From time to time, most stores will send out customer satisfaction surveys. These surveys are essential in getting to know how your customers really feel about how your store is operating and how satisfied they are with the service they have received. Some companies may be happy with the results and choose to take no action. But for brick and mortar stores who are looking to ramp up their numbers in customer satisfaction, employing a mystery shopping company may be the best way for store owners and managers to uncover the real reason why your customers are not as happy as they could be.
What Is a Mystery Shopper?
Mystery shoppers are professionally trained auditors who are able to assess your customer service department. These individuals will provide you with constructive feedback about what is working, what is not, and what could use improvement. They are trained on the qualities they need to look for when measuring how well your business stacks up in a number of ways, from customer satisfaction to your marketing strategies.
Mystery shopping audits are typically conducted in one of three ways:
- Physically within the store
- Over the telephone
- Through web contact
Businesses typically request that all three types of mystery shopping audits be performed to ensure that they are able to improve overall customer satisfaction.
What Are the Benefits of a Mystery Shopper?
There are a number of benefits that come with hiring a mystery shopper. The first and most obvious:
- Businesses Can Improve Their Quality of Service
Your customers are your greatest asset, and they will continue to shop with you if they are happy and satisfied. Because of this, businesses often sink a lot of time and capital into training their customer service staff to be responsive, creative, and satisfaction driven.
The problem here is that training does not guarantee that you have given your agents all of the skills necessary to make your customers happy. Many employees will behave appropriately while under the watchful eye of a manager or store owner, but once they leave, they may offer sub-par service.
By hiring a secret shopping service, a business owner or manager will know exactly what sort of service their customers are receiving when they are not present. Appropriate action can then be taken to ensure that the customer service agent continues to provide superior support from that point forward.
- Businesses Will Increase Their Sales
Great customer service leads to a fatter bottom line for businesses. Not only are your customer service reps responsible for delivering a high level of customer service, but your sales and marketing teams are as well.
A mystery shopping company will contact your sales and/or marketing personnel and will listen to their pitch. They will likely ask a couple of typical questions, and then throw in a few more complex queries to throw your sales or marketing rep off guard and see how quickly – and how well – they respond. Afterward, they will provide the business owner or manager with a detailed performance audit that will highlight key issues that should be addressed to improve your sales strategy.
But the marketing and sales teams are not the only individuals responsible for making a sale. The dialog between a customer and your customer service rep has a far greater impact than any sales pitch you can deliver. Fostering a higher level of trust between business and a customer is a key element in sealing a sale, something which your customer service team is largely responsible for.
- Businesses Can Improve Their Company Image
The performance audit a business receives reveals all of the problems – both small and large scale – which is having a negative impact on how your company is regarded by potential and current customers and clients.
Secret shoppers do more than simply point out the flaws of a company. They provide businesses with insight on how they can improve their branding and how they can bolster their company image. These individuals know exactly what is hurting your bottom line, such as:
- Having an automated teller rather than a customer service rep picking up the phone
- Lengthy wait times on the phone
- Leaving emails or social media contacts unanswered for more than 24 hours
- Businesses Can Protect Themselves
The trained eyes and ears of a secret shopper can spot any potential “hazards” such as theft, employee fraud, and dishonesty well before a manager may be able to. The secret shopper can quickly relay that information to the business manager who can then take immediate and swift action before they run into any potential problems later on.
- Dealing with Employee Dishonesty: Employee dishonesty requires some level of action. The level of action taken will rely on a variety of factors though it also largely relies on the evidence an employer has. If you suspect that an employee is being dishonest, secret shopper services will help you obtain the evidence you need to justly take the action you need to protect your business.
- Businesses Can Gather Customer Insight
Customer satisfaction surveys are one way to gather customer insight though they may also be subject to bias. Secret shoppers are able to provide businesses with a direct and unbiased report of how customers really feel about your business. They can obtain real-time information about what is working in your business, what could use a little bit of work, and even relay information about what shoppers would or would not buy (and why).
- Businesses Can Answer Tough Questions More Easily
Making decisions can be difficult, particularly when it comes to:
- Creating business plans
- Hiring employees
- Promoting employees
By having that feedback from a secret shopper, a business is better able to justify adjusting their current business operations and future plans. For example, a sales manager may discover that their sales script needs to be re-written to sound less aggressive and less pushy and needs to be more customer-focused. Or they may discover that an employee who was being considered for promotion is actually slacking off on the job when the manager is not watching.