Twelve crucial steps for streamlining Mystery Shopping campaigns
When a company decides to resort to professional Mystery Shopping services, it has already made a huge step forward in improving the quality of the services it offers to clients. However, in order to ensure an efficient implementation of the results of the mystery shopper`s actions VBS – Business Solutions specialists recommend taking these twelve basic steps :
1.Integrate mystery shopping assessments into a complex process of monitoring and improving client services. Correlate mystery shopping activities with: a customer centric policy, a training program focused on the problems discovered, an assessment of client satisfaction levels, efficient motivation methods and incentives for employees (based on service quality) and implementing a series of customer service procedures. Do not forget about management and leadership in your company; a client oriented company has to start from the management. Mystery shopping services offer an accurate and objective analysis of employees’ behaviour towards the client, an essential step in establishing the right `diagnosis` needed to improve performance, but which can only yield the desired results if it is included into an integrated monitoring and improvement system.
2.Get the staff involved. Ask the representatives of the departments directly involved, such as Customer Care, Sales, HR, Quality Control, Training, to set objectives which can be evaluated via mystery shopping services. It is essential to state clearly, from the very beginning, which are the objectives of such research, and to make sure that they meet the needs of all parties involved.
3.Design detailed procedures and quality benchmarks to monitor performance for Customer Care employees. These aspects are very important for any business, from a family owned restaurant to an international hotel chain, because monitoring must be analysed against certain benchmarks which have to be correlated to the quality requirements of each activity field, as well as to the objectives and standards of each individual unit.
4.Create the shopping scenario based on the real actions of an ordinary client and use an objective questionnaire, extremely clear and focused on the program objectives, always correlated to business growth. The mystery shopping company will offer the necessary support and advice in order to transform each objective into quantifiable questions.
5.Continuously monitor the services offered to your clients, on a monthly or a quarterly basis, in order to make significant improvements regarding client retention levels. The effects of the mystery shopping program amplify on the long term, reaching an increase in client retention levels of over 20% in 12-18 months.
6.Correlate you own staff monitoring with competition monitoring, as it is important to know what your position is compared to your competitors’ in terms of service quality. This way, you can identify and capitalize on competitive advantage. Monitoring your competitors has two major advantages: it provides a benchmark enabling you to analyse the quality of your services compared to market standards and it also has an additional marketing value which you can use to find out what your advantages are, compared to the competition’s.
7.Give accurate data to your employees regarding the benefits brought about by implementing such a program, the main goal being to improve service quality levels. This notification does not need to include the exact date of such evaluation, but rather the fact that the evaluation will lead to a psychological change in employee behaviour.
8. Use the mystery shopping program to encourage employee performance, not to intimidate them or to identify who to dismiss. The objective of this monitoring program is to improve the service offered to clients and in order to achieve this, one need to find solutions, not cast blame.
9. Request the mystery shopping company you work with to thoroughly select mystery shopping agents and to offer them training at international standards, in order to prevent any evaluation errors or any errors in creating the questionnaire. The mystery shopping agent profile should correspond to the client profile of the company being evaluated. In addition to this, there are certain qualities (attention to details, excellent memory, objective, trustworthy, honest) or additional knowledge (for example extensive knowledge on selling techniques) which are also necessary.
10. Request a complex analysis report from the evaluating company. The results should be presented clearly, they should be easy to understand and focused on previously set objectives, both from a quantitative (percentage) as well as a qualitative (the exact behaviour which has been observed) perspective.
11. Once the mystery shopping program has started and the results have been analysed, you must immediately integrate the results in the implementation program, in order to obtain the desired results. This way will also have a return on your investment in mystery shopping services. Following this monitoring process you will obtain a diagnosis as well as statistical data which can be extremely useful if used to design a strategy to improve service performance.
12. Carefully select your mystery shopping service provider. The evaluating company must have at least two areas of expertise: market research, in order to be able to design and to accurately quantify the evaluation questionnaire and ‘customer care’ experience, in order to advise management on setting up performance benchmarks for client relation services. In addition to this, the company needs to provide you with recommendations and advice on how to improve client service.
It is crucial for a company to acknowledge the importance of client loyalty in creating and maintain a successful business, by investing in employee training, in order to be able to offer exceptional services. This is why it is important to analyse the level of customer satisfaction in addition to offering ‘customer care’ training and monitoring services such as mystery shopping, because:
“How else could you improve something which is not evaluated and measured?”
Cosmina Voichiţa Meseşan, Mystery Shopping & Customer Care Specialist, VBS – Business Solutions