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.
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?
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.