceptions in this Covid era?

There is no doubt the company has overcome many challenges in its’ existence. Even staying afloat was a major concern during this period of time. According to Emma, “the most daunting 48 hours was back in March when almost 90% of our projects paused.   It was frightening at the time but thankfully we have maintained really good relationships with our clients and stayed in touch. We did a lot of customer sentiment surveys with our base which provided really good insights into how they were feeling and what our clients could do to offer them something. That was certainly the biggest challenge. Thankfully month on month we are back to where we were.”


What advice would you have for clients or business owners who want to improve their level of customer satisfaction?

Every business should want to improve their customer satisfaction, there is no doubt it is a crucial aspect of any business. If you don’t have satisfied customers, then soon you won’t have any customers. When you don’t have any customers soon you won’t have a business at all just an idea. Emma says that there is nothing to be afraid of. All of our mystery shoppers are trained in Covid compliance and regulations. Our shoppers will comply with the outlets regulations. If a business has customers there is no reason they shouldn’t have a mystery shop. Especially as it has been such a long period without measuring your customer experience. It is so important to get back to those standards operating procedures and experience. From experience we find that issues that get measured tend to be resolved.


What does 2022 hold for Customer Perceptions?

Emma has always been ambitious and we can see this from her goal for 2022. The goal is growth, growth and more growth. Particularly in hospitality alongside food and beverage. The sector has seen a huge incline in the last quarter. Hopefully it will get back to normal and that area will keep improving. The aim is to also increase the shopper base. We need to extend our base to ensure we have every different variety of shopper available for any and every business need.


What excites you most about 2022?

I am sure the thoughts of 2022 probably excites a lot of people in terms of getting everything back to normal. Emma is excited about the development of the TellUsFirst service which is an instant customer feedback platform. It is a cost-effective method for a business to get both positive and negative customer feedbacks. We are also launching an online TelIUsFirst plugin that is available for companies to use on their website.  The plugin will give you instant feedback and measure your customer experience for you online store. Especially now that having an online store or presence is a must.


How do you balance being the head of two companies?

Even though the staff are “split” between two different companies, we very much operate as one team here and utilise everyone’s’ expertise to drive the best results across all of our sectors. Thankfully, Emma also sees it that way. “I don’t really look at it as two companies anymore. Maybe in the early days I did. I very much see us as one team. We offer two very complimentary aspects to the business. We have the training consultancy on one side (Optimum Results) and the customer experience on the other (Customer Perceptions). The research from Customer Perceptions identifies the gaps while the training and consultancy (Optimum Results) plugs the gaps.” The team here enjoy providing a complete service for your business needs and providing you with the tools for success. 

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Benefits of Visual Merchandising for your Business

Shop window displays

Benefits of Visual Merchandising 


Visual Merchandising is at the core of a successful retail outlet. It is the first form of selling and featuring your brand image, expressing your brand story and enhancing brand loyalty. It is a marketing practice which makes use of some of your stores key elements to attract customers attention which leads to more footfall and therefore increasing sales. These key elements can include window displays, floor plans, colour, lighting and instore displays. The main purpose of visual merchandising is to attract customers in-store with the use of striking window displays, then to maintain an engaging customer experience with in-store displays and layouts to encourage a transaction. Or even better yet, a good visual merchandising programme can convince your visitors to be loyal and returning customers. If visual merchandising is implemented correctly with creativity, imagination and expression, each retailer will reap the benefits. It truly is an exceptional investment for all shop owners.

So lets look into how Hestia can help retailers get the most out of their retail merchandising;


Visual merchandising has the power to express your brand identity. A positive visual merchandising experience is formulated using many elements such as:

  • Appearance of your store front
  • Staff uniforms
  • Lighting
  • Menus
  • Outdoor and instore signage
  • Colour
  • Point of sales material
  • Textures
  • Shapes
  • Ticketing
  • Packaging


When these elements are combined, it allows a customer to understand your brand better which then leads to a positive shopping experience and increases the number of transactions. As a retailer, knowing how to utilise all these tools to communicate your brand image, will in turn help you stand out amongst your competitors, attract more customers and expand your success.



Increase Sales and Footfall

Your storefront and window display is the first and last opportunity to convert that passer-by into a customer. Having a visually pleasing storefront and a powerful window display will entice the customer in store who may have not already intended to enter. This is so important in helping a business increase its customer base and footfall – catch a customers eye and draw them inside!

