Brands, especially customer-facing ones in the industries of Retail, F&B, Automotive, Banking 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 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 large brands with hundreds of touch points and outlets, and even bootstrapped service app start ups, Mystery Shopping can be a significant investment. In today’s post, we discuss how brands can make the most of their Mystery Shopping Program:

1) On point design

It is critical that the Mystery Shopping program is designed to deliver from the get go. One significant component of this is the questionnaire. Over the years, our experience shows that questionnaires must be 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.

2) Accurate demographics of field resources

At Onion Insights, we ensure that our field resources 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 app-enabled return pick-ups for urban smartphone users, and want the service to be measured, it is critical that you inform your Mystery Shopping Partner about the specific target audience of the service.

3) Keep an eye on the outcomes constantly

Mystery Shopping results cannot be reviewed only occasionally. 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 Onion Insights uses Sassie, a technology platform that allows brands real time access to data about their Service Experience and Performance.

4) 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 customer facing staff or share best practices, and positive and negative experiences. Before you kick start 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.

5) 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 patterns of positives and negatives from a wider sample set – from field resources on an audit to experiences of real customers. A good Mystery Shopping report will identify 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 you will get out of your Mystery Shopping investment.