While most mystery shopping companies and job boards are legitimate, you must be always aware and alert about scams in this area.
I would like to share a scam incident that happened to me a year ago. I received a cashier’s check of $1740 from Bloomington Crane Inc, Indianapolis (as shown in the picture). The cashier’s check seemed to be from Selco Community Credit Union ( as shown in the picture) and my instructions were that I had to buy 3 green dot moneypak refills of $500 each which would be a total of $ 1500 and I could keep $200 as my shop fee. I was happy and stunned at the same time. $200 was a big amount for the kind of shop that I had to conduct as against so many shops that I conducted or would see on the job listing. Also, till I don’t encash the check, it is a big amount to invest and what if my shop gets rejected for some reason.
So, I decided to wait until the check gets cleared, as I had some time with me before I had to submit the shop. I put the check for clearance and within about an hour, I got a call from the bank, that the check is a counterfeit check and I had to pay $12 for putting in a counterfeit check. The bank officials were nice, they realized I didn’t know and helped me to lodge a complaint.
So, beware of these kinds of big amount checks that may turn out to be counterfeit checks and check thoroughly before depositing them in your account.
There have many instances of money transfer shops like the western union and money gram where fake checks are issued to the shoppers, that have been posted on mystery shopping forums and blogs.
It was a real pleasure to have been working with Jersey Business with a Group of 8 local business during a period of 3 weeks’ workshop and help them understand their research needs and how to develop a market research campaign.
Market research is an essential tool for any start-up or growing business because it will give you knowledge about your customers and your market that will enable your business to offer products and services that people are likely to buy. Effective market research will give you an understanding of whether or not there is a big enough market for your business as well as deeper insights into your customers’ preferences, buying patterns, your competition as well as shifts your industry and the economy.
Market research isn’t just for the start-up phase but should be part of developing your ongoing strategy so that you can make informed choices about your products or services and how you market these to your customers.
These steps will guide you through the process of conducting effective market research.
This guide was put together during Customer Service Week 2017 for a presentation in partnership with Jersey Business.
Here are the 7 steps to follow to conducting a Market research effectively:
STEP 1: DEFINE THE BRIEF AND THE OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
Start with the end in mind. The research brief should identify the aims and objectives that the research is to accomplish.
set SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely)
define the target audience (e.g. client database, representative sample of Jersey consumers, or a more specific target audience)
set a guideline budget, as this will influence the chosen methodology & sample size
STEP 2: DESIGN AN APPROPRIATE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
What is your plan of action? This step should outline what data you are going to gather and from whom to fulfil the research brief and achieve the objectives set out. How will you collect the data? What is the best approach to achieve your objectives?
Consider your objectives – primarily data/ information gathering will likely use a quantitative methodology, or depth understanding of opinions is more likely to use a qualitative methodology.
Any research methodologies have their advantages and disadvantages depending upon your objectives. Choices to consider include:
online (mobile, tablet or PC) or paper-based
self-completion or interviewer-led
telephone, face-to-face, Mystery Shopping
focus groups, co-creation groups etc.
Consider when and where you will collect the data and how you will analyse it. Take care not to bias your results and consider how you can gain a representative sample. Often there is a balance to be reached between available budget and the statistical accuracy of the results.
STEP 3: DESIGN AND TEST THE SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE/DISCUSSION GUIDE
Start with an introduction describing what the study is for, followed by any instructions, estimated time to complete and confidentiality. Consider whether you should incentivise completion and how, and whether you should send out any reminders.
The questionnaire or discussion guide should:
be sensibly structured with well-designed, balanced, non-judgmental, non-leading questions
use non-biased scales; offer as many positives as negatives
include appropriate probes and prompts
not contain long or complicated questions that are ambiguous and hard to understand
only ask one question within each question
include ‘routing’ to allow for some questions being irrelevant to some respondents
flow from the general to the specific, with sensitive questions later
refrain from asking questions if you are not going to use the results to those questions – many questionnaires are too long because they fail to distinguish interesting from relevant
allow you to segment the results if relevant
Consider using a mix of ‘closed’ questions (with response options), as well as semi-structured or more insightful, open-ended questions.