Once your storefront has enticed that customer inside, this needs to be followed by a simple but effective floor layout with striking instore displays to complement your products, brand image and window displays.

Your displays need to be engaging and innovative enough to impact a customer’s purchase decision. A powerful and impactful visual merchandising will result in the customer having a positive experience and making a purchase/additional purchases which ultimately increase your sales and revenue.


Enhancing the Shopping Experience

Retailers can often forget that visual merchandising is not just about creating visual and enticing instore and window displays, other senses can also be triggered to create an unforgettable instore experience. By creating a multi-sensory shopping experience, you can engage with your customers on an emotional level which is instantly recognisable to your store. You can do this through the following;


Playing appropriate music for your target market, the correct music can dictate your customers mood. Music undoubtedly will add ambience; however, it is wise to consider which music suits the style of merchandise and the customer. It is also advisable to check that the lyrics are not offensive.


The scent is the strongest memory and emotion controller compared to other senses – global brands use the art of scent marketing to entice customers to choose their products. Aromas and scents will stimulate the senses of shoppers. Atmospheric aromas can also be introduced to an area that warrants them and can help to promote a product. Scented candles displayed in an aromatic environment will boost sales. Smells relate to memory and emotion and can trigger feelings which is therefore a strong tool to work with in stores. By having a nice scent throughout the store it puts the customer at ease , improves their mood which may result in a sale.


For retail stores to stay competitive in this e-commerce world, proactive visual merchandising has undoubtedly become of key importance. Retail stores need to understand that the bulk of their sales are generated from impulse purchases. Therefore, a perfect visual merchandise strategy can be the difference between a highly profitable retail store destined for continued growth, or one which has become stagnant. With all the responsibilities of everyday work in retail, it is easy to get lost and forget the core purpose of visual merchandising. We can go on autopilot, forgetting to make improvements and often forgetting to remind ourselves why we do what we do.


Contact us today on 042-9339911 to speak to one of our expert Visual Merchandisers to discuss a package to suit you and your business requirements, or email on info@customerperceptions.ie.

Hello Hospitality: Trends for 2021

Hospitality Trends 2021

As restrictions continue to ease for the hospitality sector, we at Customer Perceptions felt it was an opportune time to conduct a survey across our nationwide base of consumers. We wanted to determine consumers’ opinion on ‘Staycations’ (Yes, we also don’t like that word) and what their intentions were in utilising the Hospitality sector. We have discovered some interesting hospitality trends for 2021.

The data and results uncovered were engrossingly insightful. Overall, the survey affirmed that the past 18 months have had an impact on consumers’ intentions of holidaying in the future and when they intend in returning to the Hospitality sector.

Where are people holidaying?

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents were keen to holiday this year. Not exactly breaking news that people enjoy holidays. The surprise was the willingness to trade in sun holidays and travel agents for staycations this year. In fact, 87.2% of respondents are hoping to holiday in Ireland. Of the 12.8% of respondents that are not holidaying in Ireland this year, the main reason was the price of staying in Ireland, or that they were planning on travelling abroad.

Would you consider holidaying abroad in 2021?

With the updates on Covid Certs, Green Lists and a slow opening of foreign travel, we examined how respondents would feel about holidaying further abroad this year to a foreign destination. Almost 40% of respondents said “No” that they would not be travelling abroad this year. The remainder were more open to this, with some citing Yes, but only if certain criteria was filled. 35% were happy to travel abroad if the restrictions were eased, travel was permitted and they were vaccinated. 9% of respondents were happy to travel if restrictions were eased and travel was permitted. However, only 4% of respondents were happy to travel abroad regardless of vaccine status or restrictions.

Uncertainty is a big part in the reason people are wary of travelling outside of Ireland. It is important to realise that restrictions could change on a whim if your holiday destination has a spike that moves it from the Green list to the Red list. Evidently the global vaccine rollout reduces the possibility of rapid circumstance changes. This will potentially alleviate some peoples fear of travelling. This could lead to a shift in the hospitality trends coming into 2022.

Biggest Hospitality Trends for Travelling In Ireland

The number one factor when deciding where to travel to in Ireland is the price. Followed by the location and journey time. Only 22 respondents determined destination popularity to impact their decision on where to travel in Ireland. The majority of people in Ireland would usually stay in a hotel with 196 respondents typically staying in a hotel. Compared to the second highest (101 respondents) choice of Self-Catering. Bed & Breakfasts were third most popular but with another large drop in popularity with only 43 people opting to stay if given a choice.

