How Golfers View Your Service Quality: A ‘Secret Shopper’s’ Perspective

Sep 13, 2023 | News

By David Gould, Staff Editor           

A noted expert on golf marketing and media, Jackie Beck has successfully operated her own media-relations firm since 2002. She began her golf career as an assistant professional, serving four years on the staff at Florida’s 54-hole Innisbrook Resort, then crossed over into marketing at Spalding, where she advanced through several positions before hanging out her own shingle.

At a Proponent Group gathering, Jackie gave a well-received presentation titled “Secret Shopper: Customer-Service Mistakes Coaches Make, and How to Fix Them.” It was based on her exclusive Secret Shopper study of customer-service issues at 50 Proponent members’ teaching operations. 

One point she made involved sub-dividing your evaluation process into specific areas or particular questions. “Is the golf shop delivering messages to you, with accurate information about people who have called asking about instruction? If you suspect that’s not happening, have a few people you know and trust call in, asking about golf lessons,” says Beck. “Prioritize the things you want to check on, and take them one or two at a time.”

What do you charge, and what does the golfer get for their money? That’s a common question to ask anyone who sells a service. “Value, in the customer’s eyes, equals price minus experience—that’s your equation,” Beck says. “So, if it’s a $100 lesson and the experience was worth $150 they will almost automatically come back.” You’ve more than delivered on your promise, in such cases. 

“Change or die” is a mantra Beck has been trying to live by, the longer she’s been in the business. Lately Beck has been wondering about a “flashmob” approach to something like a golf clinic. “Who is going to be the first coach,” she wonders, “to get 30 Millennials into an intro-to-golf clinic by posting a flashmob announcement and letting them all just show up spontaneously?”

On a similar note, it’s often said that women highly value the socializing aspect of their involvement with golf. Beck heartily agrees, and she would urge greater emphasis on the social angle. “Some directors of instruction will schedule a Chips and Sips clinic and be overly concerned about whether chipping can be taught properly in this type of setting,” she says. “I say, ‘Who cares?’ The women are happy. Some nights they’ll be fine with skipping the golf part altogether—let them!”

If you have reservations, ask directly whether social-night only is of interest to the participants. “Ask and listen,” Beck repeats. “We have to get over the idea that we know better than the customer.”