Category Archives: Tern Insights

8 Mystery Shopping KPIs to Understand Business Performance

Key Performance Indicators

Mystery Shopping Key Performance Indicators

How do you find out if your store customer service is living up to expectations?

The answer can lie with key performance indicators – Mystery Shopping KPIs

There are a number mystery shopping KPIs you can use to measure customer service and the success of your customer service strategy.

Different measures will make more sense for different types of business. The benefit to mystery shopping KPIs is that they can be used in addition to or alongside existing customer satisfaction surveys, allowing you to ask the questions which can’t be answered using this method alone.

Unlike customer satisfaction surveys you’re guaranteed to get a response to the questions you need an answer to. Below is a list of different KPI measures your business might consider using when conducting mystery shopping.

1. Customer approach / acknowledgment

When you first walk into a store are you acknowledged? It’s amazing how this key fundamental first step into building a good rapport with the customer is so often left too late or not even done at all. Now we may not necessarily expect to be greeted on the door, however a timely nod to the fact that we exist counts for a lot. Even if your service proposition is more self service in nature, it is still good to build a rapport with customers. Remembering that ongoing improvements in staffing and store efficiency doesn’t need to mean the end for friendly service.

2. Rapport building with the customer

When you build a good rapport with customers you’re giving yourself the opportunity to both sell and upsell. By asking questions, showing empathy and successfully establishing the customer needs you will not only end up giving them the product they want, you will also give yourself the opportunity to present them with associated items to increase the transaction value.

Your best employees really know how to engage with customers. Make sure this attribute becomes common practice within your organisation, whether that’s selling the customer the product they need or handling objections effectively.

3. Product Knowledge

Customers buy from individuals who are clearly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the service or product they offer. By testing the gaps in your staff product knowledge you’re able to organise training programmes to fill those gaps. If you work within a regulated environment like financial services the focus on compliant selling of products becomes even more important. Research also shows us that compliant selling practice can be directly linked to our level of customer satisfaction.

4. Closing the sale

After someone from your service team interacts with a customer, how likely are they to make a purchase or take some other kind of action? If you acknowledge your customer, build rapport and introduce the right products, a good result will be very easy to achieve.

Measuring the Sales Closure

Measuring the sales process

Mystery shopping can allow you to correlate sales performance directly back to the level of customer service.

5. Average response times

Part of good customer service is resolving issues speedily. If you can respond to customers and also answer queries quickly they are more likely to be satisfied with the overall service level.

6. Net Promoter Score

And customers who are very happy with your customer service are likely to even go a step further and recommend your company to others. Your company’s Net Promoter Score, or rate of people who would recommend your business to others can be a good indication of customer service standards  and another way to measure customer service levels.

7. Competitor comparison

Even customers who love your brand might not choose you over your competitors for all purchases. So while measurement methods above are good metrics on which to measure potential success, it’s still important to see how your company stacks up against your peers. This is where competitor mystery shopping can allow you to not only benchmark your service performance, it will also allow you to check pricing and the product offer. Helping you to plug the gaps and to revise the offer.

8. Overall service measurement

By performing regular audits, you can gauge how your customers are being treated. The higher your score the greater the number of the key components of your overall customer journey processes are being met.

Other mystery shopping links you may find useful

There are a number of mystery shopping methods you can use for reporting KPIs . Whether you decide to use a standard written survey backed up with video mystery shopping, or you’re looking to measure the online customer  journey through to fulfilment.

Our service can help you to build the right kind of customer service KPI dashboard. Providing you with an independent of how your customers are being treated. See our report examples and sector coverage to see how we can support you.

Mystery shopping KPI measurement methods you could use today.

To find out how we can support your sector give us a call.


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.

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.

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. 

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.