I’ll be the first to admit, I thought Mystery Shopping was dead. Not because I had any analytical data but because I remember the rigorous process of the mystery shopping experience when I was in sales at Verizon Wireless. As reps, we were quick to identify the mystery shopper because they asked all the questions we prepared for in mock sales trainings. I continued to question the purpose of mystery shopping if the representative could immediately identify the mystery shopper.
If I put my bias aside, I can still value the importance of the mystery shopping experience. The key for a mystery shopper is to be as natural as possible. This can be difficult since traditionally a mystery shopper is paid very little and has very little professional experience. This is primarily why mystery shoppers are only used in the retail business environment and not in other industries like real estate and professional services. The mystery shopper must be experienced and have knowledge regarding the subject matter. Unlike my experience that still provides me with nightmares, if the mystery shopper is natural in their efforts then you’ll receive a realistic experience.
Whether you’re in retail or in professional services, I’ve identified two key elements to collecting data from employees that interact with customers. The first element is the mystery shopping experience. Mystery shopping provides data in a real life scenario to see how employees truly interact with your customers. Are they professional in their interactions? Were they knowledgeable about the product or service? These are key components to providing an outstanding customer experience. The second element is the monitoring experience. Many companies have discontinued monitoring their employee’s interactions with customers because they feel it’s a time when employees are on their best behaviors. However, I have found that through the “best behavior” you can identify some of their true attributes on how they speak to customers and how they represent your brand. If they are used to doing it one way when you’re not watching then it won’t be natural when you are watching.
By utilizing both the mystery shopping experience and the monitoring experience, you should be able to collect enough data to understand how your employees are interacting with your customers, and provide analytical approaches to enhancing the customer experience with your brand.