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Thursday, May 3, 2018

TSG TruShop brings mystery shopping to acquiring industry

Until now, the practice of mystery shopping to measure business metrics internally has been relegated to the automotive, retail, fitness and other merchant segments. Turning the table, The Strawhecker Group recently introduced TruShop, a service that enables merchant acquiring players to objectively evaluate and test how merchants view their brand, products, services, sales and support teams based on TSG merchant engagements.

"Clearly, there was a need for it, specifically with a lot of these evolving products or services in the market, the newer entrants," said Jared Drieling, Director of Business Intelligence at TSG. "In terms of the process, what we do is take on the persona of that merchant and we reach out to various payment providers and document that process." The firm provides both online and physical in-store TruShop evaluations for clients.

To perform the service, TSG collaborates with a variety of merchants in different verticals and geographic locations. Before releasing the product, the firm tested the product extensively. John Jakobe, TSG Market Research Analyst and TruShop Product Manager revealed that during the test phase, an evaluation of software for a restaurant found the reseller unable to answer questions or completely navigate the software.

Aggregated data from TruShop's initial findings found that among the major U.S. acquirers reviewed, the average time it takes for prospective merchants to receive an application is two days, the average length of an application is 14 pages, merchants are confused by fragmented offerings and where to turn for service, there is an overreliance on the one-size-fits-all approach, and partner and reseller education needs improvement.

Two-sided value proposition

The value to merchant acquirers, banks, POS providers, ISVs, resellers, ISOs, gateway and shopping cart providers who engage the service is the ability to view the experience from the merchant perspective. "We're able to benchmark that real experience that the merchant faces when they are having conversations with a wide variety of different payment players," Drieling noted. "This is the true, real life merchant experience."

Popular options selected during the test phase included analyses of competitors to benchmark where companies stand and identify areas that need improvement, review of internal processes to determine strengths and weaknesses, and evaluation of competing products. In some cases, clients weren't aware of particular weaknesses, which TruShop's team was able to detect during engagements with merchants.

When assessing a payment processor's position in a specific niche market, for example, TruShop will examine competitor support of the market. "We're able to understand not only from a merchant perspective what are the brand perceptions across those different payment processors, we're also able to uncover some competitive intelligence," Drieling said. "Maybe they are a market share leader, however competitors A, B and C also have those ISV relationships. Under the mystery shopping TruShop engagement, we can understand those true software relationships as well."

Merchants also benefit from the TruShop experience. "They get this nice assessment of who may be their best partner or maybe who can best meet their needs," Drieling said.

Cradle to grave assessments

According to Jakobe, the TruShop service is designed to evaluate everything from cradle to grave for clients, from the initial point a merchant determines a need for a solution, to the process of searching and finding the right solution, to the post sales experience. TSG evaluates and analyzes the capabilities, services, responsiveness and overall perceptions of various sales channels, as well as individual products and services.

Timing for TruShop assessments varies based on the depth of each project and whether on-site merchant meetings are required or the evaluation takes place online, which requires less time. "It really depends on the nature of that potential project or initiative, but typically, we can have a company successfully mystery shopped or completely evaluated in one business day," Jakobe said. "Or that can take up to three to four weeks." end of article

Editor's Note:

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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