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Fact Sheet

Description

Originally rooted in traditional mystery shopping, Mercantile Systems has, over its 50+ years, created and honed a variety of tools to collect and report actionable data. That helps service-dependent companies monitor, manage and improve their operational performance through improving their customer and employee interactions. Using customer experience and satisfaction surveys, theft monitoring and loss prevention tools, Mercantile Systems helps managers improve overall customer satisfaction, and enhance profitability.

Products and Services

In addition to conducting more than one million surveys over the years, Mercantile Systems has evolved many other services to meet its clients' needs, such as automated outbound calling, employee training programs, interactive voice response, new store programs, and business-to-business applications to monitor co-branded relationships. Services include:

Customer Research Surveys:

Tapping a database of over 100,000 surveyors, Mercantile Systems visits a business location and provides in-depth details about the customer experience. Customer Research Surveys provide insight into staff performance and use of appropriate selling techniques, as well as the customer's overall satisfaction level with factors ranging from site atmosphere and cleanliness to product pricing.

Employee Reward Program:

Mercantile Systems helps businesses design programs to recognize those employees who score 90% or above for the target criteria, to help owners reward and train for improved customer satisfaction, sales, and staff morale.

Integrity Surveys:

Trained agents under Mercantile Systems' private investigator license conduct integrity-based surveys that verify transactions and help resolve questions about inventory fluctuations, employee theft or other prohibited behavior. Integrity surveys help determine if proper recording of sales is taking place, whether service expectations are met, and whether applicable industry laws are being followed, among other things.

Compliance Auditing:

Legal penalties are not the only consequences of non-compliance with anti-discriminatory laws and regulations, as our clients have found. Mercantile Systems helps organizations in such diverse fields as health care, retail and hospitality monitor how well they serve vital ethnic and cross-cultural audiences that wield growing power to affect their bottom lines.

New Location Start-Up:

An easy-to-use program that identifies issues in the day-to-day operations of a new location, allowing rapid change implementation. The program includes a staff survey, employee training module, reward program, customer research, integrity surveying and consultation with a top operational expert.

Employee Training:

Mercantile Systems collects operational data from employees and/or customer research surveys to engage clients' employees in a 360° training experience. Data is sorted individually by employee, so each employee gets a comprehensive assessment of performance and how they rank against their peers. The program helps them make immediate adjustments, identify areas for needed training or retraining, and helps reward outstanding behaviors.

Private Investigating:

This service includes Loss Prevention Consultation, covert video, polygraph examination, and security interviews.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR):

Mercantile Systems uses the newest technology to allow customers to quickly and easily take a custom-designed, short survey over the phone (Interactive Voice Response) or on the Web (Interactive Computer Response). The toll free number or URL can be printed on the receipt.

Automated Outbound Calling (AOC):

Mercantile Systems enables businesses to send voice messages to specified groups of customers or prospects. AOC can be used to build traffic and business by announcing new menu items, special events, a new manager, or a new store opening.

Customer Research, Integrity, and IVR/ICR services are reported through a 24/7 accessible web-based system. This gives key management easy access to the data. Hard-copy reports are available when requested.

Tips and Hints:

Through continuous review of collected data, Mercantile Systems develops a wealth of information on topics and issues of interest to businesses. These are made available through regular distribution (mail and e-mail) of Tips and Hints, a synopsis of useful findings.

The Need and the Market

Starting and running a business is an act of extreme optimism. Dunn and Bradstreet statistics show that businesses have only a nine percent chance of surviving for 10 years, and some industries—such as the restaurant business—are even more at risk. (Restaurants have only a 20% chance of surviving two years.)

Being established is no guarantee of continued success. Thousands of well-established businesses fail each year because of changing demographics, consumer expectations, competitive pressures and failure to respond to emerging trends. The life cycle of the average consumer fad or product is just 18 months. Businesses must constantly refresh and refine their offerings to succeed.

Success itself can sow the seeds of failure; a business that leverages a previously untapped market or develops an innovative new concept is inviting competitors to step in to undercut prices, copy a new concept, and tap its customer base.

That's one reason why mystery shoppers have been around for decades; to provide feedback on the customer experience which is so vital to success. Mystery shopping and related techniques first were initiated in the hospitality industry, which has been focused on customer satisfaction as a gauge for success for decades. Today, they are used frequently in mainstream businesses. Unfortunately, many surveys are too imprecise and poorly designed to provide actionable data. The need is for surveys tailored to specific customer requirements, constantly updated based on findings and observable trends. The collected data must be assembled and analyzed to help business owners make substantive changes that will enhance the profitability of their operations—and their customers' experiences.

Mercantile Systems' surveys show that most companies are meeting basic customer expectations for staff friendliness, professionalism, cleanliness and environment. But how well service associates actively employ suggestive selling techniques is a major determinant of purchase levels, consumer impressions, and repeat visits—as well as business profit margins—and many, if not most, consumer research doesn't reveal this. Revealing specific details of the purchase experience—and tying those discoveries to actions that can specifically improve performance—is what makes well-designed field surveys so effective.

As retail and other service-dependent industries seek to elevate service quality—along with sales—"customer experience research" services are becoming an indispensable tool. Data collection and analysis that provides management with comparisons to important benchmarks (such as national averages) and trend analysis can provide a complete view of the customer experience and level of satisfaction, when used in combination with other research tools. These tools also are becoming a vital way businesses can measure compliance with government regulations and the need to treat customers in a fair and unbiased manner—providing every customer with the service and experience he or she deserves.

Company History

Founded in 1954 by Robert Cosgrove, family-owned Mercantile Systems was a mystery shopping company focused mainly on servicing independent restaurant owners until a decade ago. In 1996, Dan Cosgrove took over the business from his father, with the intent to tap new opportunities and industries. Mercantile Systems subsequently has grown by over 400% with clients ranging from restaurants and bars to retail, healthcare, telecommunications and entertainment clients.

Employees

42 full-time and contract management and administrative employees
More than 100,000 enrolled surveyors

Management

Dan Cosgrove, CEO
Valerie Casares, President

Locations

Mercantile Systems is headquartered at:
1145 2nd Street
Suite A—307
Brentwood, California 94513

Phone: 888-222-8301
Fax: 888-222-8302 

Contact

Hatti Hamlin
925.872.4328 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              925.872.4328      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Dan Cosgrove
925.325.9247