Category Archives: Mystery Shopping for Companies

Call centre mystery shopping

How to get the most out of Call Centre Mystery Shopping.

Written by James Harper – Tern Consultancy Ltd – Linkedin  23/10/2014

Automotive Mystery Shopping for Car Dealerships, Manufacturers and Auto Services  Whether it’s assessing car showroom standards, service desk knowledge or the selling skills of the dealership representatives, the evidence we gather puts you in the driving seat of your customer experience.  Our mystery shopping programmes are built to look at key moments within the customer journey to help you understand and evaluate a range of factors.  With new car sales in a dynamic period of growth ensure that you maximise your business and sales potential with greater insights on performance.  ‘UK new car market up again in August 2015, marking 42nd consecutive month of growth’ 04/09/2015  Each programme that we deliver is made-to-measure to fit the requirements of your business model. We will support you in that process with the benefit of 25 years of experience.              Call us on 01939235555  Contact Us Client Video Testimonials  Automotive Mystery Shopping  How we conduct the automotive industry mystery shopping visits.  We can audit your business whether you're a vehicle showroom, tyre service centre or car hire company, by capturing hard evidence to assess areas of importance to you. We do this by using either video mystery shopping, audio device recording or getting our mystery shoppers to complete detailed written mystery shopping reports.   Watch the sample video.   What can we cover:  Showroom standards and presentation Test drive delivery and sales representative product knowledge Knowledge of automotive finance options and dealership event incentives Aftersales quality checking With this information you can:   Understand missed sales opportunities and implement training for improvement. Identify at dealership level, areas of non-compliance and poor service Verify that advertising campaigns are launched on time and executed properly Seek opportunities to improve the consumer journey from the initial enquiry How we deliver the reports and visit analysis:  After the visits/reports have been completed you will have access to a comprehensive suite of mystery shopping reports delivered through our online dashboard.

Call Centre Mystery Shopping – Telephone Mystery Shopping

We have all been there and unfortunately it’s happening with increasing frequency, press one for sales, press two for enquiries, press three for billing and four for any other enquiry. It’s at this point when our hearts sink as we realise we are about to disappear into a labyrinth of sub menus before we get to speak to a real person. I’m sure that most of us are in favour of efficiency savings and streamlining processes but sometimes the customer experience can be lost in automated call routing systems. What we need here is some call centre mystery shopping.

How many times have you been frustrated wasting your time on hold?

Consumers will accept automated call services to a degree as they realise it supports getting better value products and services and in some occasions results in a shorter calls. That said once you manage to get through to a call handler or operative the way the call is managed is extremely important, providing anything other than an excellent service can cost your business lost revenue and lose you customers. 

Whilst mystery shopping your contact centre can’t adjust the fundamental dynamics of how your calls are routed, you can still ask your mystery shoppers to provide feedback as a focus group. By conducting call centre mystery shopping you will be able to identify issues and problems you might not have known existed with either the call routing or service levels.

Do you rely to heavily on your contact centre call board to tell you the customer experience?

The numbers on the call centre dashboard are all people with different perceptions of your business, as they listen to your call hold music there opinion is being shaped before they even get to speak to the person they need.

You most likely record your calls already so it is possible for you to review a call when a complaint is made and see where a call operative has gone wrong. You can even ask for customers to complete an automated customer satisfaction survey at the end of the call. However sometimes this does not give you the complete customer picture. You can read more about our thoughts on mystery shopping vs customer satisfaction in our blog and why a customer satisfaction responses from real customers will only give you part of the picture and is not a complete measure of service.

What are the benefits of  Mystery Shopping your Call Centre?

Using mystery shopping for your call centre, as opposed to post customer satisfaction surveys, means that you can approach the service with predefined set of measures in place.  Customer Experience Managers, this is our call as customers for you to you to understand the full customer journey for your call centre. Why wait for the complaint to shape your approach to business change. Customer apathy towards modern call centres is well documented and has taken many column inches in our tabloids, a bleak picture of our customer relationship with call centres indeed ‘UK call centre customer service ‘in decline’  Browen Morgan – Research Live.

This is why when the call is finally answered the operative should be  courteous, polite and have the ability to resolve the customer query in the right way. If you have a known problem you can address it by making  sure that you can bring a record of it to your training sessions and then use mystery shoppers to ensure that is has been removed from the system.

So have you ever wondered how good your contact centre really is?

A high number of call centres in the UK are using call centre mystery shopping as a way of regularly reviewing performance with a view to enhancing customer service and improvement training.

By conducting call centre mystery shopping you can separate the experiences out from your main accounts and complete a survey defined against company standards.

You can consider the call from a number of perspectives and the mystery shopper can score the call operative alongside the brief. You might do this might be in relation to a compliance requirement but equally the way the call is handled in terms of customer journey can be measured, just like any other mystery shopping exercise:

Before you embark on a mystery shopper programme for your call centre you might like to consider the following points.

  • Are the call centre mystery shoppers roleplaying a new or existing customer?
  • Does the mystery shopper need a fake account number?
  • How far does the role play need to extend before shopper exits the call?
  • What am I trying to measure or understand?

If you’re considering running a call centre mystery shopping programme, Tern provide can provide you with guidance and we can tailor the programme to your needs. We can measure areas in isolation or as a complete customer  journey.

For more information on how we can help contact us today. For more information on how online an telephone journeys interact with other distribution channels go to our page on online and call centre mystery shopping.


