Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Mystery Shopping Reports: How To Make The Most Impact


I’ve had a few conversations this week that made me ponder this topic….each company utilizes mystery shop reports very differently, with each having their own goals in mind for making the most of the program.


The most popular uses I’ve seen include:


* The report goes to the location manager, who reviews the report with the staff involved. Everyone is aware of when the shop took place, where the employees did well, and what areas need improvement.


* The report is shared with managers and staff, but the date and time are removed from the report. Their thinking (which I am a HUGE fan of) is “it’s not the when and where that matters, it’s the “how can we improve?” I’ve seen this especially in cases where there is not a strong employee buy in to the mystery shopping program, and employees tend to try to argue low scoring reports, saying they knew it was the shopper, the shopper was wrong, etc.


* Mystery shopping reports for all locations are publicly posted for all to see – these clients see the data as a learning tool and somewhat of a “competitive” tool. Employees don’t want reports where they’re not doing well to be displayed, so they work extra hard to make sure that they consistently provide good service so their high scoring reports will be what their coworkers see.


* Similar to the above, companies will post monthly scores for all locations in a public space. This creates a sense of competition, which can be fun and motivating.


The last one is a bit more concerning..a friend shared with me that her company is mystery shopped. While not providing me with specific details, she did say she was a bit bothered with the way the results are shared with them.  There are multiple shops conducted on a monthly basis, and each month her manager will talk with each employee who was shopped and simply give them their performance percentage.


There was one time where her score was fairly low and she asked for more information on what it was that she did wrong, hoping to improve on the next shop. The manager simply said, “I can’t tell you that. I wasn’t given the actual report, and I don’t think the shoppers comment on what was wrong. Just do better next time.”


She was upset since she didn’t know what it was she needed to improve on, and I was upset for her. The point of mystery shopping is to learn what is good and what needs improvement – if that’s not shared with the staff, it can create a sense of defeat and low morale.


From my vantage point, I was bothered by the fact that something went awry in her interaction and, according to their manager, the shopper didn’t provide commentary. I realize that the days of heavy narrative based reports are fading away – people are too busy to read lengthy reports – but narrative detail IS important, especially for the questions that are rated less than excellent.


It’s human nature to want to do well and succeed. Mystery shopping reports can help achieve that goal if they are set up properly. If your company chooses not to show the entire report to the employees, that is perfectly fine; however, do share information that will help them improve. And, if you’re a company that is using a simple checklist based or quantitative only questions with no comments, it may be time to rethink your program.




The Omni-Channel Customer Experience


omnichannel experience


Just when you think you’re set with your customer experience plan….


Omni-channel marketing may be a new term for you; if so, you’re not alone. In simplistic terms, all this means is that the customer experience extends beyond the in store, onsite experience. Customers today expect more, and want to interact and do business with companies where THEY want – and often times lately that may not be in store. Omni-channel experiences allow customers to interact with your company seamlessly in a variety of ways, whether it be mobile, onsite, catalogs, apps, etc and have the same experience no matter what they’re doing. This differs from the multi-channel approach, where there are multiple ways to do business with a company, but you cannot conduct the same business at every touch point.  Companies need to tie it all together so that a customer can get what they need no matter where they are or what device they’re using.


Between social media, online shopping, and now increased mobile techonology, businesses need to expand their experience to cover all aspects – thus the term omni-channel. Most companies these days have brick and mortar locations and online shopping available. This is a good start, but it’s time to consider mobile applications to allow customers yet another way to interact and do business.


One industry where this is true is banking. According to a study conducted by Cisco, bank customers prefer various methods to engage with their bank. Yes, they still visit the branches, but find that virtual options are also sought out. The study revealed that 78% of respondents prefer web applications to pay bills and monitor accounts, and video is also becoming a trusted source for bank customers.


Think about your company’s customer touch points – are they truly seamless, or do you make it difficult for customers to reach a certain goal or make a purchase from all types of contact? Omni-channel experiences will become the norm at some point in the future, so now is a good time to work toward that goal within your company.




Stumbling Block? Think Outside the Box


Good businesses know that a stumbling block is just a block, not a challenge that cannot be overcome. It’s time to think outside of the box and find a workaround!


This came to mind when I recently shopped at Target. As always, the cashier did the dutiful task of asking if I would like to open a Target credit card. And, as always, I politely declined and stated that I did not want or need another credit card, since I always try to use cash or my debit card.


Now, I’ve said this every time this is offered to me, no matter what store I’m in, but this time I got a different response than the usual “okay” and continuing the transaction.


The cashier asked if I would like the debit card option, and started to explain that I could get a Target debit card that would be tied to my checking account, and can only be used at Target, but would still allow me to get 5% off purchases and donate to a school of my choice. I had no idea!


Unfortunately, I needed a blank check to get started, which I didn’t have on me, but it’s good to know. Next time I visit Target I will be sure to bring one.
This is a good example of a workaround to a potential stumbling block – with the current economy, many people do not want the added burden of another credit card. Target saw this as an opportunity and found a suitable workaround for those who feel this way; they can still enjoy the benefits while not adding to their credit.


On another note, it made me wonder from a customer service standpoint. I don’t visit Target too often, but as I said, I always give the same response when offered the credit card. This is the first time I’ve been given this explanation. Thinking this was  new offering, I did some digging and found that it has been in existence for at least two years now (possibly longer), but this is the first time a cashier has listened to my objection and offered a response, one that was very fitting to my objection. Had I had my checkbook, I would have signed up for it right then and there knowing this information.


It’s a good lesson not only in thinking outside of the box to get over potential hurdles, but in ensuring that training staff to listen to the customer, offer solutions, and be effective and thorough in explaining promotions or loyalty programs for the best success possible.