Even though destination popularity isn’t likely to influence destination choice, the location of the hotel is the most important factor for when choosing where to stay for the desired destination. However, when asked about why they stay in a particular hotel or B&B comfort was the number one option.

Hotel Statistics In Covid-19

48% of our respondents have stayed in a Hotel since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Customers had an even split on whether Covid-19 restrictions had impacted their stay. 31.5% felt that the restrictions had a positive impact on their stay opposed to 34.3% of respondents found it negative. The remaining 34.3% felt the restrictions had no impact on their hotel stay. A surprising 48.7% of respondents said they would regularly write an online review for accommodation, restaurants and pubs after a visit.

21.6% of the respondents said they would visit a pub monthly this year while 15% would visit weekly. Another 12.5% intended to visit the pub at least once every two weeks. One of the main factors impacting dining habits of our respondents is that they did not want to eat outdoors. 63.4% of people were satisfied with the restrictions of 6 people per table. Although the respondents were far more likely to go to a restaurant than a pub. 19% intended to visit a restaurant weekly while another 19% intended to go every two weeks. However, 38.1% planned on visiting a restaurant monthly.

Impacts on the Hospitality Sector in Ireland

The tourism in Ireland has plummeted with travel restrictions and quarantines putting international tourists off travelling. However, in the same vein Irish tourists have decided to explore the beauties of Ireland opposed to jetting off to Lanzarote to get a tan. Inevitably international tourism will see a rapid rise in the near future as restrictions continue to ease. However, having a positive experience holidaying in Ireland may see an increase in Irish residents holidaying within the country. Hospitality trends for 2021 look positive for internal travel across Ireland.

Combine this with fact that destination popularity isn’t an important factor in the majority of respondents’ decision making process. This could see quiet areas of rural Ireland receiving a boost in the hospitality sector if the act of going on a “staycation” remains popular after all travel restrictions are lifted.

We specialise in enhancing the customer experience across multiple sectors. You can view our solutions to improve your business. If you have any questions or need advice on improving customer retention rates contact us and we will be happy to help. If you require any staff training or upskilling our training programmes are available both online and in person courses.

Mystery Shopping the User Experience

Mystery Shopping the User Experience

By – Lynn Carr, Project Manager

The User Experience or UX as it is commonly known, is defined as the overall experience of a person using a website or app, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use. In the ever-changing business landscape, the continued growth of e-commerce has transformed customer’s expectations of websites and apps. While most companies feel that their website looks the part, the question remains… does it act the part? Often, companies spend considerable time creating, designing, and maintaining their websites but not much time testing it from a user’s perspective.

Mystery Shopping the User Experience involves assessing and evaluating the experience of engaging with your website from your customer’s or user’s perspective. It evaluates everything from your website/app’s usability, effectiveness, customer service standards and general customer or user experience.

Online or User Experience Mystery Shops can be used in many ways to gain better insight into the effectiveness and usability of your website. The nature and objective of User Experience Mystery Shopping may vary. User Experience Mystery Shops can be conducted in a variety of different ways. The mystery shopper may simply explore and assess the website in detail, navigating its various features, pages, and functions. They may engage with contact forms, email addresses, live chats and associated social media accounts. Furthermore, they may purchase an item online, assessing the payment process, delivery timelines and even the returns procedure and experience. These elements of UX can be assessed individually or altogether, to provide a holistic view of the User Experience.

Online or UX Mystery Shopping can answer the following questions:

  • Is your website easily located via search engine?
  • Can customers easily find what they are looking for on your website?
  • Is the user experience negatively affected by the device customers use?
  • Does user experience vary drastically depending on whether they use a browser or your app?
  • Why might potential customers choose to shop online on your competitor’s sites over yours?
  • How responsive are your staff via live chat / email / social media?
  • What is the quality of customer service provided via your online platforms?
  • How easy is the process of making a purchase/order on your website?
  • How efficient is your order fulfilment and returns process?
  • How do customers rate your overall User Experience?

Whether User Experience Mystery Shopping is conducted its own or combined with a wider programme, such as analyzing the User Experience of your competitors and/or physical on-site Mystery Shopping, it has a multitude of benefits, including being a cost-effective method of monitoring and measuring website/online platform performance, identifying website improvements and sales opportunities, and providing insight and analysis into your competitors.

