Research Approach

Our Research Process

National Shopping Service realizes that your time is valuable, so we’ve made working with us as easy as possible.

We employ a number of research tactics to gather data and materials from customers, current and potential, as well as partners and employees. While online communication is the most efficient feedback methodology of our current research approaches, we are equally capable of performing market research utilizing mailouts or e-mailouts, and/or phone surveys. Please read on for our generalized approach...

Structuring the customer research project
Customer research requires you to collect and analyze data, then act on the resulting information - otherwise you have invested time (and money) without any return. How do you structure the research project for maximum return on investment? By approaching the project scientifically.

  1. Choose A Topic...
    First, we will describe what topic you willl study. A good example of this is a typical restaurant customer survey. With this approach, we are interested in the topics of food/service quality and advertising effectiveness. On the other hand, an employee feedback program might be used to gauge reactions to different incentive programs which themselves have specific performance areas as their topics.

  2. Select a Technique...
    Next, we choose a research technique and a tactical approach for carrying it out. If you're doing a customer survey, for example, choose a method (of communication, as opposed to the type of customer contact being experienced - personal, phone, online) such as telephone surveys, in-store surveys, or assessments administered through a web site.

  3. Sample selection...
    Once we have strategized a topic (or group of topics) and a method of research, we can effectively select an appropriate sample size to address the topics required. A sample is a subset of the larger universe you are studying (you have access to our 350,000+ shoppers nationwide, international contractors, in-house staff, and many other demographically diverse human resources).

    The size of your sample affects the accuracy of your results, of course. If the sample being studied is too small, errors will creep in as you generalize your conclusions to the larger population. Thanks to years of experience, we strive to make your sample group a true representation of the total universe you are studying.

  4. The survey tool...
    Whether it is a questionnaire or a list of discussion topics for a focus group moderator, the survey tool must be developed with care. Whole books are devoted to this subject, and many professional consulting firms work in this area. However, even a beginner's efforts can produce results.

    "CARE" - Customer/Contractor Assessment Reporting Engine is a versatile content management, statistical analysis, and control panel for ALL of your customer research needs.

    Employee Refresher Training - Results coming back from individual mystery shops are promptly fed to front-line / store managers to be presented to the evaluated employee(s). The employee then completes specific interactive online training (specifically the opportunities for improvement noted during the mystery shop) and then takes a “Test.”

    Employee "Monitors" - Whether collecting employee satisfaction surveys using online systems, or interviewing employees upon exit, quantitative facts as well as anecdotal and narrative information is collected and managed using web-based content management and project management applications.

    Online Surveys - With a worldwide mystery shopper workforce of 300,000+ individuals, we have immediate access to a full spectrum of demographic metrics. Online surveys are a fast and efficient way to gather information used to corroborate and fine tune mystery guest questionnaire content as well as ferreting out precise guest wants, needs, and desires as they correlate to specific operational models or improvement goals.

  5. Analyzing the results...
    The final step in a customer research project is collecting and analyzing the data. The data must be gathered and results must be tabulated, grouped into meaningful categories, and studied until insights emerge. It takes analytical skill to turn a pile of survey answer sheets into actionable customer and employee wisdom. That is where NSS's experience and sophisticated analytical tools converge to find the "nuggets of gold" in your customer or employee research.

  6. Drawing Conclusions...
    A customer or other research project is tough to do well, but not if you have the right mentor. Delegating the project to our specialists here at NSS will get the job done better, faster, and without drawing your focus away from the other aspects of your business. You should invest in your research projects in proportion to the importance of the decisions riding on the results.

    For the local chef with one or two stores, the low-budget "OpinionWeb" (online automated comment card tool) would most likely provide just what he needed - an early warning system to alert him to problems with the customer experience. On the other hand, for a retailer considering signing a long-term lease on an expensive storefront, spending several thousand dollars on research to assess the new trade area would be money well spent.



Privacy Matters!
When you ask customers for information, you raise concerns regarding how that information will be stored and used. It is very important to assure customers and employees that the data you collect will not be sold or used in any way that might violate their privacy or be harmful to them. Let customers know that your purpose in obtaining this knowledge is to offer products and services they are more likely to want, and to improve other aspects of your relationship with them. The customer information you collect is a valuable company asset and you must protect it as such.

Your investment in customer or employee research, however modest or grand, is an important component in your overall success. Understanding your employees will guide you toward training, marketing, and compensation strategies that are cost-efficient and highly effective. The best way to understand your "people" is simply to ask them what you want to know - through the most appropriate survey techniques for your situation.

Get started soon and continually perform customer service and employee research. Survey your audience at intervals over time. You will keep your research knowledge current, spot trends as they emerge, and deepen your insight into the ongoing conditions of your business. Research takes a little time and sometimes a lot of courage, but the effort invested will go straight to your bottom line.

Specific Solution Research Approaches

Each solution has its own tactical advantages:
More specific information on the steps involved in other services can be found here:

  • Mystery Shopping (CARE)
  • Online Surveys / Electronic Comment Cards
  • Audits and other Non-customer Inspections (CARE)
  • Employee Feedback System
  • Employee Recognition and Incentive Programs
  • Exit Interview Service
  • Customer Intercepts

Follow Us