Author Archives: Tern Consultancy

Financial Services Mystery Shopping and the MMR

Countdown to the implementation of the Mortgage Market Review

With homebuyers reaching record highs are you ready?

New rules created by the Financial Conduct Authority will impact your business.

Make sure that you have a robust Mystery Shopping Programme in place.

As a business you may feel that you’re ready for most eventualities, but have you considered whether or not you have sufficient compliance and audit procedures in place ready for April. You may wish to analyse areas of conduct risk whilst at the same time gathering hard evidence for both internal audit/compliance departments and external regulatory bodies. Pre-emptive action will help your company to act in the best interests of your customers.

Questions you may wish to ask yourself as we approach April 2014:

  • Are the right affordability checks being performed on customers?
  • Are your staff offering advised or non-advised sales correctly?
  • Are you delivering the right information at the right time to the customer?
  • Do you Treat Your Customers Fairly (TCF)?

Providing excellence in all of these areas will help to minimise both your risk of engagement in mis-selling practices whilst giving you invaluable documentation which will assist you with your training and competency development. The ultimate goal should be to ensure that the customer is getting great service whilst ensuring that they are fully aware of what they are purchasing.

So how does Tern help you ensure you are meeting the requirements of the review?

For all of the scenarios above Tern, the financial services mystery shopping company specialists have the ability to gather and provide either written, audio or video evidence depending on your requirements. This is done by utilising our network of experienced Financial Services Mystery Shoppers to perform this function for you.

Tailoring your Mystery Shop Programme to help ensure responsible lending

The Mystery Shop programme that we will help you to build will ensure that all of these questions can be answered and that you are fully supported in the building of a robust second line of defence.

Evidence Gathering and Reporting

Compilation of evidence can be accessed through the Tern reporting platform with the ability to drill into detailed commentary on each individual financial services mystery shopper experience. We will help you to identify areas where you score poorly and make suggestions for remedial action. There will be no excuse for not being ready. Make preparations now to ensure that all of your processes and procedures are ready for April 2014. Contact us today for further information on conducting a Financial Services Mystery Shop Programme for your business.

Be proactive in Guarding Your Assets: Mystery Shopping

Whether you are running a top class restaurant, a local boozer or a retail chain, you want to make sure that your customers have an experience that is good enough to make them come back, but more importantly, good enough to spread the word.


It is no secret that peer-to-peer recommendations are the most powerful – social media marketing as we know it is after all built on this fact. It is also well known that people who have experienced bad customer service are even more keen to share their experience, but not just with friends and family, with the whole world – ironically through social media channels.


To ensure that customers are having a premium experience, a wide variety of industries turn to Mystery Shopping. We highlight the top reasons in a selection of industries that might make people share a bad experience over social media.

Leisure – gyms and swimming pools

  • Poorly displayed class or opening times
  • Lack of information about facilities
  • Poor hygiene
  • Broken equipment

Retail – fashion, DIY and electronics

  • Messy displays
  • Missing labels
  • Lack of product information
  • Damaged goods on display

Food – fast food, restaurants and cafes

  • Dirty or uncleared tables
  • Damaged or dirty plates/cutlery
  • Grubby washroom facilities
  • Badly presented food or drinks

Entertainment – cinemas, bowling alleys and nightclubs

  • Lack of information
  • Long cues
  • Poorly maintained facilities
  • Overpriced goods

Attention to good customer service is essential across the board, and is not industry dependent at all. Here are a few things that can be done to deliver great customer service and make the customer feel valued:

  • Be well presented
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Say hello
  • Know your product or service
  • Offer help when needed
  • Give impartial advice
  • Engage in small talk
  • Make recommendations, the more personal the better
  • Good time keeping


In a fast paced, ever connected world – it is more important than ever for businesses to pay attention to customer service right down to the finest detail. If your staff or your place of business does not meet customer expectations, you are in danger of losing your most important asset – a happy customer.

If you are interested in how mystery shopping can help you to keep your customers happy, please visit our mystery shopping page.

Or if you’ve received really exceptional service, let us know and comment below

Make the most of your mystery shopping programme

We speak to people from all backgrounds in our day to day jobs here at Tern. What we’re always surprised to hear from people who don’t use our services, is that they think mystery shopping is just about measuring performance. But mystery shopping is so much more – an effective mystery shopping programme gives quick access to new insights about your business and will in turn drive a better experience for your customers.

So how can you improve your mystery shopping programme in just 3 easy steps?

1. Know your Customer Journey

Your programme needs to look at what’s important to you as a business but also what’s important to your customer, so it must be designed looking at every part of your customer journey. Map out the journey and ensure your programme looks at everything – good and bad!

customer journey

2. Quality Implementation

Mystery shopping is no different to many other industries – quality in, quality out. To get the most out of your programme you need quality operations. The best mystery shopping companies use the best technology so as a client you benefit from quicker, dependable and more enlightening feedback. They also use the best shoppers. No one in the industry has an exclusive panel of shoppers, but those companies who train, manage and pay their shoppers appropriately, ensure they get to use the best shoppers.


3. Take Action

Finally, action has to be taken. If action is not taken, the data remains just that – data! Good mystery shopping companies will ensure the data is available in an easy to use format in real time so action can be taken quickly by the client. And some will be able to help with additional analysis. However, the most successful programmes are where the client takes the results and invests time and resources to ensure the mystery shopping programme is made integral to the running of the business alongside other sources of information.


So take action today, implement the three tips above and see the improvements in your mystery shopping programme.

