Author Archives: Tern Consultancy

Automotive Mystery Shopping Company Case Study

Automotive Mystery Shopping Compnay

Selecting the right automotive mystery shopping company for your sales improvement programme is important.

When one of the UK’s leading BMW dealerships– BMW Rybrook selected Tern to conduct thier video mystery shopping  we were delighted to be able to share our 25 Years of Mystery Shopping experience with this premium brand.

Rybrook understand the importance of providing a quality customer service and utilise our measurement services to ensure standards are not only maintained but built upon through continuous improvement and training.

Tern Digital Marketing Manager James Harper, said: “Working with a progressive and forward thinking business like Rybrook is key to our own success as we seek to define, advise and develop upon our service offer within the automotive sector. Not only will this approach result in a more attentive client experience for Rybrook customers but it will also mean that the dealership sales and aftersales team reaches its full commercial potential”

Dealership Principal, Gareth,  said: “Video mystery shopping benefits us because seeing is believing, so when you show somebody how they interact with customers, how they act when they are asking questions and when they’re communicating, video is far better tool for communication for employees than any other medium. For me it’s all about it making it easy and being able to deliver the objective that we’re trying to achieve and tern has helped us deliver that every single time.”

Automotive Mystery Shopping Reports

Alongside the mystery shopping activity, the management team will use Tern’s online portal to review results and monitor performance via a customised mystery shopping report dashboard.  Rybrook BMW can also take advantage of surveys with built in manager action plans, streamed best practice video content and a tracked appeals process. You can see a short sample video demonstrating our mystery shopping reports below.

Find out more about our approach to automotive mystery shopping or call us on 01939 235555.

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 06/08/2014

Hotel Mystery Shopping for Customer Services (UK)

Mystery Shopping Hotels

Mystery Shopping Hotels- Read more about the Crowne Plaza Case Study below

Hotel Mystery Shopping and customer insights specialist Tern is delighted to be working with Crowne Plaza Hotel Edinburgh.

The partnership has seen Tern monitor and analyse levels of customer service by providing a bespoke hotel mystery shopping programme to evaluate the high standards expected at the upscale hotel which caters for business travellers, and to the meetings and conventions market.

Tern Digital Sales and Marketing Manager, James Harper, said: “It’s fantastic to work with a hotel chain which seeks to deliver exceptional customer service to all those who visit. Crowne Plaza Hotels recognise mystery shopping hotels can help the staff and management  teams to achieve its overall customer satisfaction goals and ensure that Visitors and Hotel guests receive a first class stay ”

Lucja Leonard, General Manager at Crowne Plaza Edinburgh Royal Terrace said of Tern: “I was very interested to get involved in working with Tern and gaining some further insights into my business through the use of mystery shopper reports. Whilst we are receiving great reviews about our customer service & quality following our guests stay, I was curious as to how well we were handling our customers prior to their arrival. It was certainly surprising to see the results. The mystery shopper reports from Tern have meant that we have made some positive changes to our procedures and the management of leads & calls coming into the business. A winning solution.”

Delivering a first class Hotel Mystery Shopping Programme

In working with Tern Crown Plaza Edinburgh were able to take advantage of surveys with built in manager action plans, streamed best practice video content and a tracked appeals process.

To find out more about how we can help you assess your hotel conference suite sales delivery and customer service performance within the Hotel Industry and leisure sector call our team on 01939235555. Or why not visit our mystery shopping page to find out a little bit more about our approach and delivery methods for Hotel Mystery Shopping and read the case study in full.

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 24/07/2014

What is the Net Promoter Score?

What is the net promoter score?

Written by Gary Edwards – Managing Director – Linkedin Google+ 18/06/2014

NPS – A Basic Explanation of the Net Promoter Score

Often referred to as ‘The Ultimate Question’ Net Promoter Score (NPS)  has supplanted conventional customer satisfaction measurements in many organisations.  There’s good reason for this; it’s simple, effective and robust.

The NPS question is always the same, “How likely are you to recommend company/brand/product X to a friend or relative?”

The respondent is invited to grade their response on an 11 point scale (i.e. Zero to 10) with 10 being most likely.  Respondents are then framed into three categories, Promoters, Passives and Detractors.

This is done using the following metric;

Score of 0 to 6                   =             Detractor
Score of 7 to 8                   =             Passive
Score of 9 to 10                 =             Promoter

How do you measure a Net Promoter Score?

To arrive at the NPS, you simply detract the percentage of your Detractors from the Percentage of your Promoters.  Respondents who fall into the Passive category are disregarded.

