Mystery shopping is invaluable for all companies whose staff have direct contact with members of the public. The customer service experience is one area of the marketing mix in which increasingly organisations seek to differentiate their offering from that of their competitors and the manner in which staff interact with the customer is of critical importance.
Planning for mystery shopping
In order to ensure that the behavior of real customers is replicated as closely as possible, a key first stage is to review how contact with the client is typically made and how for example inquiries are made and how orders are placed.
- This usually includes visiting outlets/branches, listening to telephone conversations between customers and members of staff as well as detailed discussion with our clients.
- Scenarios are developed in conjunction with the client.
- A range of scenarios is used to ensure that too much emphasis is not placed on any one type of inquiry.
- Mystery shoppers are carefully selected so that their characteristics match the requirements of the project.
- Mystery shoppers are thoroughly briefed for each scenario, with role playing used to ensure that they develop the capacity to “think on their feet”.
- Observations are recorded using a carefully designed, structured and objective scoring system.
- Telephone calls are usually recorded to minimize the reliance on memory when assessing the results.
- Dedicated mobile phone numbers are used for call-backs to avoid identification of mystery shoppers.
- All telephone inquiries are marked centrally, using the recordings of the calls, to ensure consistency of assessment.
- Using mystery shopping to inform staff training and development
- Mystery shopping interviews conducted over the telephone which are recorded for the purposes of marking and quality control can often prove of additional benefit when used in the training of both new and experienced staff. PCP often attend or run training sessions around the results.
- We find that constructive criticism is frequently more readily accepted when it is provided by an independent organisation.
We have successfully carried out mystery shopping for a wide variety of organisations. Mystery shopping clients have included:
- Leisure centers
- Police authorities
- Business service providers
- Automobile showrooms
- Automotive parts suppliers