Event and Exhibition Mystery Shopping

Whether you’re a business which showcases products at a number of annual calendar events or a company which employs an external agency to deliver on site promotional advertising, the investment you make in your exhibition is significant. To ensure that it’s performing to its optimum you can employ mystery shoppers to evaluate a number of different elements of your service offer. Utilising a mystery shopping company to conduct event and exhibition mystery shopping can help your business to ensure both your demonstration stands are delivering to your company standards and are available on site when required.


Events and Exhibitions Mystery Shopping

As a company you may like to consider the following approach to your event or exhibition stand mystery shopping.

  • Is the pop up or exhibition stand manned?
  • Are your sales and promotional staff knowledgeable and approachable?
  • Do they reflect the brand as required aligned to company standards?
  • Are they able to handle sales objections and queries confident and correctly?
  • Do they close sales effectively and capture customer information if applicable?

At Tern we are experts at delivering programmes which can be tailored to you needs. We will work with you to provide a tailored mystery shopping brief which stretches your staffs ability and also  helps you to understand if the know your customer element is being captured.

The Benefits of Event and Exhibition Mystery Shopping.

When one of  countries the premier Luxury Garden Room and Gazebo companies - Crown Pavilions wanted to asses sales staff performance at one of its popular calendar events, Tern were able to provide video mystery shopping to help measure its sales standards. The staff were encouraged to review their performance and were also scored by the mystery shopper who was given a detailed role play which put the team members through their paces.

For Crown Pavilions the sales process is paramount. Sales consultants must show that they know the customer requirements and that they are also understood clearly in return. They must be able to field technical questions about the product and build and also be able to answer questions in relation to local planning requirements. They must be able to do this whilst also building a rapport with the customer with a view to being able to progress the sale.

Head of Sales Marketing at Tern,  James Harper, said: “Crown Pavilions are a progressive company and really want to ensure that both the company and sales staff maximise their potential with a view to providing excellent customer service. By providing a challenging mystery shopping brief we were able to identify some key areas for customer service and sales improvement”

Crown Pavilions Consultant, Stuart Gauld, said: “At Crown Pavilions we exhibit at between 30-40 shows a year, ranging from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to Grand Designs Live, to Burghley Horse Trails, and even county shows, a very diverse set of shows. With this in mind the strategy and delivery of our sales pitch is key. We chose to use Tern to help us evaluate our performance. We had our own stand filmed, which has been a huge success in order for us to improve the what and how we do.  From start to finish Tern provided us with what every good company should do. They listened to exactly we wanted doing and how, they made suggestions along the way to help us, and they delivered the service they said they would, in the time they set. We will look forward to using Tern again next year to help us to continue to improve.

Alongside the mystery shopping activity, Crown Paviions will use Tern’s online portal to review results and monitor performance via a customised mystery shopping report dashboard.  They 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 event and exhibition mystery shopping fill in our contact form  or call us on 01939 235555.

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 20/10/2014



Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit

Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit
Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit at Points of Sale

With confidence having returned to the UK High Street consumers are now spending with a little more gusto, Next Retail has reported strong growth and cheap credit has been cited as a reason. You can read a bit more about this in a report by the Telegraph’s Christopher Williams.  Whilst this is just one example and great news for UK business we should be mindful of the lessons learnt from the previous few years in the financial services sector. With store credit seeming to be more freely available how do we ensure that as consumers, we remain protected from our spending exuberance?  Mystery shopping how consumer credit is sold at your point of sale can be an important tool and can help to protect your business against poor sales practices. So is it time for you to consider mystery shopping consumer credit sales?

The offers at tills for store credit can seem appealing, but can carry risks for both consumers and companies alike. Consumers need presenting with the right information so that they are able to make informed decisions on the financial products they choose. As a financial product, store cards are still covered by the financial conduct authority  and it is important that any consumer credit in store is sold in the right way.

For some useful  information on consumer credit and the role of the FCA go to

As a company you can help prevent yourself from misselling and poor customer service by understanding the six Treating Customer Fairly outcomes (TCF)

Treating Customers Fairly and Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit Sales

  • Outcome 1: Consumers can be confident that they are dealing with firms where the fair treatment of customers is central to the corporate culture.
  • Outcome 2: Products and services marketed and sold in the retail market are designed to meet the needs of identified consumer groups and are targeted accordingly.
  • Outcome 3: Consumers are provided with clear information and are kept appropriately informed before, during and after the point of sale.
  • Outcome 4: Where consumers receive advice, the advice is suitable and takes account of their circumstances.
  • Outcome 5: Consumers are provided with products that perform as firms have led them to expect, and the associated service is of an acceptable standard and as they have been led to expect.
  • Outcome 6: Consumers do not face unreasonable post-sale barriers imposed by firms to change product, switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint.

So when assessing your cashier staff in relation to the sales of consumer credit products you  can be confident of the above outcomes above.

Why don’t you ask yourself the following questions in relation to the sale of consumer credit at your points of sale.

  • Are your cashiers well informed on the sales of consumer credit?
  • Do they mislead the customer?
  • Do they explain the cooling off period?
  • Do they provide the customer with all the relevant information?

If the answer is no to any of the above it might be time to consider a mystery shopping programme. Mystery Shopping Companies can work with you to build an appropriate mystery shopper role play and  by conducting mystery shopping of consumer credit sales aligned to TCF outcomes, you can be confident that you are delivering products that serve both the consumer and company well in the long term.

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 10/10/2014

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

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.