The NPS is therefore described as an absolute number and not a percentage.  The number can be anywhere between +100 and -100.  Your own NPS needs to be taken in context of your industry and peer group but be aware, the range of NPS scores in a given sector are generally dynamic and can have a big range due to the calculation method.  A typical business may well generate a figure of -10 to +10 whereas sector leaders may generate a score of +60 or even more.

NPS though is essentially a tracking tool and so your initial score is effectively your own benchmark.  On this basis, where your NPS is going is arguably more important than where it started.  NPS scores generally do not flatter a business and are best suited to organisations serious about changing the customer experience rather than businesses that want to publish positive statistics.

Why should you use a Net Promoter Score?

Of course, when you have the answer to the ‘Ultimate Question’ you need to understand how you got there and what you can do about it.  The NPS system (developed by  Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company and now a trademark of Satmetrix Systems, Inc.) was never designed to be used in isolation.  To understand the motives of Detractors and Promoters, you will need to introduce further questions (multiple choice or text) to gain information that you can actually use to make changes and drive your score up.  Whether you want to make quick follow-up calls to your Detractors or work on moving more Passives into Promoters, a well thought out NPS survey/process will enable this.

Is the use of a Net Promoter System sufficient for measurement?

NPS has its own detractors.  It has been considered too simple for complex markets and some have commented that it is best used in markets where there is strong competition where customers have a greater tendency to ask friends and family for recommendations.

There is also the formula itself.  Many companies do not like the fact that respondents giving a score of 7 to 8 are disregarded especially when a business may well have congratulated itself in the past when a customer scored them 8 out of 10 (my own understanding of this is that customers giving a satisfaction rating of 7 to 8 are still in the zone of indifference and whilst generally satisfied, cannot be relied upon as ‘loyal’).

The formula also ignores score distribution in a way that would horrify many data analysts.  For example, if business A. has 60% Promoters and 20% Detractors and business B. has no Detractors and 40% Promoters then they both generate an NPS of +40.  Understanding score distribution and motives of those in each category is clearly essential if NPS tracking is going to generate any advantage.

In conclusion, NPS used in the right framework and with the appropriate sample size can be a highly effective tracking tool and can be used to drive change provided the basic question is backed-up with further fact finding and analysis.

For more information on different types of customer measurement techniques visit our pages on mystery shopping.

Do you really know how satisfied your customers are?

Customer Satisfaction Scoring

Written by Gary Edwards – Managing Director – Linkedin Google+ 12/06/2014

Is my customer satisfaction data reliable?

Reliability is everything in the world of data and gathering information on your customer experience is no different.  To develop your service model and build customer loyalty you need accurate reliable feedback on customer satisfaction levels.

Yesterday I was in the post office and as I left, a member of staff asked if I’d mind answering some questions. I was asked my opinion on a few things and the type of services I wanted from the post office. I was generally quite positive in my responses. Finally, I was asked the Net Promoter Score question. As I had waited 10 minutes to be served I gave an NPS response of 7. The member of staff hesitated and I looked down at where she was writing. She input an NPS of 10 then looked up and realised I had seen what she had done. There was an awkward silence while we just looked at each other and then she thanked me and I left.

So here is an exercise that is being conducted by a member of staff that has a vested interest in receiving a positive response. It’s a bit like when you have your car serviced and at the end, the service advisor hands you a feedback card then lays a guilt trip on you telling you how important it is that they get 5 out of 5.

Broadly speaking, these exercises are a waste of time and money. Worse still, they prevent the business from developing service and processes in line with genuine customer emotions and opinions.

So what customer feedback process do I use to stop this?

The answer is to employ feedback processes that allow customers to provide open and honest feedback at a time and place when they do not feel compelled to ‘please’ the person asking the questions.

It is also imperative to protect your surveys from false entries generated by staff members ‘gaming’ the system. There are many ways in which good technology can protect you from this and also broader approaches to the objective which can dramatically decrease the incentive to input false responses.

Achieve the best of both worlds

At Tern, we believe that customer experience measurement is best achieved by the intelligent combining of mystery shopping and customer satisfaction measurement. You can read a little bit more about this in my previous post Mystery Shopping vs Customer Satisfaction.  By understanding the culture of the client organisation and the end objectives, we can advise on how these services can be configured and blended to deliver best value.

You can also find out more about our services by visiting our page about mystery shopping.

Tern Celebrates 25 Years of Mystery Shopping

Tern Consultancy started mystery shopping in 1989 and in that year the Berlin wall fell, the internet was born, Margaret Thatcher was in power and Dawn Edwards (founder of Tern) started to help UK High Street stores by giving them a unique insight into what was happening on the shop floor.

