Why Mystery Shopping Programs Go Stale
By Ron Welty, Founder & Chief Client Officer
Mystery shopping is a great way to gauge customer experience. Shoppers are deployed to objectively evaluate their experience and report their observations. Their feedback is then used to create rewards programs, validate practices, train associates, and improve the customer experience. Simple enough, right?
Mystery shopping done properly is an incredibly effective method to improve customer service programs. When poorly executed, however, mystery shopping programs can fall flat and miss their predicted return on investment. The causes for low-return mystery shop programs aren’t as simple as the amount of money invested or how frequently you shop your business. Over our past 20 years of service, here are the top reasons new clients have come to us to reinvigorate their stale mystery shopping programs.
One-Size-Fits-All Mystery Shop Reports
Many mystery shopping companies provide their shoppers with a standard, one-size-fits-all checklist for them to rate their experience. Was the store clean? Were you greeted upon arrival? Was the associate friendly? On the surface, the answers to these questions are important. Without greater context, however, they tend to be overly subjective and don’t provide the insights needed to determine why your customers experience your brand the way they do.
Customized mystery shopper questionnaires ensure deeper and more objective information. Answers should include a combination of multiple choice or scored points, along with highly-detailed, story-like comments that allow you to fully understand the customer experience.
No Mystery Shopper Quality Assurance
Unfortunately, not every mystery shopper will write a thorough and detailed report. One bad mystery shopper report that lacks details and explanations won’t ruin a program. Failed mystery shopping programs occur when the provider doesn’t offer an aggressive quality assurance process for submitted mystery shop reports.
A committed mystery shop partner reviews and validates each and every report, line-by-line before the information ever reaches your inbox. You should have full confidence in each report and all the results. Your mystery shopping company should have a quality assurance process in place that ensures that goal.
Data is Hard to Access or Understand
Struggling to access or understand the data you’re given is a common reason why mystery shopping programs flop. Too often, mystery shopping companies simply provide a data dump of the shop information. Without any efforts to analyze the results or provide you guidance or recommendations, you’re left with a lot of information but little meaning. Ultimately, the pile of information remains unmined and undervalued and no path toward improvement is implemented.
A true mystery shopping company partner provides you with data that is both easily accessible and comprehendible. Data should be accessible 24/7 online with real-time functionality. Most importantly, the findings should be analyzed and reported in a story-like narrative that gives you a real sense of its meaning to your company’s performance. Your mystery shopping company should also demonstrate the desire to meet with you to review the results. During this time, they should provide guidance for best practices and continuous improvement to ensure your program is a success and you get the positive ROI you’re seeking.
Little-to-No Buy-In from Your Team
A failed program isn’t necessarily the result of the mystery shopping service provider. Mystery shopping programs often fail to reach their potential because your associates never followed through on the prescribed next steps. Actionable insights are critical, but they only provide improvement when your entire team—from front-line associates to supervisors to executives—completely buys in to your mystery shopping program and is willing to execute improvements.
The simple first step in creating buy-in is to make your team aware of the program and its goals. Mystery shopping programs aren’t meant to be a secret. Proper associate program introduction overcomes potential resistance to the changes necessary for success. It also ensures associates understand what you are measuring, why you are measuring, and how you’d like them to help. Sharing the mystery shop results and recommendations helps associates understand how the mystery shopping program will positively benefit them both individually and as an entire organization. Sometimes, offering incentives through associate rewards programs can help get everybody on board with the new practices.
Get a Positive Return on Investment for Your Mystery Shopping Program
When choosing a mystery shopping company, IntelliShop understands what it means to create exceptional customer experiences. We practice what we preach by putting you, the customer, first and going above and beyond to deliver the positive ROI your business needs to succeed.
Our mystery shopping programs will tell you exactly how customers interact with your brand at each touchpoint to help your customer experience go from good to great. By tracking the entire customer journey, we present our findings to you in a detailed, actionable InSite™ report to create a strategy that will improve customer experience at your organization. Just ask our clients—there’s a reason we’ve never lost a customer.
Contact us today to explore what a mystery shopping partnership with your business could like.