Customers today interact with a company through multiple touchpoints or channels, at different times of the day, and on different occasions. Their needs and expectations vary based on the situation, but all these interactions form their customer experience.
Any business knows the importance of putting the customer at the center of everything they do. According to a recent Forrester Research, over 90% of businesses believe that customer satisfaction is their topmost priority.
Consumer-centricity is what helps a business stand out from its competitors, as the trust in customer opinion can help businesses grow further and try new things. In order to make the best possible decisions with their customers mind, businesses first need to gather accurate and actionable insights about what the customers like or dislike, and the ideas they have regarding what they’d like to see next.
To this end, most businesses use the concept of Mystery Shopping. Mystery shopping is a tool that is used extensively by many retail stores, restaurants, market research companies, and other organizations in order to check the standards of service exhibited by the outlet.
The benefits associated with Mystery Shopping are numerous, and include the following:
- Mystery Shopping helps companies and/or brands check the performance and integrity of their employees.
- It helps brands understand how they can improve their delivery of the brand promise.
- It helps check on the skills of employees when it comes to handling issues in a competent manner.
- This helps the brand enhance their image, as mystery shopping programs help companies bring their customer service up to the mark.
- A company can provide a consistently strong service delivery, which ensures that customers have a positive experience.
- The appealing appearance of Point of Sale and adequate behaviour from sales staff helps convert leads into customers and drives sales performance.
- A strong service and sales performance supports advocacy and reinforces your brand’s reputation, thus additionally attracting new customers.
Employers invest a lot in training their employees to meet certain regulations and guidelines when it comes to dealing with customers. Thus, they believe that, when facing customers, their employees should serve customers in a way that pleases and satisfies them. Additionally, they expect employees to comply with the set regulations, and meet the standards of operation procedures.
In order to make the most of Mystery Shopping, a business has to ensure that their questionnaire is based on what the customer expects from the business’ employees, rather than what a business expects from them. It may not be as important to a customer whether or not the employee is wearing a badge with their name on it, as it is important to them that the employee knows all the products and can recommend a suitable product based on their needs.
Mystery Shopping helps identify potential issues, and rectify them before they actually come into place. By helping measure the success of your sales techniques, it helps identify new processes and methods to improve on the same. This helps target the right areas that need improvement. At times, Shoppers can not only see how employees are towards them but also their behavior towards other customers, helping gain a rounded outlook.
As more and more shoppers are getting accustomed to purchasing online, when they go to a physical store to make their purchases, they expect an experience that they cannot get online.
According to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), at least 50,000 mystery shopping trips are carried out online in the UK. This means that there is great potential for this service, and that it actually works.
Efficiently delivering a compelling customer experience across the various touch points is a challenge. To consistently deliver at a high level, frontline staff of service providers and sales teams need guidance and support based on appropriate customer service standards. Mystery customer research provides an objective and comprehensive view of service delivery based on pre-defined standards.
Case Study: Hope Research Group for Major Banks in India
In September 2017, Hope Research Group conducted Mystery Shopping for major banks in the cities of Bangalore and Delhi in India. Auditors were trained to observe and evaluate the banks on various predefined parameters, including:
• Access to the bank & ATM
• Appearance: exterior & interior reception
• Customer service
• Product knowledge
• Communication skills
• Follow up/closing
At the end of the study, we suggested areas of improvement for these banks.