Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ghost Customers: What exactly are they... and why should you be aware of them?

You may have heard the term “ghost customers” before, but what exactly does this term mean? To put it simply, a ghost customer is equivalent to a ‘mystery shopper’. These hired, anonymous shoppers essentially visit businesses (both in person and online), acting like interested customers, who then report back with ratings of customer service and experiences with the business. In order to properly judge their thoughts on a company’s customer service, they often frequent the store, visiting a business multiple times. These ghost customers are used in nearly every marketplace the question is, are they present in the RV industry?

The answer is, without a doubt, yes. A growing company, Pied Piper uses a unique and patented process to evaluate a business’ prospect satisfaction, and has focused many of their studies on the automobile, powersports, and RV industries. Industry-leading publications like RV Business have featured the company in their publications, explaining the business’ goal of conducting long-term studies using thousands of mystery shoppers. Their strategy analyzes countless dealerships across the U.S., looking especially closely at these ghost shoppers’ customer service experiences.

Pied Piper’s president and CEO, Fran O’Hagan, warns that online customer service is becoming more and more important in motorized vehicle industries. According to O’Hagan, since the majority of buyers’ research and information gathering happens online, the number of visits a customer makes to a dealership before making a purchase is dropping nearly twofold. Recently, the majority of studies have found that an average of 4+ visits before a purchase has dropped to 2 or less in 2017. O’Hagan went on to explain that the most successful dealerships combine a number of customer service approaches, but all tend to respond relatively quickly to customer inquiries that come through various online portals. Examples of some of these portals may include a dealer’s website, social media profiles, or RV Trader listings.

What’s the point?

At the end of the day, two things are important to remember. First, since ghost and mystery shoppers are just that - a mystery - they are virtually impossible to target, and you can pretty much say goodbye to trying to figure out who they are. Our advice? Treat every single customer like they are a ghost shopper sent by satisfaction ranking companies, and give them your all when it comes to service and commitment to quality. This may seem like common sense, but rather than reminding yourself to “do the best you can” every day, approach each customer like they are the ones who are going to determine your ultimate customer ranking for this year.

Second, but just as important, is to remember to give as much attention to your customer service online as you do to those people who walk through the doors of your dealership each day. You wouldn’t wait hours or days to respond to an inquiry from a potential buyer on the phone, or in person, so why would you do that to prospects online? Check your TraderTraxx platform daily, and make it a habit to field questions and answer inquiries. Check-in with your social media platforms as often as you can, as many buyers can and will find you through shared listings and posts by friends.

Above all, though the idea behind ghost customers can be intimidating, don’t let their presence make you uneasy. These essential and helpful customer service ‘surveyors’ can help keep your business and staff on its toes, hopefully ending in even better customer service each day than the day before.

Trader Online Web Developer

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