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How to utilise Mystery Shopping Companies

Choosing a reputable supplier from a large list of mystery shopping companies is an important step towards helping you evaluate your customer service standards.  At Tern we like to think our approach is unique and by partnering with a company that has been established since 1989 conducting mystery shopping research you will be able to benefit from 25 years’ worth of experience in understanding the customer journey.

We will guide you on selecting the most appropriate mystery shopping methods and a delivery to set you on the road to achieving a first-class customer service for your business. Whether you require video mystery shopping to assess face to face interactions, telephone mystery shopping for call centres or online mystery shopping to understand multi-channel delivery mechanisms.

Improving your customer service measurement can help to improve both brand loyalty and commercial performance. In choosing the right provider you can begin to gain powerful insights that reveal if your product, company or service delivery targets are being met.

Are you an Operations Manager or someone who works within the customer experience team?

If so, then you will understand that seeing the entire picture of what is happening within a business is pretty much an impossible task.  Wouldn't it be useful to have eyes and ears everywhere within your business? Knowing that you can utilise a team of dedicated mystery shoppers to support you in conducting this work will help you to provide powerful customer service data back to the business.

Missing the opportunities for gathering customer feedback?

They say that ignorance is bliss and you can’t have any problems if you don’t know about them. The benefits of mystery shopping are twofold. You can be pre-emptive in understanding problem areas which might be falling short due to managerial or structural business changes but you can also be pro-active by rewarding excellent product and customer service delivery.

Directly hearing complaints from customers can be seen as a natural starting point for initiating business change, every piece of negative customer feedback is a chance to understand, learn and instigate change. Many customers however are apathetic to submitting a complaint about a service or product delivery, mystery shopping is a service which helps a business bypass this feedback problem.


Mystery Shopping Customer Service lifecycle

Three reasons why a Mystery Shopping Company can bring benefits your business.

1. You can Measure against your unique company standards. 

We will define a measurement survey that mirrors your business methodologies.  This ensures that your embedded behaviours are being interpreted and then delivered correctly.

2. The research methods target areas you define as a priority and relates directly back to those areas. 

Mystery Shopping enables you to ask searching questions up front that you wouldn't be able to ask in a post visit customer satisfaction survey. When did a satisfaction survey last ask if the business critical procedures were followed?

3. Mystery Shopping can provide neutral and objective feedback. 

Your sales and service representative may have the ability to be natural and warm in the delivery of a service or product, but unless they deliver against the company standards that have been set out it can all be for nothing. The mystery shopping feedback you gather can be neutral and tailored to your goals. The mystery shopper has no reason to deliver anything other than an accurate account of the visit as they are contracted to deliver against a defined visit brief with no other incentive.

How do I improve my sales team performance with Mystery Shopping?

How do I improve my sales team

Why Mystery shopping is a proven method of providing insight into customer experience. 

We are all guilty of searching Google to find the answers to problems we face, and when we start searching for answers to our customer service issues we can find an abundance of articles which show how customer service and sales performance are directly related. This is highlighted by the article in Retail Times from research conducted by the Institute of customer Service, 'Retail sales performance correlates with service excellence, ICS index finds'. Mystery shopping companies can allow you to see how one affects the other and therefore shows how poor customer service is a determining factor in your overall performance.

How to get better customer service?
In order to illicit the best service from a company or individual as a customer we can, at times resort to unreasonable behaviour and any tactic we feel might gain us the attention or service we feel we deserve. As employees or business owners we know that customers can sometimes be demanding, ensuring that we treat them fairly, politely and equally will improve our chances of building long term relationships and realising their service expectations.

How to get better customer service scores?
In turn when we are measured as individuals we are able to increase our chances of improving our customer service scores and therefore our sales performance in turn. If we incentivise staff to reach these customer services goals through competitive benchmarking both the company and individuals can win.

How do I provide better customer Service?
Adopting an altruistic approach really chimes with the customer and in providing better customer service; the company, employee and the customer can gain from this approach as we see the education of the customer as the primary goal. When we educate customers we provide them solutions to problems that they weren't aware of. In making the consumers life easier we are achieving the ultimate goal for that customer and delivering excellent service.

How do I provide better customer service

How to avoid bad customer service?

We can avoid poor customer service by listening to what people have to say about a company through word of mouth, online reviews and news stories. Never has a customer had such a wealth of knowledge about service standards of a company before they look to form a relationship with them. Referrals have become more social than ever and as such the focus on customer service has become ever more important, contracting a mystery shopping company to conduct these types of exercises can also serve as a tool for supporting your reputation management by testing your ability to respond to the customer in each channel.

A Preventative or Proactive approach

How to avoid bad customer service

We all want to avoid bad customer service but more importantly as a business or company how do we prevent it. If you visit a doctor they would extol the virtues of preventative action through healthy lifestyle etc. By conducting mystery shopping you are embarking on the same preventative approach. By investing in a mystery shopping companys' ability to conduct mystery shopping as a health check, you can ensure that your business is kept in peak condition and performs better. If you find that something is wrong you can apply the medicine in form of training to heal that part of the business. If your business is working and performing well you can reap the rewards of improved performance.

Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Kate Leggett pronounced a proactive customer service approach as one of her Four Ps of Customer Service (painless, personalized, productive, and proactive). 

How should you adopt this approach to support the Mystery Shopping Programme?

From the outset you will have worked out what you feel to be the perfect customer journey. During this you may look at things like enquiry handling, store layout, adherence to current promotions and general presentation of both staff and store. The data that sits behind the visit additional insights can be drilled into to tell the stories behind the numbers. By applying insights analysis to the data you can focus on key business areas.

How we tailor the right Mystery Shopping Programme for your business.

To enable the success of your programme we adopt a guided approach which helps us to understand your business and the objectives required of the mystery shopping programme. The team follows this step by step process to allow us to guide you through the important milestones so that each individual involved understands the time scales and requirements before commencement:

Step One: Introduction to our Mystery Shopping Company approach and Sector Research

Step Two: Assigning the Account Manager(s)

Step Three: Initial fact find to check our understanding and the business goals

Step Four: Developing the Mystery shopper survey

Step Five: Becoming an extension of your business

Step Six: Learning about the Mystery Shopping Reporting System

Step Seven: Confirming the Start Date

Step Eight: Insights Presentation and Mystery Shopping Dashboard Reports

Step Nine: Review and Improve

Step One - Introduction to our mystery shopping approach and sector research.

Whether you've had a mystery shopping campaign previously or you are new to the format, we will ensure that you thorough understanding of our approach. The first step is to understand and establish the constraints of the project, the delivery schedule and the budget. By getting to know you as individuals we develop a rapport which supports us in open discussions about the required outcomes for the visits we carry out. This understanding helps us to see if there are any obstacles which will need to be overcome. Doing this helps us to deliver a robust and effective programme which both meets and then goes on to exceed your expectations.

Step Two - Assigning the account manager(s).

When we assign an account manager we ensure that they have the appropriate experience which matches your business model. Assigning someone who manages your project directly means we can facilitate a smooth delivery from signing of the brief all the way through to reports with a single point of contact.

Step Three - Initial fact find to check our understanding and the business goals

BY this time we will already know a great deal about your business. But as we initiate the project we will seek understand to the business further. We pride ourselves on having broad knowledge of current sector trends which enables us to tailor the programme to your needs. Whether this is driven be regulatory requirements, consumer behaviour or the economic challenges provided to a business, our understanding enables us to bring a unique view to the business which will go beyond the numbers.

Step Four - Developing the mystery shopper survey.

Developing a coherent and accurate mystery shopping brief lays the foundations for the programme. It is vitally important to get this element right because any business measures which directly feed from this report can either alienate or enthuse your employees. Staff should also be aware of the requirements so that have the best chance to deliver exceptional service and be rewarded for that service. The brief should be written in such a way that each element has the same scoring opportunity against either other locations or peers.

Step Five - Confirming the start date.

To ensure that our visits are conducted within an orderly timeframe we work with you to select the most appropriate start times. We will also understand if the business has any existing key dates or times that the mystery shopping should not be conducted within. This ensures that business representatives are not losing potential opportunities during key events.  

Step Six - Becoming an extension of your business.

We see ourselves as an extension of your business and as such we are a service which delivers to you with the benefit of being independent and impartial when it comes to reporting the facts. We also want to make sure that we recognise great service within your business and for companies which seek to recognise and reward excellent performance we run the Tern Awards scheme. Knowing that another party is recognising and rewarding achievement within a business is both important and vital to raising both staff morale and belief in the purpose of any mystery shopping activity.

Offering a right to reply with manager appeal process gives the chance for a two way dialogue around performance, this further embeds a culture of communication between managers and staff which is so important for improving staff performance and training.

Step Seven - learning the about the mystery shopping reports tools.

To make sure that your business is getting the most from the reports we can conduct a trial mystery shop visits phase before rolling out a wider programme. Making sure that all parties understand how to get the most out of the mystery shopper reports is key. We understand that business and staff sometimes struggle to meet in the same locations; we leverage the use of remote screen sharing technology to train and inform users groups with the business. We are also available via live chat to support you with queries and direct you to the answers you need.

Step Eight - Insights presentation and mystery shopping dashboard reports.

We will present your business intelligence through our online reporting platform and note important or interesting facts and developing trends. Highlighting previously undiscovered weaknesses and strengths, we help to facilitate a deeper understanding of the business for our clients. Business change teams can then go on to develop strategic actions to boost operational performance.

We can present a monthly executive summary. The mystery shopping dashboard reports will go on to highlight the most important areas for assessment and remedial action.

Step Nine - review and improve.

We practise what we preach and we are always looking for ways to improve both our offer to you and the quality of the programme. As your business evolves we identify new areas for focus we work with you to adjust our approach and improve the programme delivery.

We are members of the MSPA and Institute of Customer Service. For more information on the mystery shopping industry, please check out the MSPA website.

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