Our History

The Founding of Video Secret Shopping… An RBG Legacy

What’s in a name? Reality Based Group is our name but you might know us better as RBG, easier to say but perhaps not quite as descriptive. You see, as the founders of video secret shopping, we were founded in reality and we’re still very much based in it today. We’re here to give you the reality of your business – the good, the bad, and the well, you know.

But let’s start at the beginning… All the way back to 1992

An Economic Influence

The nation was vexed by a stubborn recession and gearing up for a historic presidential election. Like much of the nation, Houston felt the impact of the recession and a full recovery would prove to be a challenge. When the national recession occurred, the city was already struggling from the 1980s energy crisis. What was once a booming western oil town, was now in a fight for its economic survival.

As unemployment continued to rise, tens of thousands of people began fleeing the city, leaving behind rows of abandoned buildings, a surplus of vacant property, and a memory of what once was.

As for RBG’s founder, Joe Woskow, he had problems of his own. As an aspiring business man in his 20s, Joe was eager to succeed. When he landed a job at an apartment complex as the property manager, he started carving out a strategy to take the business to the next level. To Joe’s delight, everything seemed to be working in his favor. Tenant satisfaction was increasing, and the quality of guest interactions was better than ever.

A Competitive Landscape

But something was bothering Joe… And it started consuming his every thought. Regardless of what he tried, he just could never seem to fill all vacancies left behind by the recession. To make matters worse, most nearby apartment complexes seemed almost identical to one another. They all had similar floor-plans and almost identical amenities.

It wasn’t long before Joe realized that the answer to his problem was staring at him all along. It occurred to him that differentiating one’s property was achievable in one of two ways. He could compete through either establishing a well designed customer experience or through offering the lowest price. For Joe, however, competing on price was not an option. Which left only one path for Joe to travel.

A New Approach

He created a strategy to ensure that his staff was doing everything possible to offer a proactive customer experience. He drafted playbooks for his employees to use when speaking to customers with guidelines around his expectations. From that moment forward, no longer were traditional selling techniques allowed.

He challenged every employee to go the extra mile when engaging with customers by displaying sincerity and genuine interest. To Joe, this would put the customer at ease and would result in higher sales and deeper levels of loyalty.

After two months, Joe wasn’t sure if his employees were following through. While they assured him that they were communicating differently with customers, the sales numbers remained flat. That’s when Joe had an idea. An idea that would forever transform the way businesses across the world measured customer experience.

Going Undercover

He recruited some friends to visit his property unannounced and “undercover” with cameras hidden beneath their jackets. He wanted them to capture what was really going on, through the eyes of his customers. His findings were what he suspected – employees were not engaging potential tenants, they were not asking discovery questions or being proactive.

After a few weeks of capturing footage, Joe scheduled a team meeting and revealed his findings while laying out a roadmap of expectations and plans for his team. Over the next couple weeks, Joe continued recruiting friends to go undercover but now employees knew they were being held accountable. And in no time, behaviors began to change and prospects were truly being engaged.

Over the next six months, sales went through the roof and Joe had carved out his spot in the market. For Joe, however, video secret shopping had been born.

GameFilm® and Reality Based Group

GameFilm® became the identifying name for our video secret shopping. Much like the game film an athlete watches to improve, video secret shopping was the film businesses watched to improve.

It was such a great idea it became the most popular approach in evaluating the customer experience. Clients no longer had to operate and make decisions with blinders; the reality was now in front of them.

As the success of GameFilm grew Joe created Reality Based Group to make the secret shopping process comprehensive and inclusive, a one-stop-shop for businesses devoted to keeping their standards high and competitive.

Growing Strong

As RBG, we first established our reputation by concentrating on companies in our home state of Texas where all types of businesses were booming. Rapid economic expansion meant competition to attract and retain customers was ruthless. Service, food and retail sectors quickly realized their success depended on quality across the board and were at a loss on how to measure and improve their employee performance to remain viable.

The stage was set for RBG. Our belief in continuous improvement and that everything and everyone can evolve to become something better was contagious. With each new client, word spread that RBG offered the highest quality in the secret shopping industry based on our methods of measuring and managing customer experiences based on concrete, objective reasoning and in-depth data collection and analysis. In addition, RBG offered improvement programs tailored to address individual company needs. Our reputation for success grew and our client base soon spread to many other states across America.

Going Forward

Today, RBG continues to thrive under current President and CEO Josh Stern. Continuing where Joe left off Stern continues the search for the next great idea. To this end, CEO doesn’t just stand for Chief Executive Office for Stern. In fact, the “E” in CEO brings us back to the discussion of what exactly is in a name. For Stern and RBG that “E” stands for more than just executive, it also stands for engagement.

Working with regional businesses to Fortune 500 companies, Stern’s first order of business was to uncover what made some of these companies more successful than their competitors. After careful examination, he found a common thread – something simple but powerful. He discovered those companies experiencing success all had a leader at the top truly passionate about the customer experience. Leaders putting the customer experience front and center, a Chief Engagement Officer if you will.

Acting as our Chief Engagement Officer, Stern goes beyond just P&L responsibility. He experiments with new ideas and avenues and strives to think outside the box to develop ways to improve customer interactions, drive innovation, and establish a competitive edge for an organization.

And while the title of Chief Engagement Officer may not be found on a business card, the concept is very real and translates to every single RBG employee. For a Chief Engagement Officer creating a team of engaged employees who all fully understand and positively build upon the organization’s vision and mission is one of the most important and central goals. Every day at RBG Stern continues to create one A-team ceaselessly working together to fulfill RBG’s vision and mission.

A Culture of Excellence

For our team reaching the next level is a serious pursuit; however, it is also our belief that happy employees recognized for their achievements are ultimately more driven, dedicated and productive. So we do things like play kickball and other league sports as a company and volunteer locally together twice a year. We feel our employees thrive in a fun, positive environment that stresses both personal and professional growth through passion and drive.

So whether you say Reality Based Group or RBG, if you want to be part of a company with a solid past and stable plans for growth in the 21st century join our team. We look forward to you contributing to and sharing in our success.

Featured Clients|A selection of some of our wonderful clients. Case studies »

Real Talk |News, thoughts, and musings on the evolution of Customer Experience. All news »

 
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