The UK dining and restaurant sector is a hugely competitive marketplace and the experience of the consumer is key to the ongoing success of individual brands and the growth of the sector as a whole.
In a time where online reviews through sites like www.tripadvisor.co.uk have become an integral part of the consumer decision making process it is even more important to check that service levels are right from the start. Many companies are using ‘Mystery Diners’ to see whether their service standards exceed, or fail, against company expectations.
By Sophie Witts, 09-Jun-2015
Consumer spending on eating and drinking-out reached a record peak in May, according to the latest Barclaycard Consumer Spending report.
Creating a mystery diner programme, that is both engaging and rewarding for staff, can help to identify any areas of weakness throughout the consumer experience. Making your staff members ‘champions of the business’ can be a great motivational tool and really improve overall service standards.
We were commissioned by Sam Smith Brewery to conduct a Mystery Diner Programme to do just that. We provided them with a carefully blended programme of standard restaurant mystery shopping and under age sales testing. The customer journey was carefully documented through the eyes our mystery diners and recorded on our online reporting system.
Sam Smith, owner of the independent Sam Smith Brewery and pub chain said:
‘I can only speak very positively about Tern and the service we have agreed. There have been some challenges getting our managers to take it seriously and holding them accountable for poor service. A highlight was running a trip for our Customer Service Champions – the managers who achieved the top three scores – where they had a VIP experience at our breweries, including getting involved in the brewing process themselves. We are slowly but surely seeing progress in the service delivered at our sites.’
Commissioning Mystery Diners
When commissioning a mystery dining programme you should give consideration to some of the following points;
- Understand the mystery dining criteria against your company standards.
- Keep visits objective.
- Seek to understand performance and benchmark over time.
- Create segmented views of the business;
- For example looking at how the service level changes at different times of the day or when ordering at the bar or in the restaurant.
- Let the data identify the gaps for training your staff.
- Understand sales and service upgrade opportunities.
See some of our mystery shopping report examples and download the free mystery shop survey template to get you started or find out more about Tern, one of the leading mystery shopping companies in the UK on our home page.