Always test/pilot your questionnaire or discussion
guide on a small subset of respondents.
STEP 4: SPECIFY THE SAMPLE
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO CONDUCTING CUSTOMER RESEARCH:
A sample is a subset of potential customers that are representative of your entire target market, or population being studied.
Take care to:
define the population correctly, otherwise you will be studying the wrong people
consider how you can achieve distribution to a relevant and representative sub-sample of this target audience, as well as the sample size you would need to achieve
consider if want to analyse your results by differing segments; if so, the overall sample size needs to be larger
consider the likely response rate
identify those who have already responded if you send out reminders
decide how you could avoid multiple submissions
ensure the sample is representative for online surveys
STEP 5: COLLECT THE DATA/INSIGHTS
Survey data can be collected in many different ways and combinations of ways. The following are the basic methods used:
face-to-face (can be computer/tablet aided, depth interview, focus groups, and Mystery Shopping)
telephone, can be computer aided (CATI) or completely automated (CAPI)
mail and hand delivery – door-to-door service
e-mail and the Web – Survey Monkey, Google form or professional survey software
STEP 6: ANALYZE THE DATA/INFORMATION
Once all the data/information is collected processes are needed to have control over any potential for incorrect data entry. You should also conduct some random back checks if surveys have been completed by interviewers. You can then begin the data cleaning process which involves removing duplicates, correcting data which has been collected in the wrong way or only half answered, and removing some data altogether if they might be considered as ‘outliers’ (e.g. results that will have a big impact on average scores). You can then analyse the data/information and draw conclusions based on the results.
Ask yourself whether the way in which the research was conducted seem sound? Was the sample size large enough to mean that the result is statistically significant? Are the insights and conclusions that become apparent from it reasonable?
STAGE 7: ACT
Now that you have identified the gaps or the answers to the questions you wanted answered, it’s time to review your research and use it to guide your decisions. You can tell which strategies are working and which aren’t, what new services or products may be successful or not, whether any changes to customer service improved things or not. Also regular tracking, asking some of the same questions/exploring customer insights can be very informative for future strategy and business decisions whilst providing great ROI!
2015 is almost over and it has been a busy year for our members; our Breakfast meeting with the Chamber of Commerce was a great success, the benefits of Mystery Shopping were highlighted during a presentation back in June by Jersey Business who conducted the St Helier Mystery Shopping programme (link to the results page). 4insight were at Fort Regent for the Jersey TechFair, www.TECHFAIR.ORG.JE in November and showcased their eye tracking technology in action, and Island Ark has helped a number new clients in better understanding their customers through online and interview-based surveys.
Our AGM was held on Wednesday 6th November, and we are planning a Lunch and Learn event the first quarter of 2016, dates to follow. We also want to hear from you, let us know how we can add value and what topics you would like to know more of.
In the meantime, our members are here to help if you would like some informal (or formal) information on how you could improve your services by understanding your customers’ needs, user testing your website and marketing materials, benchmarking yourself against the competition or measuring your customer service. Please also contact us if all you need is help in developing your own survey methodology, or stand-alone fast and accurate data input services.
November Breakfast Club with Chamber : Thursday 13th November
We know that 50% of advertising doesn’t work. We just don’t know which 50%!
It has been demonstrated that companies that regularly use professional research can gain a competitive edge and increase their profitability.
Jersey businesses and organisations are already benefitting from employing qualified local companies that are dedicated to providing research and data services within the Island, bringing with them professionalism, experience and value, combined with local insight.
The Jersey Chamber of Commerce has a new Research and Insight Group: The members are Julian Barber from Island Ark, Dorothy Parker from 4Insight and Claire Boscq-Scott, from CBS Customer Services and together they will be leading this breakfast club.
Location: The Radisson Blu Hotel
Date: 13th November 2014
Times: 08.00 – 09.00 with admission from 07.45.
Cost: £5 Members / £10 Non members – includes tea, coffee & pastries