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When Mystery Shopping & Feedback Suveys Are BFF’s



Two very different programs, two sets of data. For those companies using both a mystery shopping program (objective evaluation) and customer feedback (subjective evaluation), there is a wealth of information available that may not be immediately realized. This is the type of data that, while not obvious at times, can go a long way in making the most of both programs.


If your company uses both programs, hopefully the data is housed in the same portal. If not, it is a great idea to make this happen so you can easily see side by side data to make comparisons. If it is, there are a few things to look at to be sure you are getting the most valuable information possible.


Performance discrepancies

In many programs we’ve worked with, there is interestingly not a large data difference in performance scores for the feedback & shopping programs. This is fairly consistent across clients. However, there are times when we see a large discrepancy (more than 10% difference in scores on the two programs). When this happens, there are some things to consider:

Is it company wide or location specific? If this discrepancy is company wide, it may be telling you that perhaps you are not evaluating the right things in your mystery shopping program. It could also be that what you consider to be important tasks to produce a strong customer experience may not be what the customer perceives it to be.

Location specific discrepancies may boil down to a staff specific concern if the feedback data is collected during times when shops are not done. While this can possibly be determined through only one of the programs, having two programs can help bring this issue to light – after all, mystery shops are typically done once or twice per month; coupling this with feedback data can expedite finding the issue and resolving it.

Are you limiting your mystery shopping evaluation periods? If you focus your mystery shopping program on a specific time frame, maybe busier periods vs slower periods, and your performance scores on the feedback surveys are lower than your mystery shopping scores, it might signal that you need to open up the window of time shops can occur. This isn’t always the case, but it’s something to think about. When feedback surveys ask the customer for the time frame during which they visited, it is easy to pull overall scores by time frame to see if this is in fact a concern. It may signal a need for additional training for a particular staff member or shift of employees, or it may indicate that the staff is on “higher alert” during the times they know a mystery shopper can arrive, potentially skewing the results and/or causing “relaxed” service levels during other times of the day.


Not getting a lot of feedback surveys?

Ask one simple question – include “Did the cashier/employee mention the survey at the bottom of the receipt?” or a variation of this question. Look at the data that comes back to see if the survey is simply not being promoted the right way. This is also useful if you see that a location or group of locations does not have many customer survey responses – compare it to the response for the question on the mystery shopping report. This simple discovery could make the difference in the feedback volume you get.


Use data from one to enhance the other

What pains your customers? Identify the “pain points” customers share on the feedback surveys to enhance training to overcome these issues. Take it a step further and add questions to address the pain points on your mystery shopping report to further investigate. This can easily identify issues that need to be resolved quickly.

Test performance standards. Are there features of your customer experience that you think are important to customers, but you’re not sure? Add a question to your feedback survey that asks them to share their thoughts on it – you may be surprised with what you find. This can help tweak your training procedures and streamline the customer experience – a win/win situation all around.

Both mystery shopping and customer feedback programs are important to gauge customer satisfaction and continually improve the overall experience. When used efficiently and a bit “outside the box” it can really impact your bottom line.