How to make your Mys­tery Shop­ping ef­fec­tive

Mys­tery Shop­ping can be a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment for brands to de­liver on cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and to track whether brand-spe­cific pro­to­cols are re­ally be­ing fol­lowed in their out­lets and cus­tomer touch points.

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Editor’s Note - By Bhairavi Sa­gar

Brands, es­pe­cially those in cus­tomer fac­ing busi­nesses like Re­tail, F&B, and Ser­vices, have train­ing and de­vel­op­ment pro­grams de­signed to de­liver on their cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence prom­ise. De­pend­ing on the in­dus­try and au­di­ence de­mo­graph­ics, we have known th­ese train­ing pro­grams to an­swer spe­cific cus­tomer sce­nar­ios and use cases. It is an ex­cel­lent start­ing point for the front line staff to con­sis­tently de­liver sat­is­fac­tory cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences. The ques­tion that re­mains – how can brands track whether th­ese brand-spe­cific pro­to­cols are re­ally be­ing fol­lowed in their out­lets and cus­tomer touch points or not? This is where Mys­tery Shop­ping comes into play.

For sev­eral brands, es­pe­cially the boot­strapped ser­vice app start-ups, and even large brands with hun­dreds of touch points and out­lets, Mys­tery Shop­ping can be a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment. So how can brands make the most of their Mys­tery Shop­ping Pro­gram?

Pro­gram de­sign

It is crit­i­cal that the Mys­tery Shop­ping pro­gram is de­signed to de­liver from the word go. One

sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent of this is the ques­tion­naire. Over the years, our ex­pe­ri­ence shows that ques­tion­naires must be crisp and ob­jec­tive and leave lit­tle room for per­sonal bi­ases and pref­er­ences of field re­sources. While train­ing field re­sources on ob­jec­tive eval­u­a­tions is es­sen­tial, it is also very im­por­tant to de­sign a ques­tion­naire that en­sures ob­jec­tive re­sponses and data that your brand and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence teams can act on im­me­di­ately.

Ac­cu­rate de­mo­graph­ics of field re­sources

Your Mys­tery Shop­ping agency must em­ploy field re­sources that come as close to the brand’s au­di­ence de­mo­graph­ics as pos­si­ble, in or­der to en­sure rel­e­vant feed­back. In the course of the pro­gram, if you in­tro­duce a pro­mo­tion or ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence that caters to a spe­cific de­mo­graphic, such as on­line or ap­pen­abled re­turn pick-ups for ur­ban smart­phone users, and want the ser­vice to be mea­sured, it is crit­i­cal that you in­form your Mys­tery Shop­ping agency about the spe­cific tar­get au­di­ence of the ser­vice.

Keep an eye on the out­comes con­stantly

Mys­tery Shop­ping re­sults can­not be re­viewed only pe­ri­od­i­cally. They bring real time cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences to the fore­front and if some­thing is not go­ing right as far as your brand stan­dards are con­cerned, it is es­sen­tial that you take cor­rec­tive ac­tion im­me­di­ately be­fore too many real cus­tomers come face to face with the is­sue. This is why it is im­por­tant for your Mys­tery Shop­ping agency to be us­ing the right tech­nol­ogy plat­form or soft­ware be­cause that al­lows brands real time ac­cess to data about their ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence and per­for­mance.

De­velop an ac­tion plan

It is im­por­tant that your brand looks at Mys­tery Shop­ping re­ports as a de­vel­op­ment tool for both short-term cor­rec­tive ac­tion as well as long-term train­ing. It can be an ex­cel­lent tool to coach the cus­tomer fac­ing staff or share best prac­tices, and pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences. Be­fore you kick­start a Mys­tery Shop­ping pro­gram, en­sure that you work with your agency part­ner and rel­e­vant in­ter­nal teams to de­velop a strong process in terms of who sees and mea­sures the data and how you in­tend for the re­sults to im­pact your ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence in the long run.

Com­bine Mys­tery Shop­ping re­sults with other mea­sure­ment tools

In or­der to get the com­plete pic­ture of your ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence, it is im­por­tant to com­bine Mys­tery Shop­ping data with other sources of cus­tomer feed­back such as cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys, phone in­ter­views, SMS feed­back, etc. This helps iden­tify the pat­terns of pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives from a wider sam­ple set – from field re­sources to ex­pe­ri­ences of real cus­tomers. A good Mys­tery Shop­ping re­port will iden­tify and show how well your out­let or brand in gen­eral is do­ing on op­er­a­tional pa­ram­e­ters such as re­sponse time, keen­ness to as­sist, etc., while cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion data gives you an in-depth view of what your cus­tomers re­ally want. Com­bin­ing the two en­sures you not only de­liver to the best of your abil­ity but also con­stantly have an eye on the pulse of your con­sumers. This shapes stronger, more rel­e­vant, and tar­geted cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence pro­grams in the long run.

Mys­tery Shop­ping is an ex­cel­lent tool to gain in­sights into how well your brand’s cus­tomer and ser­vice ex­pe­ri­ence is run­ning op­er­a­tionally. How­ever, its real im­pact is in its im­ple­men­ta­tion. The stronger the im­ple­men­ta­tion plan, the more ef­fec­tive your Mys­tery Shop­ping in­vest­ment will be.

The writer is Di­rec­tor, Onion In­sights, a global Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence Mea­sure­ment (CEM) com­pany.

It is im­por­tant that your brand looks at Mys­tery Shop­ping re­ports as a de­vel­op­ment tool for both short­term cor­rec­tive ac­tion as well as long-term train­ing. It can be an ex­cel­lent tool to coach the cus­tomer fac­ing staff or share best prac­tices, and pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences.

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