CRC Developing Secret Shopper Program

Pictured, from left to right, are Jackie Herbstritt; Kellie Swales, Main Street Manager; Laurie Breakey, PSU Instructor; Michael Chittester; Jamie Straub, CRC Economic Restructuring Chairperson; Brad Pontious; Nicole Carlson; Chris Aiello; and Alana Rhoads. (Provided photo)

Pictured, from left to right, are Jackie Herbstritt; Kellie Swales, Main Street Manager; Laurie Breakey, PSU Instructor; Michael Chittester; Jamie Straub, CRC Economic Restructuring Chairperson; Brad Pontious; Nicole Carlson; Chris Aiello; and Alana Rhoads. (Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield Revitalization Corp. (CRC) is developing a Secret Shopper program to implement in downtown Clearfield.

The CRC’s Economic Restructuring Committee is overseeing the project. It has also partnered with Penn State DuBois to assist with research. Senior Instructor Laurie Breakey’s Contemporary Skills for Business Professionals class researched several options and presented them to the CRC.

The class used new technology to orchestrate the presentation called Prezi, which is a cloud-based software and story-telling tool for presenting ideas on a virtual canvas. It allows users to zoom in and out of their presentation media, navigate through information within a 3D platform, and it can be saved online or offline.

Through this platform, the students presented the Secret Shopper program step by step: Starting a Secret Shopper Program; Legalities of a Secret Shopper Program; Merchant Evaluation; Shopper Surveys; Recruiting Volunteers; and Shopper Selection and Training.

Through this process, the class used a customer-service driven approach. Customer service is a marketing tool, and excellent customer service can result in increased sales and public image, survival in terms of competition, greater job satisfaction for staff, repeat business and customer loyalty.

The class recommends merchants to evaluate their business before implementing the program. This will help develop the proper plan for improving what the merchant is looking to achieve from this experience. The next step is recruiting volunteers.

Based on the research, volunteers from the ages 18-65 years are ideal for coming up with specific ideas of what businesses should offer, especially in the retail and dining industries. Customers who are 30 years and younger consider the process of shopping versus the actual purchase. Customers who are ages 31-40 years think more strategic in their purchase and prefer a list, price, and time. Customers who are 41-50 years are more likely to schedule an appointment or reservation, and customers 51 years and older are more likely to ask questions and need assistance in their shopping experience.

Once volunteers are selected, proper training should take place before the Secret Shopper program begins. It is important to discuss what is being targeted and questions to ask. After the Secret Shopper program has been implemented, the CRC can meet with the merchants for a review.

“The Penn State students did an excellent job creating a program that will benefit the downtown Clearfield business district.  Once implemented, the Secret Shopper program will add an additional feedback tool for businesses to utilize; ultimately leading to better customer service and repeat visitors to the downtown area,” stated Jamie Straub, chairperson for the CRC Economic Restructuring Committee.

The CRC’s Economic Restructuring committee is currently reviewing and organizing the implementation process, but encourages merchants to make contact to participate.

To contact the CRC, you can visit online at www.DiscoverClearfield.com or call 814-765-6000.

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