Mystery Shopping is a way of measuring customer service against a series of pre-defined criterion. Customer Service consultants and Market Research companies use mystery shoppers to help businesses achieve their customer service objectives and to verify that their staff are behaving in an appropriate manner.
Mystery shoppers are recruited to pose as a normal customer. They might go into a store to buy a specific product, return an item, or even make a complaint, but at all times, the mystery shopper is taking notes about every aspect of their experience.
Once a mystery shopping service is hired, a detailed breakdown of exactly what the client requires will be drawn up. Mystery shoppers will typically make detailed notes about the number of employees present, the time it takes to be greeted by staff, how courteous the staff are, the types of products offered, sales techniques, whether any add-on products were offered at the point of sale, plus a host of other criterion. Mystery Shoppers are often instructed to be “difficult” customers, or simply behave in a non-typical fashion to ensure the test is as stringent as possible.
This method of evaluating customer services is a tool that has been in use since the 1940’s. It is generally considered to be a far more effective method than simply asking customers to fill in a feedback form, since as many as 9/10 disgruntled customers will never bother to make a complaint. Most of these people will probably just take their business elsewhere and you will have no idea it even happened—or why.
It is far better to retain existing customers than to try and attract new ones. Mystery Shopping is the ideal way to see exactly what your customers experience every time they buy a product or service from your business. Some aspects of customer service are fairly easy to measure, such as delivery times. But it is the other less tangible areas of customer service that are more difficult to quantify, and it is in this area that mystery shopping really comes into its own.
If your customers are treated with a total lack of respect, you need to find out sooner rather than later so you can deal effectively with the problem. Without customers, your business will fail, so it is very important that you make sure every facet of your customers’ experience is a positive one.
Mystery shoppers are a useful way of determining whether or not your staff are complying with legal requirements as well following company standards and procedures. If you run a franchise operation, it is vital that each franchise is performing consistently. Since you cannot constantly monitor every single franchise, mystery shoppers can measure the customer service experience on your behalf.
Many companies use mystery shoppers as a way of evaluating weaknesses in the customer service chain. By identifying any potential customer service problems, employees can be targeted for extra job training. It is also a useful way of ascertaining just how effective existing training is.
If your business is in a competitive area, it is often helpful to benchmark your service against your rivals. Mystery shopping can help to identify any sectors where your competitors are significantly outperforming you. Knowledge is power, so any pertinent information about how you can improve your customers experience will help to improve to boost the performance of your business.
On a positive note, mystery shopping can help to identify employees who are performing above and beyond expectations. If you are lucky enough to have an employee who regularly out performs everybody else on the customer service front, but is modest enough not to draw attention to themselves, it is only fitting that they are rewarded in some way. By using the feedback you gain from mystery shoppers, you can identify these individuals and make sure that they receive some kind of reward in return for their exemplary work.
Mystery shopping can be used as a one-off tool to evaluate the customer service experience in your business, or it can be implemented on a regular basis to continually measure how well your staff performs on a daily basis. This is especially important in a driven sales environment where short-term sales targets can sometimes be given a higher priority than long-term customer satisfaction.
View our Mystery Shopping Services here.