Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tip #242: Implement a Mystery Shopper Program

According to an American Express survey, 70% of shoppers state that they are willing to spend up to 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.

How does your customer service measure up? One way to find out is to develop a mystery shopper program for your business. According to Inc.com, “mystery shoppers provide objective quantitative and qualitative feedback about their customer experience and conditions.”

7 Benefits of an Effective Mystery Shopper Program
  • Monitors and measures service performance
  • Improves customer retention
  • Makes employees aware of what is important in serving customers
  • Monitors facility conditions
  • Ensures product/service delivery quality
  • Supports promotional programs
  • Identifies training needs and sales opportunities

Many experts would advise you to hire a third-party to work with you to develop and implement a mystery shopping program that suits your business and in some cases offers consulting for how to best use the results of your findings. If you do choose to hire a third party, beware of mystery shopper scams. Look for a certified mystery shopping provider near you through the trade association Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA).

If you’re considering bypassing a third party, here’s three points to consider when creating your own mystery shopper program.

What do you wish to accomplish by employing a mystery shopper program (view the list of benefits above for ideas)? Use your goals for the mystery shopper program to determine the direction of your shopper evaluation. If your goal for the program is to measure service performance, your evaluation should focus on customer service.

It is difficult to make improvements based on results to subjective survey questions such as “did you enjoy your shopping experience?” Instead, specific questions like “Did an employee greet you with ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening within five minutes of entering store?’” If the answer to this question is an overwhelming “no,” a corrective action should be easy to come up with.

Experts agree it is best for mystery shoppers to visit your retail shop at least two to four times to set an accurate performance benchmark. "One shop every six months is so random that it reveals little," says Bob Phibbs with The Retail Doctor. "Over time, patterns emerge that make managing your customer experience much clearer."

A mystery shopper program can be a powerful tool to fix, change or improve your business, but the true value in an effective program is putting into place actionable steps to help you reach your end goals.

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