We had a unique feedback late last year coming in through a health & fitness client with whom we are running a monthly mystery shopping program – a couple of their stakeholders (franchise owners) had requested to be excluded from the program.
Reason provided? They have been performing consistently well all year long.
Incidentally sometime earlier we had held discussions with a supermarket brand, who was eager to kick start their own mystery shopping program. Their call centre has seen a tremendous spike in customer complaints ever since they ceased their mystery shopping program a year ago. Reason for the cessation back then: they had observed their stores to be performing consistently well, and concluded that the mystery shopping program was no longer adding value.
It turned out to be the complete opposite.
Oftentimes the value of a mystery shopping program is lost upon the stakeholders after having it run for a prolonged period of time. Especially so when the trend begins to show consistent, favourable scores. It is important hence that we realise the many overarching takeaways from running such a program beyond the immediate results, 5 of which are briefly shared below.
- Increases motivation levels
Mystery shopping programs (MSPs) naturally bring out the competitive nature in staffs. In striving for their stores/areas to be the top-performer, these programs indirectly motivate the staff to be consistently on the ball, knowing that each customer is potentially an evaluator. Alongside these programs, brands can consider aligning awards and even monetary incentives to the MSP scores, or at the bare minimum introduce the appropriate recognition, to further promote healthy competition.
- Validates and complements training
Traditionally, training is a huge investment. Brands invest in trainers and training programs to drill the brand standards and product knowledge into their staff. MSPs validate the effectiveness of these training programs by assessing if the training and coaching has been picked up and is in fact executed on the shop floor. Beyond that, MSPs also allow the companies to zero in on the gaps, so they can then tailor their subsequent training accordingly.
- Provides an indication on resource/planning
MSPs can include assessments on service promptness. The numbers could give an indication if certain stores are shorthanded, during certain time or day periods (weekday vs. weekend) for instance. Essentially assisting with staff allocation and planning.
- Promotes consistency of brand standards
MSPs, when rolled out to all stores, provide a consistent assessment which helps to ensure that consistency in the brand standards is achieved across the board – be it for stores in the urban/upper-tier cities or those in the rural/lower-tier cities, etc. After all, customers would often expect the same service experience from a brand regardless the store location.
- Allows for competitive analysis
Our MSPs can be extended to competitor brands. Customer experience is relative to customer expectations, and customer expectations are driven by industry standards. Knowing how they score against their competitors, be it in a local or regional context, place the brands in good stead of knowing how their service standards are perceived in the eyes of the customers.
With these ingrained, mystery shopping can be your evergreen value-add tool in your pursuit for excellent customer experience.
Mystery Shopping is a well-known method of customer research. Leverage BARE International’s 30 years of experience that has taken this tried and true method to new levels to evaluate your customers’ experiences. Using calls, clicks or visits our global workforce of evaluators follow predefined scenarios. Evaluators record their experience at various touch points throughout the customer journey. Photos and videos can also be collected to visually record an evaluator’s experience interacting with your brand.
Contact us today for a complimentary evaluation of your business.