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 02/06/2014

Experienced in Mystery Shopping for 25 Years

Tern 25 Years Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping adapts to reflect changing retail habits.

The High Street in 1989 was a different place and the internet was still in its infancy. These were important times for retailers and Mystery Shopping was a valuable new tool to help those people heading up sales and customer experience teams make service improvements for shoppers.

From that initial start Tern has gone on to provide valuable insights for businesses evolving with technology over time. Fast forward 25 years and the flip boards have long since gone and we have grown into our digital lives, however the principle of mystery shopping remains the same as it has done for years.

An experienced field team.

Our experienced field representatives have grown with us and our quality of reporting remains unique in its level of detail. We are one of the few companies to provide video based mystery shopping services. We also record audio based reports for call centres and sales enquiry lines.

And because sometimes numbers just aren’t enough, our feedback commentary tells the story behind those figures and percentages with written reports with detailed feedback in a way that helps customer experience teams focus on the key areas for action.

Our clients have ranged from call centres and high street retailers through to car dealerships, hotels and financial service providers.

Thanks to Dawn Edwards for starting Tern Consultancy and helping all of us to get the level of customer service we expect when we are out shopping, next stop 50 Years.


New Build Homes Mystery Shopping – London (UK)

Martketing Suite  New Build Homes London

Written by Gary Edwards – Managing Director – Linkedin Google+ 19/05/2014

Mystery shopping and customer insights specialist Tern is delighted to be working with Battersea Power Station Development Corporation in London who are helping to create a vibrant new community at one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks.

The partnership will see Tern monitor and analyse levels of customer service by providing a bespoke mystery shopping programme to evaluate the high standards expected at the New Homes Marketing Suite at this showcase development.

Tern Managing Director, Gary Edwards, said: “It’s fantastic to win a contract with a company which is helping to shape the London skyline. Battersea Power Station Development Corporation recognises that  mystery shopping new build home developments can help the Marketing Suite achieve its overall customer satisfaction goals and ensure their teams of staff perform to standards expected in this premium new build home redevelopment.”

Kamen Fong, Residential Sales Analyst at Battersea Power Station Development Corporation said of Tern: “Great service and quick response time. Their pitch was accurate and they managed to provide shoppers swiftly. The shop was of a high quality, with an attention to detail to match. Mystery Shopping Results were developed promptly and when we asked for the individual scores to be combined, they were delivered quickly.”

The Battersea Power Station  vision is to develop the nucleus of a flourishing urban village, homeowners will have more than a place to live. ‘They will have an entire new world to explore. ‘Spectacular’ is the word chosen by architect and masterplanner Rafael Viñoly, to describe how life will feel at Battersea Power Station.’

Battersea Power Station Development Corporation will be able  to take advantage of surveys with built in manager action plans, streamed best practice video content and a tracked appeals process.

To find out more about how we can help you assess your Marketing Suite and Sales Centre performance within the new home build and construction sector call our team on 01939235555.

Mystery shopping your favourite jewellery stores

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 06/05/2014

Mystery Shopping Jewellers

Jewellery Mystery Shopping

Jewellery mystery shopping and customer insights specialist Tern is delighted to announce a new partnership with one of the UK’s leading Multi Brand Jewellery Retailers– Hugh Rice Jewellers.

The partnership will see Tern monitor, analyse and help improve levels of customer service by providing a nationwide mystery shopping programme across the brand.

Hugh Rice Jewellers is an established brand throughout the North East area, with the company recognised as a leading Jewellery Retailer with thousands of customers.  The company currently has 8 gorgeous stores in Hull, Sheffield, Leeds and Harrogate, selling a range of recognised jewellery brands,  including  Pandora, Omega, Breitling, Hugo Boss and Micheal Kors to name but a few.

Tern Managing Director, Gary Edwards, said: “It’s fantastic to win a contract with a business that is so well known and forward thinking. Hugh Rice Jewellers recognises that our services can help achieve its overall customer satisfaction goals and ensure their teams of staff perform to the highest standards while providing a level of customer service to match.”

Tern will be send it’s mystery shoppers into stores to ensure they maintain the high standards they set. The end result is to boost customer satisfaction levels, followed by increased sales.

Director, Danielle Rice, said: “Hugh Rice the Jewellers have recently launched a new mystery shopping programme for our multibrand stores. We are delighted to be working with Tern, their friendly professional approach will most definitely help us ensure we maintain the highest standards in client experience’”

Alongside the mystery shopping, Hugh Rice’s management will use Tern’s leading online portal tern360 to review results and monitor performance via their customised dashboard.  Hugh Rice can also take advantage of surveys with built in manager action plans, streamed best practice video content and a tracked appeals process.

