By. Neil Williamson, Grumpy Marketing Guy
The term ‘Mystery Shopper” has been around for at least twenty years. The concept behind mystery shopping is rather simple; how do your employees (or you) honestly interact with customers. While there are companies that do mystery shopping for a fee, I have found some of the best mystery shoppers are friends of mine who are not known to the client or the client staff.
Doesn’t the use of a mystery shopper mean you don’t trust your staff? No. Frankly when I have presented the results from the Mystery Shoppers staff are often horrified at the manner in which their actions were perceived. With the advancement of Facebook, Twitter and Yelp! having a consistent customer engagement strategy is critical. There are many individuals who will spend a great deal of time blogging about their experience in your establishment. These too are teaching moments; but I’d rather control the discussion with a mystery shopper program.
How to build the shopper program — with your staff. No one likes surprises so go over the goals of your customer engagement program with the staff and see if they agree. If not, revise the metrics of the program.
Here are a few sample metrics based on a winery tasting room setting:
Were you greeted on arrival in the tasting room?
Were you informed of the tasting fee prior to tasting?
During the tasting did the staff seem knowledgeable about the wines?
Were you given time to taste each wine?
Did the staff provide the history of the winery?
Were you informed of upcoming events?
Were you asked how you heard about the winery?
Did the tasting staff seem interested in your wine journey?
After tasting were you given the opportunity to retaste?
Did the staff ask for your wine order?
In preparing your wine order did the staff confirm with you the wines before placing in the case/box?
Were you thanked for your purchase?
Was your checkout handled efficiently?
Was the tasting room busy?
Was the tasting room adequately staffed?
Overall how would you rate your visit (1-10 scale)?
What could be improved?
Once you and your staff determine the metrics to be used and you let them know you will be using a mystery shopper, you will see improvement in your customer engagement. I usually bring in the mystery shopper 2 weeks after the staff has signed off on the metrics.
After the mystery shopper files their report (usually an e-mail with the questions above answered and other comments i.e. tasting room staff wearing low cut blouse, taking phone calls, kids running in tasting room, etc.) I take the results to the tasting room manager and discuss in a morning meeting and then chat with all the associates over lunch.
This team methodology allows the manager to have an opportunity to determine how to best use the information to generate better customer engagement. Usually better customer engagement results in increased sales. And really isn’t that what marketing is all about.
Image Credit: Truliant Federal Credit Union