Mystery shopping-friend or foe?

Worcester city centre businesses were recently offered the opportunity to have a mystery shopper visit their premises through the Visit Worcester BID initiative.
At the evening awards ceremony there were many business owners eagerly awaiting the results and wondering if they had won in a particular category.
Although not everyone won, the feedback they received would help them go back and discuss the experience amougst the staff and hopefully improve their overall customer service. It has to be remembered that what was measured was a oneoff ‘snapshot’ picture of the business and that the service should ideally be continuous to be validated.
The Aardvarks have been offering mystery shopper programmes for the last couple of years for clients who already provided good service but who were committed to providing sustained and lasting high standards of customer care and training all their staff to be responsive to customer needs.See more here
Looking after your customers well makes excellent commercial sense – not only will they return to you time and time again but will talk about you and encourage others to do the same. Sadly the converse is also true, probably everyone has had a bad experience and talked to everyone about how disappointmented we felt.
So, should you think about mystery shopping? Here’s our checklist list of questions you should consider before you decide:
Do you regularly use feedback from customers to inform your business decision making?
Do your customers agree with what the management think are your business strengths?
Is the quality of customer care in your business consistently excellent?
Are your business key performance indicators related to customer care?
Does your business have independent evidence of the quality of your customer care?
If customers do not have a good experience what would be the impact on your business in the future?
What happens to the quality of customer care in your business when you / senior management are absent?
How many of your customers become repeat purchasers?
Do your staff ‘upsell’ to your customers?
Do your staff always arrive early for their shifts?
Do all your staff who have contact with customers (by phone, e-mail, face to face) know what excellent customer care should be?
Are your staff incentivised to get customer care right every time?
Do you have a staff appraisal process that rewards good customer care?
Do staff work effectively together as a team to ensure great customer service at all times?
Do you have regular meetings with staff dealing with your customers for training and for rewarding excellence?

Mystery shoppping doesn’t have to be expensive (although some large corporates do invest £millions each year) . It should pay dividends if you implement a well designed programme as you increase the lifetime value of each new customer and get your business talked about for all the right reasons!