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Targeting Employees During a Mystery Shop


Sometimes clients will have concerns about a particular employee, but need more data to substantiate their issues. Other times, management wants to see how employee service levels are after a training session is completed.


This is the time when clients will contact their mystery shopping provider to conduct a targeted mystery shop. This takes a bit more preparation, and, depending on staffing schedules, can be tricky. However, it can be done when the need arises.


Before contacting your mystery shopping company to conduct this type of shop, be sure to have the following information ready:


1. Is the employee’s schedule set, or does it vary week to week? How far in advance will you have the employee’s schedule to provide to the mystery shopping company? The more set the schedule is, and the further out the employee is scheduled, the better the chances of the shopper connecting with the right employee.


2. Not only a name, but give the company a good, detailed physical description of the employee in question. This will immensely help the shopper confirm that they have the right employee. Names are good, but an accompanying description is best.


3. Does the employee work in a specific department? It’s much easier for a shopper to target an employee who works in a specific area of your business. The more transient the employee is, the more difficult it is to target him/her.


4. Will this be a standard shop, looking at the same guidelines as your typical mystery shopping program, or will a separate survey need to be created? This may depend on the setting. For example, when targeted shops are requested in a restaurant/bar situation, especially with bar integrity issues, clients typically prefer a narrative heavy report so that the shopper can make detailed and specific observations over the length of the visit. In other settings, such as retail, clients can utilize the same report they do for their regular program.


The above tips are key factors that you need to think about before setting up this type of shop. It will take flexibility, and sometimes more than one attempt to get the right employee. You will also need to set up a “go to” person on your side to be ready for the mystery shopping company to contact you with any last minute “what if’s” or changes in schedule, etc.


Targeted mystery shops can provide clients with detailed information for a specific employee – this can help alleviate concerns or acquire data needed to make employment decisions if need be.



Great Customer Service Stories!


Everyone is always quick to share a negative experience with a company, aren’t they? While there are some positive stories through in, it seems that people are more inclined to share the negative.


I went in search of some “feel good” customer service stories to share, and stumbled on a great article. Not only does it share some great examples of customer service, but it also elicited many comments from readers who also shared their positive experiences.


You can read the entry from MentalFloss in its entirety, as well as the many positive comments that followed the article. In case you’re short on time, here are my favorites from the list:


1. Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s, a grocery store in the U.K., must have been pretty amused when they received a letter from a three-year-old girl named Lily. “Why is tiger bread called tiger bread?” she asked, referring to one of their bakery items. “It should be called giraffe bread.” Lily was just being observant – the pattern on the breaddoes resemble a giraffe more than a tiger. To everyone’s surprise, Chris King, a customer service manager at the chain, responded. “I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it? It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.” He enclosed a gift card, and the bread was renamed earlier this year.


2. Zappos

I could do an entire Quick 10 on Zappos customer service superstars alone, but I’ve limited it to one of my favorites instead. A customer’s mother had recently had some medical treatment that left her feet numb and sensitive to pressure – and also rendering most of her shoes totally useless. She ordered her mother six pairs of shoes from Zappos, hoping that at least one of them would work. After receiving the shoes, her mother called Zappos to get instructions on how to return the shoes that didn’t work, explaining why she was returning so many shoes. Two days later, she received a large bouquet of flowers from Zappos, wishing her well and hoping that she recovered from her treatments soon. Two days later, the customer, her mother and her sister were all upgraded to “Zappos VIP Members,” which gives them all free expedited shipping on all orders.


3. Southwest Airlines

While these other stories have been nice, this one might actually make you teary (it made me teary, and I’m a hard sell). A man was en route from a business trip in L.A. to his daughter’s home in Denver to see his three-year-old grandson for the last time. The boy, beaten into a coma by his mother’s live-in boyfriend, was being taken off of life support at 9 p.m. that evening so his organs could be used to save other lives. The man’s wife called Southwest to arrange the last-minute flight and explained the emergency situation. Unfortunately, the man was held up by L.A. traffic and long lines at LAX and didn’t make it to the gate on time. When he finally made it there 12 minutes after the plane was scheduled to leave, he was shocked to find the pilot waiting for him. He thanked the pilot profusely, and the pilot said, “They can’t go anywhere without me, and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.”


Do you have a great customer service story? Please pay it forward and keep the positive stories going!


Don’t Make Your Coworkers Look Bad


How well do your staff know your business? I mean, really know it from the ground up? For a company to work well, staff at all levels need to understand the company from all angles and departments.

Not only will this create a better staff overall, but it will go a long way in customer satisfaction. By not knowing what the “other hand” is doing, so to speak, employees can be hurting customer satisfaction and loyalty without even realizing it.

I came across a story recently where a CEO of a company found out that their onsite installation team was frustrated and morale was low. Unsure as to the cause, some in-depth interviews and “ride alongs” were conducted so that upper management could better understand the dynamics.

Come to find out that the installation team members were frustrated by the fact that the sales department was not fully aware of the company’s capabilities, often promising that things could be done upon installation that were just not possible. The installation team took the heat for this, as customers who were clearly unhappy that something could not be done when they fully expected to be, expressed their dissatisfaction and sometimes anger at them. The sales team was unaware of this because the installation team didn’t communicate this to the staff. Instead, they let their frustration bottle up and they continued to be on the receiving end of customer dissatisfaction.

After the investigation, it was an easy fix – the sales team was retrained on various sales points, as well as a more detailed learning experience about the company’s products and installation capabilities. Furthermore, each member of the sales team spent a day with the installation staff as they went through their workday so the salespeople could get a full understanding of what happened once the sale was made.

This solution was a win-win for everyone, including the company. Employees won’t always directly share the source of their frustration, and there are times when they may feel frustration but not voice their thoughts. In the end, the customer pays for this – they have no idea of what happens behind the scenes. All they know is that they were promised something that they are not told cannot happen.

Lesson learned: keep the lines of communication open, and make sure that each staff member is fully aware of all aspects of your business for a seamless customer experience. This will go a long way in creating a happy work environment and satisfied customers.