As a business owner, you have to keep looking for ways to further improve your sales. Usually, companies will create new products and fund marketing campaigns that will increase the promotion efforts for these new items. Owners often forget how valuable customer experience is to consumers and that this is the area they should focus on.
According to a study conducted by American Express, the majority of the surveyed individuals spent more time doing business with a company that provides excellent customer service. The study revealed that Americans don’t simply expect to receive good customer service. In fact, they’re actually willing to pay for it. Seventy percent (70%) of the participants are okay with spending an average of thirteen percent (13%) more on companies that offer first-rate customer service. Moreover, seventy-eight percent (78%) of the customers would rather choose to drop a purchase than deal with a business that gives them awful service.
These findings reinforce the value mystery shopping provides to organizations in measuring and improving the level of the customer experience they deliver.
Decades ago, mystery shopping used to be a tool to simply measure employee performance. Nowadays, it’s used by businesses in retail, hospitality, and entertainment industries to measure the quality of the customer experience they provide.
Here are the ways mystery shopping helps you improve the customer experience.
1. See your business from your customer’s perspective.
A lot of organizations use their own staff to gauge the efficiency of their service. This method has a lot of flaws and it usually results in biased observations.
Role-playing simply masks what you know about the business. No matter how hard you try to eliminate and put aside everything you know about the company, you simply can’t be just an ordinary customer. Besides, your staff knows you so they’ll give you special treatment which they don’t do usually do for typical customers.
Having a mystery shopper do the job eliminates this prejudice and gives you the perspective of an actual customer. They’re your everyday client who’s fully unaware of how the business operates. They don’t know your protocols and how employees are trained to respond to certain situations.
The feedback you get from mystery shoppers offers a way for your business to shift its focus from what you want to deliver to what consumers want to receive.
This simple adjustment in your business viewpoint can translate into more sales and increased brand loyalty.
2. Assess a marketing program you’ve implemented.
You have an idea you want to try out. You’ve researched it well and it promises a boost in sales once implemented properly. Instructions and training were conducted and the new program is ready for action.
After weeks of trying it out, there’s neither feedback from customers regarding the changes implemented nor an increase in sales. It’s like the program was never carried out in the first place.
How will you know if your staff followed the program to the letter? What if they’re doing exactly as you trained them but the program is just ineffective for the business? How would you measure it?
Mystery shoppers can gauge the effectiveness of the new marketing program you’ve executed. You can hand them down a checklist to help them objectively observe how the campaign should have affected the business sales and customer experience.
3. Know if your employees are complying with business protocols.
In the retail industry, employees have to look presentable since they represent the company’s branding and mystery shopping can help with it. It may be a minor thing to some but it’s an important part of the customer experience your business promotes.
How will you know if your employees are always following the dress code? Are they following the protocol you’ve trained them to operate on? An ordinary customer won’t be able to distinguish whether staff is treating them properly or not, in accordance with the business’s practices.
On the other hand, you can have a trained mystery shopper help you identify compliance issues within your staffing.
4. Evaluate how your employees are doing.
Assessing how your employees are doing their job has a significant effect on the customer experience your business provides. They represent your business so you must make sure they’re giving their best to every customer they encounter.
A mystery shopper can help you evaluate the integrity, professionalism, and the business knowledge that your employees exhibit. If there’s a weakness in the way they handle customers, you can develop a training program that will improve their performance. Remember to invest in your employees so they can also invest in your customers.
Regularly conducting a mystery shopping program also allows you to compare your past and present performances in relation to the customer experience. It will give you a clear view on whether you remain consistent with your practices or you need to fix a few things for improvement.
5. Employees will work at their peak performance.
There are opposing views on whether you should tell your employees or keep it a secret that you’re conducting a mystery shopping program. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, so the basis of your decision will depend on your objectives for conducting the program. We recommend that you tell them about this as part of the organization’s transparency on management decisions.
Letting them know that you’re conducting a mystery shopping program to gauge their performance contributes to building trust. You don’t want to be caught off guard and get rated by someone who doesn’t know what you’re doing, right? The same goes for your employees. Besides, the best organizations are founded on a good relationship and solid trust between employers and employees, so it would be better to practice transparency.
Another advantage of mystery shopping is that they’ll be more vigilant with their actions. They’ll always treat every customer special since they won’t know if the one they’re talking to is the mystery shopper. The engaging interaction your employees provide will reflect the quality of the customer experience you want to achieve.
Implementing a mystery shopping program also boosts employee productivity. To maximize its advantages, you can also conduct an incentive program that will award employees for achieving specific goals. This may include perfect attendance, sales conversion, referrals, and membership sign-ups.
6. Take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.
The information a mystery shopper provides can be used to review your business processes and practices. You’ll get a better picture of your strengths and weaknesses which will help you develop better business procedures that will benefit your customers.
Mystery shoppers can pinpoint the things you need to improve on and the areas your business excels in. When you have someone affiliated with your company do the assessment, they have a greater tendency to skip things that will just translate to more work on their part. You obviously don’t want this to happen since this is contrary to what you want to achieve in the first place which is an unbiased assessment.
7. Tap deeper into what your customers want to get.
Mystery shopping agencies like SeeLevel HX can help you create programs that lean more on customer behavior. Their research can dig deeper into the emotional level of your customers and identify the experiences they want to have whenever they do business with you. The information they gather from the research can help you develop business cases, service designs, company policies, and marketing campaigns that will help improve your brand.
Remember that the level of customer satisfaction you provide can spell the difference whether your clients will remember your brand and do business with you again or forget that you even exist. Moreover, this can greatly affect the way they share and promote your business with their peers.
8. Analyze your competition.
Keeping tabs on how competitors are doing is a sound business strategy. With the help of a mystery shopper, you can gain a better understanding of how competing organizations conduct their business.
You can identify which things work for them and which don’t. You can mimic or improve upon the processes that work for them and ditch those that aren’t applicable to your business.
Determine the practices they employ that give them a solid customer base. Innovate on your findings and apply it on your own procedures. Not only can this improve the way you handle customers but also help position your business ahead of the pack.
Aside from the quality of the product a business provides, consumers also focus on the level of customer service they receive. Customer satisfaction can spell the difference between brand loyalty and aversion. Now that the battle for price and quality among competing businesses is neck and neck, people look for the one that can give them better service.
Take note that customers don’t just buy the products you sell. The quality of customer service you provide and the company’s credibility are also factored into their purchasing decisions.
Evaluating the level of customer experience you give can be objectively measured with the help of mystery shopping. Agencies like SeeLevel HX have solutions that can give actionable insights on how to further improve the quality of customer satisfaction your business provides.