See the latest news about Hugh Rice from the Hugh Rice blog.

How to Design Great Mystery Shopping Surveys

Written by Gary Edwards – Managing Director – Linkedin Google+ 27/03/2014

Msytery Shopping Scores

As a mystery shopping provider we frequently get involved helping our clients with survey design because a well thought out survey is critical to the success of the programme.  Essentially a good survey will be short and punchy and contain a series of logical, objective questions.  My five golden rules are as follows;

  1. Keep the question set short and punchy
  2. Don’t ask questions about things the shopper is unlikely to remember
  3. Ensure your questions are objective
  4. Each question must only address one issue
  5. Ensure the shopper explains their scoring decisions

To provide a bit more understanding, I’ll work through each of the above.

1.  Keep the question set short and punchy

Maybe the first question you will ask yourself is ‘how many questions should my survey contain’.  The short answer is, ‘as few as possible’.

Let’s start with the ‘one question’ principle, if you asked the mystery shopper to answer just one question, you would find that the information provided was 100% accurate and reliable.  The further you move away from this principle, the less reliable the information.

Of course, a lot depends on the type of visit and the method of reporting.  If the visit is video and/or audio recorded then you can ask a lot more questions because the person reviewing the media can answer the questions.  However, let’s assume this is a plain vanilla written programme.  On this basis, we would recommend between 20 and 40 questions.

With written reporting, the shopper is working from memory so you have to be realistic in terms of what the average person can remember.  The survey will demand an answer so if the mystery shopper can’t remember, then they will simply guess/falsify the answer.  In this case, they will always answer in the positive.

So, in essence, try to limit the number of questions in the survey and don’t allow other departments to load up your survey with questions of dubious relevance.  Remember, there are too primary issues with overly long surveys;

  1. The mystery shopper will not remember all the facts and will probably end up guessing the answers.
  2. When you feedback the results to the people who matter, the results will lack focus and the key messages in your results may be lost amongst all the fluff.

2.  Don’t ask questions about things the shopper is unlikely to remember

I apologise if this sounds obvious but it is a serious issue.  Mystery shoppers will remember aspects of the visit that they interacted with directly.  Imagine you go to a function and you have a conversation with a stranger.  You are subsequently asked about the conversation you had, what they said, what you said and how the conversation ended.  It is likely that you will remember the conversation and be able to answer reliably.  Now imagine you are asked what the colour of the carpet was.  Most people wouldn’t remember but if an answer was demanded, you’d resort to guessing.

Mystery shopping is there as a service to answer questions about the customer experience which you have no other way of answering.  If you want to know if the opening hours are displayed or if there is a hole in the carpet, these things are better addressed by an area manager or at least someone who is not concealing their identity and can take notes as they move around.

3.  Ensure your questions are objective

Now that we have the focus, the next thing to consider is question configuration.  In customer satisfaction surveys, it’s good to present the respondent with multiple choice options.  A scale of 1 to 10 is great for customer sat. purposes because it allows the subtlety of responses to come through.  In mystery shop, the opposite is true.  The perfect mystery shopping question has a defined reference point and can be answered Yes or No.

Let’s take customer acknowledgement as an example.  A client may suggest a question such as ‘Were you acknowledged within a reasonable time’.  Maybe the client likes this question because it takes into account the level of trade and the circumstances of the visit.  We would advise against this and suggest including a time measurement or floor space measurement.  Our preferred approach would be to ask for example ‘Were you acknowledged within 2 minutes’ or ‘Were you acknowledged within 5 metres of the entrance’.

When you ask a question that includes a subjective element like ‘reasonable’ then the answer is open to interpretation.  What is reasonable for one person may not be reasonable for another.  Equally, how do you push through this principle in your team training sessions?  How do you get your teams of staff to buy into acknowledging customers within a ‘reasonable’ amount of time?

4.  Each question must only address one issue

In addition to removing subjectivity from the questions, a good question should only have one variable.  Over the years, I’ve seen some crazy questions which actually attempt to answer five or six different things.

Earlier, I’ve encouraged you to limit the number of questions but that does not mean questions should be amalgamated.  If you ask a question like, ‘Was the staff member in uniform and wearing a name badge’ what does the answer tell you when the shopper replies No?  Do you have an issue with uniform supply or just the fact that the assistant hasn’t put their name badge on?