To find out more about our mystery shopping services, please visit out mystery shopping page.

Is Audio mystery shopping the best of both worlds?

Video and written are two well established types of mystery shopping.  Is Audio the best of both worlds?  In this short article, I’ll try to answer that question.

audio symbol

So where does Audio mystery shopping fit into the grand scheme of things and why has it proved so popular with our clients here at Tern?  Well, Audio as the name suggests is simply a sound recording of the customer experience.   With our system, you view the mystery shopping report as usual and you click on a Play button to hear the experience.

It just doesn’t work in a noisy environment so if you own a chain of restaurants or fashion stores this is not for you.  However, in a quiet environment where two people are sat down having a conversation, Audio is a really neat solution and a great halfway measure between video and written.

Audio has some BIG advantages over video mystery shopping.  In a nutshell, these are;

  • It’s less intrusive.
  • There are less DPA issues to worry about.
  • The equipment is even smaller and easier to conceal.
  • The audio recording is better quality than when carrying out a video mystery shop.
  • There are less ‘risks’ to the client (e.g. fear of video ending up on YouTube etc.).
  • It’s cheaper.

The obvious application is in the financial services sector.  Face to face meetings can be recorded with total clarity and compliance teams can follow the conversation and spot malpractice or mis-selling.  There are lots of other applications too though and any business that prefers the hard evidence of a recording compared to a written account should consider Audio recorded visits.

financial services visual

To find out more about audio mystery shopping through Tern, visit our audio reporting page. 

Your first mystery shop is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

So you’ve signed up as a mystery shopper, you’ve been accepted for your first assignment, so what now? Lots of our shoppers are nervous about their first day – but it’s just the same as starting any new job – with our tips below, you can put the nerves away and start enjoying being a mystery shopper.

question mark man

They key is preparation, preparation, preparation….

  1. Research the company - The visit brief will give you some insightful information in to the mystery shop you’re about to undertake but you can always find out more. Take a look at the companys’ website or even google them – both of these can help with background information on the company so you know what to expect and can look more like a ‘real’ customer. They can also give you specifics such as the exact location of the business and what’s nearby.
  2. Make your game plan - Ensure you know where you are going. It may seem simple, but you will be amazed at how many shoppers end up in the wrong location. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you can even use google maps to visit the location online before the day so you can see what it looks like and even the stores nearby. And decide on your cover story in advance and stick to it – consistency is key. If you suddenly change your story, you may blow your cover.
  3. Review the report - Probably the most important thing is to look through all the paperwork you have been given. The brief will contain a lot of details about the mystery shop you are about to do. You should also look at the questionnaire you will need to complete after your visit. Look out for specific questions such as is the shop assistant wearing a badge, or were you offered a particular piece of paperwork, and remember them for when you’re actually doing the visit. Mystery shopping can be stress-free but you’ll need an eye for detail and a good memory.

And our final tip? Enjoy it. You will be much more relaxed and therefore much more likely to succeed.

If you’re interested in becoming a mystery shopper with Tern you can find out more on our become a mystery shopper page


Need loyalty? It’s not a mystery

With the trend of loyalty programmes, discounts and offers, you could be fooled in to thinking customer loyalty can only be earned with offering something for free. But that is not necessarily the case – providing excellent customer service is what the customer really wants.

loyalty cards

But how do a management team ensure this is happening in each and every store when they can’t go ‘back to the floor’ every day? This is where mystery shopping can come to the rescue!

Mystery shopping in its basic form gives companies objective feedback on the service being offered to their customers but it can do so much more.

Programmes can be set up to look at particular areas of concern whether that be the taste of food at a restaurant, the cleanliness of facilities at a gym or the follow up process at a bank. Each individual company will have areas which affect satisfaction and therefore customer loyalty and mystery shopping can be tailored to look at these.

Although the basic results are useful to have, they can really help customer loyalty when they are acted upon. By identifying issues and developing action plans to be implemented back at customer level, management can fix problems and improve the service for their customers, which in turn will result in return customer visits. Adopting this on a regular cycle will ensure service remains consistently high and any issues are identified and acted upon quickly before any negative impact on ‘real’ customers.


A continuous mystery shopping programme has a final benefit related to customer loyalty. If an employee is watched on a particular day by a manager they will no doubt do everything by the book, but then go back to their old ways. However, when staff know there is a programme in place, they will provide a continuous higher level of service as they don’t know which customer is the mystery shopper. Result – happier customers

To find out more about Tern’s Mystery Shopping Services, visit our mystery shopping page.

So before jumping to a discount or loyalty card, companies should think about service as the driver for loyalty and how mystery shopping can really be used as an effective tool for managing customer experience and building customer loyalty.

Change is Good! Welcome to the Tern blog!

A few days ago, I read a quote from an unknown author “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies” and it rang true with us after all the hard work we’ve put in to the new Tern website over the last few months. We are really pleased with the results and hope you like it too – the site has definitely been transformed in to our own online butterfly! And the final part of the transformation is now here with the addition of the new Tern blog. Welcome!


Over the coming months we hope you will visit the blog again and again as we add lots of information from shopper updates, to client information, to fascinating news and gossip from our shoppers – you will be amazed what shoppers see in their busy trips around the country! You may even see the odd update from our MD, Gary Edwards, and we hope to have a regular ‘day in the life’ post from one of our shopping team. If anyone fancies the idea of being our shopping blogger, let us know!

So watch this space – feel free to comment on the posts or give us a shout if there’s anything you’d particularly like to see on here! And if you’re new to Tern, please take a look around the rest of our new website.