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Customer Feedback Programs: The Social Media Advantage


Customer feedback programs are effective tools to learn how your customers perceive your business and provide you with feedback for improvements, but it doesn’t come without limitations; response rate is important, and making sure you’re not only receiving the “extremes” (highly positive or negative feedback only) also plays a factor in the success of your program.


One discussion across the industry is whether or not social media will become a new form, or completely replace, customer feedback programs in the future. Let’s face it – people are more likely to voice their opinions on blogs, forums, and other sites than provide that feedback directly to the company. There is also a feeling of anonymity online that allows people to be more honest in these forums.


By not keeping tabs on social media surrounding your company, brands may be missing out on potential opportunity. For example, if you’re not monitoring online conversations, you may miss the post of a dissatisfied customer. By not knowing this information and not being able to respond in some way, it can be a lost chance to re-engage that customer and get them to return in the future.
Social media monitoring tools are more sophisticated than they were even a year ago. This development provides analytical data that can be incorporated into the more traditional customer feedback data. Why is this important? First, it gives deeper information on what makes customers tick, and secondly, if can alert a company to potential challenges with their current feedback system. For example, if feedback is coming back at a 95% satisfaction rate, yet online conversations lend to a lower rate, it may be that you are only collecting feedback (or making it inviting enough) from the completely satisfied customers. Is there something you can be doing differently to encourage all customers, regardless of their experience, to share their thoughts?


It could be a case of asking the wrong questions. If the questions on a feedback survey are too general, or only focus on one aspect of your business, you may be missing out on valuable feedback. Take, for example, a restaurant’s customer feedback survey. If it asks general questions about the service a customer received and the overall experience, that’s all well and good. However, if social conversations are suggesting that customers are dissatisfied with the food quality or portion size, it may be time to take those issues to your customers in your formal feedback program. If you’re not asking the right questions, you may not be getting full information and miss the opportunity for customer loyalty and retention.


With all of the talk about companies monitoring what people are saying online, taking further steps by analyzing the information coming in, and engaging with customers, I can see how this might complement, but not fully replace, customer feedback programs.


For now, companies can think of social media as yet another tool at their disposal to learn more about their customers and see their business from the customer’s perception. It’ll be interesting to watch social media evolve over the next few years; its evolution over the last two years has been quite remarkable alone!


New Feature: Customer Feedback Scores Incorporated Into Mystery Shopping


Many clients choose to use their mystery shopping provider to dispatch customer feedback surveys as well. This is a great idea, as the data is all collected on one portal, making the data capture more efficient for companies.


Over the years, clients wished there was a way to easily see data from their feedback program incorporated into the mystery shopping report. Well, the time has come!


One of our new features allows the satisfaction score to be displayed on a mystery shopping report. When customer feedback programs capture data filtered by the location the customer visited, this data can be imported on a location specific basis.
What does it look like? Take a look at this sample mystery shopping report. The header of each report provides dashboard reporting to help clients see at a glance how the company and/or location is doing. The boxed area now displays customer feedback satisfaction scores for that period of time for both the location and company levels in this example:


Because the dashboard widgets at the top of the mystery shopping reports are fully customizable, you can choose how you’d like to see the data so it makes the most sense to you and key stakeholders.

Just another nice feature we wanted to share!


5 Tips to Keep Your Mystery Shopping Program Fresh


A successful mystery shopping program is extremely valuable in the world of business. It takes work to keep it fresh and make sure there is a general employee buy in, otherwise the program can run into challenges. Below are some tips you can use to keep your programs fresh and a true mystery to your staff!


1. It doesn’t matter when and where – many clients opt to keep the date and time out of mystery shopping reports. It’s human nature to play “guess the shopper,” and the focus can shift from evaluating employee performance to trying to recall the shopper and dispute a lower score. Set the stage early with your staff. Explain that it’s not important who the shopper was, but instead focus on what happened during the experience, noting both the good and the areas that need work. Taking the focus off of “when and who” can help if you’re seeing employees focusing too much on guessing the shopper and disputing details.


2. Don’t show employees the reports right away – there are times when a report will contain concerning information that needs to be addressed right away. However, in most cases, there is no urgent need for staff to see the mystery shopping report. When clients conduct shops on a regular basis, many opt to let upper management see the report right away, but don’t share the  report with their location staff until the month is over. Why is this? If staff know each location is shopped once a month, and they get their report on the 15th, they know they are “free and clear” for the rest of that month. By not sharing the report until the month’s end, they will stay on their toes the entire month, never knowing if they’ve been shopped yet.


3. Throw them off course once in a while – because it’s human nature to guess shoppers, employees come to learn specifics of their program – they think, “Okay, we are shopped once a month, and the shopper will visit the restroom and ask a knowledge question.” Customers who do the same things as shoppers will be suspects. Change up the program for a month or two – don’t require a restroom check, or cut out the knowledge question. Another option is to change the frequency. Maybe add an extra shop a month for a while, or allow the high performing locations to only be shopped every other month. Throw the employees off a bit and it will keep them on their toes.


4. Focus on the positive – clients’ mystery shopping programs go a long way when there is a focus on the positive. Some clients will publicly share high performing shops across all of their locations. In monthly newsletters, they may highlight locations or specific employees who received high ratings on a recent mystery shopping report. A simple and public “kudos for a job well done” can go a long way.


5. Continually raise the bar – the best mystery shopping programs are those that grow with a company. Use analytical reports wisely; when you see that scores are consistently high, that signals that the staff are doing well with current standards and it’s time to raise the bar a bit. Review your program on an annual basis at a minimum and make revisions as needed to make sure you’re measuring current expectations and operational standards.


Maintaining your program takes time, but will pay off in the long run. Consult with your mystery shopping provider on a regular basis to get insight and suggestions for your program. Because they work closely with your program and have the experience from a variety of perspectives, they can often provide ideas and suggestions to keep your program the best it can be.