NFDC supports local high street businesses with mystery shopper programmeDownloadNew Forest Distr
New Forest District Council’s (NFDC) ‘Shop Doctor’ mystery shopping programme has revealed that the area’s high street businesses offer excellent customer service.
Following on from a New Forest high street conference, NFDC developed a series of initiatives to support local high streets, including the mystery shopping programme.
Each business taking part was given a score out of 100 from the mystery shopper visit. The overall average across the four towns was 87%, with 78% of businesses achieving scores of over 80%. There were also five outstanding businesses which achieved 100% for their mystery shopper experience.
The programme, which started in February, aimed to improve the customer experience in identified town centres in the New Forest through a series of mystery shopper visits. It supported 82 independent businesses from four towns: Fordingbridge, Lymington and Pennington, Ringwood, and Totton.
Each participating business was visited by an independent researcher to provide a customer experience review, rating them on several factors including window display, interior layout, customer service and online presence. Each town then hosted a results and feedback evening to celebrate and recognise the retail, business and service excellence experienced around these towns.
The programme enabled those participating to identify individual areas of strength and weakness, resulting in the opportunity to develop a higher quality standard of retail and hospitality provision within these towns.
Councillor Michael Harris OBE, New Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for business, high streets and tourism, said: “We can all see that our local independent retailers continue to face challenging times. In addition, we recognise that the High Street is a crucial element of both our local community and our local economy. The New Forest Shop Doctor Programme results clearly demonstrate that we have fantastic businesses here and we should all be proud of them and continue to support our high streets by shopping local”
Jim Smith of customer experience firm insight6, who carried out the surveys, said “There is a lot of bad news for the high street currently, so these numbers are a real boost. They show that the New Forest retailers compare really well with other towns across the south of England, and the area has a high number of shops and businesses that give customers a great experience, a vital factor if visitors are to return.
“Repeatable footfall is what all high streets crave, so this is all great news for businesses who suffer intense competition from bigger neighbours and the internet. On the evidence, and with such a range of interesting and eclectic businesses, New Forest towns are a great place to go to shop and spend time”.