So, your brand has dedicated the money and resources to improve its Customer Experience by implementing a mystery shopping initiative, but what should this program be measuring? While this is inherently different for every brand, the overall concept of a mystery shopping program should be unlocking similar insights. Understanding the value your customers desire and being able to deliver that value is the overarching goal for any Customer Experience initiative, and a mystery shopping program can help deliver the more specified information that can lead to unlocking this information. Any viable or useful mystery shopping program will encompass any of these four major themes:
When describing the concept of mystery shopping to someone, the first assumption made by most people is that it is used to make sure that employees are consistently performing the way they are supposed to. This initial assumption is absolutely correct, because ensuring that your employees are consistently providing great service and value can be one of the most challenging aspects of designing a successful Customer Experience program. It is easy to design a great Customer Experience program from the office on the sixtieth floor, but mystery shopping allows your brand to make sure that employees are performing the way your brand desires during interactions with real customers. The ideal mystery shopper is unrecognizable, so they should be able to capture the unfiltered behavior of frontline employees, and accurately report on their experience. A mystery shopping program also makes location and regional managers more efficient, because they have the shoppers’ eyes and ears monitoring what is happening at stores, they don’t need to spend as much time monitoring personnel. This gives regional leadership more time to focus on mentoring and training employees.
The information your organization collects from employee evaluations can also be used to fuel a benchmarking program, compared to competitors or company standards. The benchmark provides a snapshot of service across the organization, which allows your brand to establish best practices across your entire Customer Experience platform. Monitoring improvement over time is then key to determining which training efforts are providing the greatest impact, and where additional training is needed for the brand to consistently provide the Customer Experience expected to meet its brand promise. Knowing your organizations place on the industry totem pole is valuable information and can illuminate specific reasons why those at the top are performing as such and how your brand can emulate this success.
Beyond measuring the way that your employees are behaving, mystery shopping programs can uncover valuable information about the way customers are perceiving new products or programs your brand is rolling out. For example, if your restaurant is introducing a new dish or item, a mystery shopper can evaluate the way that it is displayed in the store all the way to the actual taste or quality of the item. Additionally, if your brand wants to evaluate the effectiveness of a new coupon or promotion, mystery shoppers can provide unfiltered information regarding the way customers interact or perceive this new program.
The third major theme of any effective mystery shopping program is a compliance audit. This is especially important for brands encompassing the healthcare space, as well as brands that stock tobacco and alcohol products. Additionally, compliance audits can be effective to ensure that restaurants and other food service companies remain compliant with industry standards. Due to heavy regulation on tobacco and alcohol sales, as well as in the healthcare field, any brand that is not trying to monitor compliance is at risk of extreme legal and financial repercussions. It is important that your mystery shopping vendor can provide the necessary demographic of mystery shoppers that can allow you to uncover this information, ideally without any additional cost. Monitoring your employees, programs and compliance are essential components of uncovering the necessary insights and information involved with delivering the desired value to your customer. Mystery shopping allows brands to access this information because it provides an unfiltered and outside-in perspective of the way your brand is performing. Use these kinds of mystery shopping programs to unlock, uncover, and deliver an industry-leading Customer Experience.
Second To None empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences.
We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping, compliance, engagement and voice of customer solutions grounded in strategic relevance, program integrity and actionable insights. Our solutions are developed on the basis of solid research and statistical science. We achieve success through a relentless focus on quality and innovation, consultative relationships and a talented team of professional associates.