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The Game of Telephone: The Case For Recorded Mystery Shops

customer service

Traditional mystery shopping took a twist when recorded evaluations were introduced, both video & audio. When they first emerged, they were useful for several reasons, some of which include the increased accuracy of reporting and ability to use the recordings for training purposes.

As this type of evaluation took shape, a new use emerged for B2B companies and those with more complex business services. 

Remember the game of telephone, where someone starts by whispering a message in a person’s ear, and that person shares the message with the next person, and so on, until it gets to the last person in the chain? When the last person shares the message, it is often very different from the original message.

On a similar note, have you ever said or emailed something that was not taken as you intended?

This is where recorded evaluations come into play – to ensure messaging and information shared with prospective customers is clear, accurate, and taken as intended.

Let’s face it – you know your industry, products, and services like the back of your hand. Sometimes explaining them using jargon or terms that are every day use for you may not be clear to others. While some may understand, others may not and make their own interpretations. Or it could be something as simple as a prospective customer coming from a different perspective, taking a response to their question differently than you intended.

Benefits of Recorded Evaluations

A company that uses recorded evaluations shared this type of experience. Their business is a financial lending institution. There are a lot of regulations and information around the services they offer, so it is vital that they are not only sharing the right information, but making sure prospective clients understand what is being said.

During a recent evaluation, a shopper was instructed to ask a series of questions to better understand the company’s services. In the narrative detail, the shopper described the sales representative’s response to two specific questions. The client then listened to the recording of the interaction, because the way the shopper described the response was not quite what the sales representative said, but after listening, it was better understood how the shopper could interpret the response in the way he did.

This led the company to revisit how they explain certain aspects of their services; they realized, in reading the shopper’s interpretation of the response and comparing it to the conversation that they were not conveying the information in a way to make it clear and understood as it needed to be.

What’s important to note is that neither side did anything “wrong” – the sales representative did not provide incorrect information, and the shopper did not report the details of the interaction incorrectly; instead, it was a case of information being explained from one perspective and understood from a similar, yet slightly different perspective.

Recorded evaluations were extremely useful in this case for the company to listen to with a critical ear and compare to how the recipient interpreted the responses. Over time they were able to identify areas of messaging that needed to be updated to make their presentation and explanations better.

This is just another use case for recorded evaluations. They can be used for simple operational evaluations but enhanced by including components to evaluate messaging, communication, and improving the potential customer sales cycle. Just something to consider when your company is looking to evaluate the customer experience through mystery shopping services.

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5 Ways to Mystery Shop B2B

B2B mystery shopping

B2B Mystery Shopping To Improve Your Business

A bit more complicated than typical mystery shopping, but definitely beneficial.

Traditional mystery shopping in the business-to-consumer (B2C) model is pretty straight-forward. Mystery shoppers are sent in to a business or retail location with specific tasks and questions to answer about their experience.

Business-to-business (B2B) mystery shopping works in the same manner, with the one exception being that customers, or mystery shoppers, will pose as companies or customers calling to inquire about your services and products.

B2B mystery shopping is one way you can make sure you stay focused on delivering great customer experiences every time and also allows your business to determine baselines and pinpoint areas for improvement. You can evaluate staff performance, review processes and procedures, and ensure your brand reputation is solid.

Understanding your customer’s journey in a B2B environment takes a little more creativity. Here are a few ideas on how to approach being a mystery shopper of your own B2B organization.

1. Evaluate the Call Process.

Find out what it’s like to call in as an actual customer and ask questions: What is it you do? What types of products/services do you offer? What happens if I have a problem/issue arise? What is your return policy? (if applicable)
It’s amazing how many inbound sales departments are totally unprepared for this line of questions. And you can experience what it feels like to be an actual customer.

This also gives insight into whether your employees are upselling/cross-selling other products or services offered by your company that may be important to the customer.

2. Use the web contact form to inquire about products or services.

Is the form easy to fill out? Does it cover the pertinent information? How quickly do you hear from someone? Is the form confirmation written in a robot voice? Lots of areas to consider here!

3. Ask typical questions of the sales person.

You probably know what questions get asked the most, so go ahead and ask them. Email the salesperson back and ask random questions. Ask what happens if you want to add a service in the middle of the contract. Ask about price. Ask the difficult questions salespeople hate and see what happens.

4. Sign up for the free product trial.

If a trial is typically offered, go for it. See what it’s like to sign up, use the product, call support and then either end the trial or not. Pay attention to how many emails and calls you get. Pay attention to if the product trial lives up to the marketing hype.

5. Ask other customers.

Check out forums or communities and ask about others’ experiences. Pay attention to what they say doesn’t work. Or call a few current customers and ask them. What’s working? What’s not? Tell me what can be improved and what works well.

The best way to get a truly outside-in perspective, however, is to ask someone from the outside to do it. You’ll get honest feedback and find holes in your process easy to ignore on the outside. But any form of mystery shopping is better than none. Take a step and examine what experience you’re really delivering to your business customers.

mystery shopping

​Furthermore, fictitious accounts and companies can be created to pose as current customers to evaluate the service ordering process. From here, you can see if your employees are attempting to upsell/cross sell, offering additional products/services that are important to your customers, and the general service levels provided.

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Baseline Mystery Shopping

 

When companies have not used mystery shopping to measure the customer experience, they typically find out more than what they bargained for.

 

Typically, they start with a standard evaluation to get a baseline of what is happening in their locations. In most cases, employees are not informed that this baseline program will be happening so that companies can get a true picture of what is happening in each of their locations. This covert baseline allows for true measurement, as employees will not be “on their toes” knowing this is happening. The program typically runs with shops at a higher frequency, once or more per week, over a four to six week period across a variety of days and times of the day. This is a great start to see where employees are the strongest, and what operational procedures need to improve.

 

However, it often time reveals information that the company may not have been looking for, yet is very useful when measuring the customer experience. This is most true when companies are not already using customer feedback programs or asking the right questions.

 

Take, for example, the retail store that has several locations. They started a baseline program to evaluate the employees, determine strengths and challenges, and roll out a new training program. In the evaluation report, they asked mystery shoppers to indicate whether they’d return in the future, and their reasoning for it.

 

While their operational checkpoints were strong, with employees tending to stick to the correct policies and procedures, they found that many of the shoppers would not return because of their selection of products. A secondary theme they found among the baseline reports revolved around the way cashiers were bagging items – while this was not a part of the standard evaluation, comments in the last section asking why a shopper would or would not return revealed that many cashiers were not bagging items correctly, often times placing lighter items underneath heavier items, or not double bagging heavier items. While this was not something the company set out to find, this was an issue that was affecting the customer experience and one that could easily rectified now that they were aware of it.

 

Another beneficial question to ask is “If there was one way your visit could have been improved, what would it be?” or the offshoot “What is one thing we can do to improve?” Companies have received helpful and valuable feedback by asking these two simple questions as part of their program, especially when it’s part of a baseline evaluation.

 

It’s the little things sometimes that can really stand out when companies are measured using a mystery shopping program. Make the most of your program by asking these types of questions in addition to the objective, operational based questions to get the most impact from your program.

 

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