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Some advice

Inform the employees of the purpose and aim of the mystery shopping method and whenever possible, include them in the survey preparation.

Use the findings as a call for action!

Reward, don’t punish!

When introducing mystery shopping, it is important to promote a positive attitude towards the method amongst the employees. They are the key to all the benefits this method provides. Your employees are the mirror of the company. They are the frontline staff and they either make a good first impression on the client, or they don’t.

1. Consultancy

Consultancy is one of the most important initial stages when introducing the mystery shopping method into a company. When the company decides to make such an important step towards business improvement, what needs to be done first is to analyse the current status of gathering feedback information. With such analysis in place, we can then put together a list of advantages, disadvantages, weaknesses, dangers and opportunities, which can be turned into a list of actionable tasks, that can be linked together into a project.

2. Mystery shopping implementation

After the evaluation criteria – and scenarios adapted to each individual company and its characteristics – have been prepared, a group of professionally trained mystery shoppers completes the mystery purchase.

The group gathers detailed information about the condition of the premises, attitude towards customers, staff competency and their willingness to help, completion of additional sales, etc. In this way the company receives credible information that can guide further improvements in sales.

3. Analysis of the findings and further actions

So you have gathered the first information on your customers’ satisfaction. What next?

You now need to analyse the information and establish where in the sales process lies the danger of losing clients, and why.

Then you need to put together a list of actions that are required to improve the sales process and continue gathering feedback information on customers’ satisfaction.

4. The mystery shopping method upgrade – staff training

Since in today’s turbulent business world, companies need to be customer orientated, they need to provide continuous professional development for their staff. It is the staff’s role to create a satisfied client, who will return again and again.

The company’s employees are the key to it being competitive.

Warning

To create an objective evaluation of each salesperson, a mean value of three assessments is required.

The Phases of Changes in Companies that Start to Follow Service Quality Implementation with the Mystery Shopping Method

Phase 1: Denial

The most common reaction to first findings of the mystery shopping method is denial, believing that the results are incorrect. “It is impossible that our employee wouldn’t thank the customer. It is impossible she didn’t want to help him choose a product and that she was rude.”
Unfortunately, these are the most common reasons why companies lose customers.

Phase 2: Acceptance

To be able to accept the findings of mystery shopping, a few cycles of mystery shopping usually need to be completed. The management tends to deny the results of one single cycle and uses excuses, such as “it was a bad day”, or “the employee in question is the worst one”. When the visits are repeated, it becomes clear the findings are accurate and consistent, no matter the day or time of day when the mystery shopping visit is completed.

The phase of acceptance can be facilitated if the management clearly knows the goals of mystery shopping and realises that the results should be a tool for improving the service quality, and not a basis for staff punishment.

When the findings of mystery shopping are perceived as beneficial, the implementation of solutions can begin in retail outlets. Solutions can come in many different forms ranging from basic discussions with employees regarding the results in individual retail outlets, to all-encompassing organisational training. The basic solutions usually start at the level of retail outlet, e.g. the team leaders discuss it at their weekly meetings.

A good way to include the employees into the process, is to encourage them to think and discuss what happened in a specific scenario, and what should have happened. In this way everyone is participating and learning. Creative team leaders can think of different team rewards, e.g. a pizza party when the team achieves good results, or individual rewards, e.g. a designated parking spot for the best salesperson. It is essential at this stage to establish good communication between employees and the team leader.

A company can motivate the employees, so they behave congruently with set standards, which facilitates educational efforts and the company’s policies, and demonstrates that excellence is cherished and rewarded.

At the next level, the areal and regional managers can implement many of the stated techniques, in order to motivate the sales team leaders and create an atmosphere of positive competitiveness. Regular praise and additional rewards further improve work efficiency. One of the rewards the management can offer, is informal training for individuals, on key areas. Strong motivators for the employee who has had the best sales efficiency, can be to  feature in the company’s newsletter, or by announcing him or her as ‘salesperson of the month’, to name a few.

Phase 3: Suitable rewards

Following the implementation of mystery shopping and looking for solutions to improve the results and increase the service quality, come appropriate rewards. The initial goal might concern improved results, but after the rewarding has been included in the process and the work efficiency starts to improve, the initial goal moves toward service improvement, and the real goals come to light, such as:

  • improved customer satisfaction (reduced number of complaints, increased number of compliments),
  • increase in sales,
  • external rewards for service quality.

Phase 4: Employees’ self-motivation

When the company starts to receive the above mentioned rewards, the link between the mystery shopping (which is used as a tool to improve service quality) and the received rewards, becomes obvious. The company can no longer imagine work without mystery shopping, nor the return to previous levels of work success.

The employees receive relevant feedback concerning the quality of their work. The rewards they receive motivate them to be even more efficient.