The above questions are tackled by Mystery Shopping the User Experience to give companies insight into what frustrations their online customers experience and also, where they are exceeding expectations and outperforming competitors. By Mystery Shopping the User Experience, you can ensure that your customers enjoy a professional, user-friendly, efficient, and welcoming online environment, as well as memorable online customer service.

One Million Mystery Shops

1,000,000 Mystery Shops

By – Susan Reilly, Head of Sales and Marketing


Customer Perceptions, having been in existence for almost a quarter of a century now, have completed over one million customer satisfaction/feedback assessments in this time.

What does having one million pieces of feedback mean? It means we can pull together some fairly robust statistics as to exactly what your customer wants.

One thing for sure is, times have changed, whilst 10 years ago, the primary focus for customers was a “good price”, this has dramatically changed since. Customers are now much more complex when it comes to the decisions they make. Below you will find the key drivers resulting in higher satisfaction levels and ultimately higher spend and likelihood for repeat business.

1.) Feelings.
It might be unusual that we talk about feelings when it comes to your customer, however feelings matter. Fact! Customers want to feel loved, to feel wanted, to feel important, to feel valued. Take a minute to make your customer “feel” special. The more feelings a customer can attach to a store, the more memorable the event, hence the more likely they are to return.

2.) Time.
Time is key to customers, and everybody has less and less each day. Nobody wants to “waste” time. Queues are the single most annoyance when it comes to shopping. A queue will deter a customer before they even fully step into your store. You have no chance if your stores have long queues. We need to be ahead of the game, ensuring we are utilising every tool in our reach to minimise the time spent queuing and waiting. Efficiency is key.

3.) Knowledge.
Customers hate bluffers. They can spot them a mile off. Don’t put staff in front of customers if you have not trained them in fully on the products. This does your reputation considerable damage. Staff need to be confident in what they are selling, and also need to be confident in saying “I don’t know, but let me get the answer for you”.

4.) Promises.
Empty promises are a pet peeve for customers. Don’t tell your customer that you will give them a call in 2 days time if you have no intention of doing so. If you commit to something, you must deliver. Have a robust system for recording when following up calls must be made and stick to it. The system should be transparent so any staff member can pick up the calls if needed.

5.) Answer Me!
How many times have you felt like screaming this down the phone, or to your laptop screen when you just want somebody to answer your question. Customers want to talk to you, and they want to talk to you through a variety of channels. Keep the lines of communication open at all times. If you have a phone number listed on your website, then answer the call when it comes through. If you have an email address listed on your website, then answer the email when it comes through. If you have a facebook page, then answer your messages….. see where I am going with this? If you list a channel for your customers to communicate with you, then you absolutely must have this channel manned in a timely manner, i.e. within a 24 hour period max.

Make sure to follow our Linked In page, and check out our blog section on our website regularly as we will be telling you exactly how to achieve each of these points in much more detail.

Our first tutorial on making the Customer FEEL good, is coming soon…………….

You name it, we can do it!

Family at the restaurant

By – Megan Clarke, Client Account Manager.


Mystery shopping can offer an endless range of unimaginable insights.  So, before you come to the conclusion that mystery shopping provides limited information, let’s take a look at some of the more unique projects we have carried out.

Aside from the more regular convenience store visits, hotel stays and finance calls, we have an array of past projects that we are sure will intrigue you.

We have sent the underaged demographic to shops to buy cigarettes to see if staff are checking for ID and we have sent people to funeral homes pretending they have had a bereavement to assess the empathy of staff.   Some have been sent to visit the cliffs, some have made video consultations with the doctor for the contraceptive pill, cold/flu and back pain.   We have assessed photo machines in shopping centres, assessed charity collectors on the street and even travelled on the ferry to price the products on the boat.   To make things even MORE exciting, we have challenged people to the adventure rooms and got them to break the rules, sent them on thrilling theme park rides and sightseeing adventures across land and sea.

Not only can the scenarios be wonderfully weird but the profile of the lucky individual undertaking the assessment can be requested and we will make it our mission to meet the specifics.  We have sent ladies with a bigger bust to lingerie stores to try on bras and to get seriously specific, we have used a shopper over 50 with a stigmatism in one eye, no history of heart disease and a prescription more than plus 5 on their lens to test an optician.

We are always willing to take on new challenges, things we have never done before in an aim to provide our clients with the essential information they need to grow and strive.

Need more information? Click HERE