If you look over your questions and you see lots of commas or the word ‘and’ just ensure that each question is only attempting to answer one thing.

5.  Ensure the shopper explains their scoring decisions

If you are reading this, you are probably in a management position and therefore you will want your project to deliver great management information.  However, most programmes are not short of graphs and tables.  What many programmes are short of is buy-in from the people at grass roots level.  This can be because they do not trust the findings of the mystery shopper.

Many surveys demand an explanation from the shopper when they answer a question No.  There are two main problems with this;

  1. It encourages the shopper to answer Yes because if they do this, they won’t have to write anything.
  2. Often the comments are little more that the question being regurgitated.  For example, the survey asks ‘Was the assistant wearing a name badge?’ and the shopper replies No.  Their comment may well be ‘The assistant was not wearing a name badge’.

We have found that the most productive method is to demand a narrative response from the shopper for each section within the survey and generate consistency by applying a minimum character count for the shopper response. This must be completed however the survey has been scored.  Many mystery shopping providers don’t like this approach because the shopper will expect to be paid a little more and it takes more effort to quality check the work.

However, when you feedback the findings at store level, you will get much more buy-in from the staff if there is a short paragraph explaining who said what and giving a general feel for the flow of the experience.  As you will find, buy-in at grass roots level is critical when using the results to facilitate change.

Hopefully that has been useful in helping you design your mystery shopping survey.  There are many other aspects to a programme to consider and we are always happy to assist our clients with overall design to ensure they get the possible return on their mystery shopping investment.

Mystery Shopping vs Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Written by Gary Edwards – Managing Director – Linkedin | Google+ 03/03/2014

In the quest to build a loyal customer base, what methods should a company use to measure customer service?  Technology has made it easier to ask genuine customers how they feel about the service provided and our feedback culture means that people are quite prepared to give up their free time to tell you what they think.  Is this therefore the end of mystery shopping?

Mystery Shopping vs Customer Satisfaction Surveys

The short answer is no.  Mystery shopping and customer sat. are two very different things and it’s only when they attempt to do each other’s job that they start to look shaky.  Let’s just start with a couple of very brief definitions;

Customer Satisfaction Survey:  Asking customers what is important to them and how they feel about your service.

Mystery Shopping: Measuring compliance with company standards.

So, let’s say you run a chain of bakery shops and you’ve noticed that despite winning every bread making prize going, you are losing customers and your average transaction value is going down.  You run an online customer satisfaction survey and your customers tell you that they are frustrated with the time it takes to be served at peak times and that whilst they buy bread from you, they buy their savouries from the supermarket.  After consideration, you re-visit your staffing levels at peak times and introduce a multi-buy promotion to boost non-bread sales.  You then introduce a mystery shopping programme and as part of this, you monitor wait times during peak periods and the introduction of multi-buy deals when buying specific items.

In this very simple example, the customer sat. exercise provided our bakery with some broad concerns which required consideration and strategic thinking.  Once a plan was developed and rolled out, mystery shopping was used to monitor implementation.  The mystery shopping programme would deliver clear regionalised results so that the company could monitor compliance and go straight to the relevant managers where weaknesses were identified.

Hand in hand, these two services work great together, especially when delivered on the same platform so correlation of data is easy.  Problems occur when the lines between the two become blurred.  You should resist asking mystery shopper for subjective feedback (for example how they felt about the service).  The sample size is too small and besides, the mystery shopper is being paid to make the visit so their subjective opinion is not truly relevant.  Equally, your genuine customers are not mystery shoppers.  They did not arrive at the store thinking about what they need to assess and if you ask too many questions, they will abort the survey or, worse still, skip through the answers without a thought just to get to the end (and the incentive).

With the intelligent use of customer satisfaction research and mystery shopping you can move more customers from the zone of indifference into the hallowed zone of affection but please consider the very different service that these two services deliver.

KEEP CALM and CARRY ON Camping and Caravanning in 2014

Camping and Caravanning in 2014

Congratulations to the team at Tern. We have just renewed our contract with The Camping and Caravanning Club and will be mystery shopping their sites up and down the country in 2014. We will be helping the club to measure the high standards that the association expects from its members and by doing so help to ensure that they remain that way.

This means that all of us who enjoy being outdoors, whether it’s in a tent or luxury recreational vehicle, cue jealousy, will get the holiday we deserve. That is why so many people look for the iconic logo of the Camping and Caravanning Club when planning a trip.

Camping and Caravanning 2014

To all of our researchers and campers, have a great year Camping and Caravanning in 2014.

Tern – The Mystery Shopping Company.