How important is it to improve the customer experience?
An American Express study answers that question. Seventy percent of shoppers spend 13% more with companies providing excellent customer service.
Of course, you want to increase your sales. But how do you judge the quality of your customer service?
- Can you watch employees? They will be on their best behavior when you’re around.
- Can you ask the employees? No one will tell you that they are doing a bad job.
- Can you ask your customers? Customers may give you feedback, but they may not focus on relevant issues.
Mystery shopping companies, however, send unbiased shoppers into your stores. Their feedback can be a harsh dose of reality. You’ll know the answers to all of the above questions, and the feedback will help you focus your efforts.
There’s so much more. In this article, you’ll learn seven ways mystery shopping can improve your customer’s experience.
1. See Your Business The Way Your Customer Does
No one inside your company can give you the perspective a mystery shopper brings.
The mystery shoppers’ job is to make observations and provide statements about employee behavior, store conditions and potential problems at your stores. There is no subjectivity and no comparisons to previous visits to the specific stores or any other stores.
Use feedback from the mystery shopping program to create additional focus and improve the customer experience. Do more of what’s working. Train your staff in areas of opportunities. Give more focus to what is not working as it is intended.
2. Check Compliance To Your Benchmarks
Ever had a great idea to boost sales in your business?
You tell your staff to use this new strategy, and then nothing happens. No surge in sales. No encouraging feedback from customers.
Maybe your staff did not try the new sales technique with customers. Or perhaps the idea was a dud. Unless you have an active mystery shopping program, you’ll have no way of knowing.
When you hire a mystery shopping company, you create together a brief with a checklist of areas where you want to monitor staff performance and execution.
Mystery shoppers will be clear on the standards you expect from your staff. They will note how well your team are executing to these benchmarks and notify you if they don’t.
3. Gain Insights Into Customer Satisfaction
What makes for a satisfied customer?
The answer: a company who makes every shopping trip an experience.
So how well are you creating that experience?
A mystery shopper can take note of what your staff are doing when they enter the store.
Are they serving customers at the checkout and on the floor? Alternatively, are they clustered around, gossiping and updating social media?
As well as their interactions with staff, mystery shoppers can observe interactions with other customers. They’ll be able to give you feedback on how staff treated the other clients.
A mystery shopper can evaluate every element involved in creating an outstanding customer experience.
4. Keep Employees Vigilant
Should you tell employees you are starting a mystery shopping program?
The answer is yes, for two reasons.
First, you build trust when you tell staff about mystery shoppers. Imagine how your employees would feel if they receive feedback from a mystery shopping program you ran without informing them. Successful retailers create high-trust cultures.
Second, you get better performance from every employee. When any customer could be a mystery shopper, every customer gets treated better. Your employees stay engaged, and turnover rates will be lower.
Third, if you do not consistently review the expected customer experience with your staff, it will be more difficult to execute it.
Better behavior improves the customer experience and results in increased direct sales and more repeat business.
5. Support An Incentive Program That Will Boost Employee Productivity And Loyalty
Reward employees for doing the right thing, says Ken Blanchard, the author of Whale Done! If you give people attention for doing the right thing, they’ll do more of that.
Choose behaviors that will have the biggest impact on your sales.
One example: the number of people your staff sign up for your loyalty program. Mystery shoppers can record whether they are asked to sign up for the loyalty program or not.
Choose one behavior to focus on each Quarter. Let your staff know that the mystery shopper will include this observation within their visit.
Keeping your efforts focused on one behavior lets you see the impact it has in your business. If you track multiple actions, you will not know which ones are getting the results. This also allows you to continuously build upon each of these focuses rather than shifting from one to the next, and so on.
6. Target Training To Areas That Are Most Needed
Where should you spend money to train your staff? Are their sales skills lacking? Do they have time management skills? What is the level of customer service they provide?
The options for training are endless.
Your end goal is to improve customer experience, and mystery shopping shows you how. The mystery shopping results provide feedback about which training areas need urgent attention.
Experienced mystery shoppers can even step beyond their brief, highlighting problem areas affecting your business.
With this feedback, you can choose training programs that will have the biggest impact. You can focus your training efforts where they will make the greatest impact.
7. Make Good Customer Service Great
Poor customer service leads to reduced sales in three ways.
- First, bad experiences can drive customers to leave the store without buying.
- Second, those customers are less likely to return to your shop which reduces lifetime value of shoppers.
- Third, mistreated customers will share their bad experiences with friends. They will give their friends a list of reasons why they should not shop at your stores. You’ll lose customers without knowing who they are or having any way of reaching them.
That’s why you should always strive to improve your customer experience in any way possible, and mystery shopping is the best tool in your arsenal to do just that.
Hire a mystery shopping company with an impressive track record, remember, valuable feedback costs money; worthless feedback costs even more.
You need the kind of feedback that will help you stay on track in areas where you are doing well. It should points to the areas you need to improve. Moreover, it should expose problems and outline possible solutions.
The ultimate way to judge the benefits of mystery shopping is to try it out for yourself.