Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by Linda Taylor of MattsenKumar.
A Temkin Group study revealed “businesses can double their revenue within three years by investing in customer experience,” and another study by PWC reveals “86% of customers are willing to pay extra for improved customer experience.” Analyze these studies, and you will discover customer experience is now the key differentiator.
Enterprises invest heavily to offer and measure the epitome customer experience. NPS, CSAT, CES, and more! Businesses have tried every metric to measure customer experience effectively, but nothing has gotten close to mystery shopping in terms of accuracy. Mystery shopping offers unbiased, genuine, and unambiguous insights.
There are two approaches to mystery shopping: do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Since businesses are investing heavily in customer experience innovation, doing it themselves might cloud their judgement (although there are times when this is the right approach), which means hiring someone to do mystery shopping is typically the right approach.
Hiring someone to mystery shop your business has its advantages, including, that enterprises can be assured that the findings are going to be communicated without any bias or ambiguity. With a third-party mystery shopper traversing your business, you can be sure that no executive uses tricks to game the results.
When you hire someone to do mystery shopping, they either physically visit your store to scrutinize everything or they simply traverse your process for redundancies and inefficiencies. Hiring someone to do mystery shopping not only offers genuine insight and reveals loopholes but also answers customer experience questions every enterprise is looking for.
Let’s look at five questions that mystery shopping can answer for you.
Are the company’s brand image and value being communicated properly?
Every company functions on a set of rules they refer to as principles. These principles are designed to create a specific perception about the enterprise. Employees and executives iterate these principles until they start resonating with their customers. While most companies follow their principles adamantly, sometimes customers fail to get a hold of it.
Through mystery shopping, it is possible to discover missing links. A mystery shopper will visit your store, interact with your employees, and jot down the findings. On further analysis, businesses can find processes that are hindering the company’s principles or employees who are failing to match the standard.
Are customers confidently sharing their data with you?
Customers are willing to share their contact details and swipe their cards at offline stores, but they are reluctant about sharing their valuable details with online stores. To gain the requisite trust of customers, online stores acquire compliance certificates like PCI DSS and follow guidelines like GDPR. Such certificates and compliances cost a lot, but businesses still invest in them in order to offer competitive customer experience.
Through mystery shopping, it is feasible to verify whether such compliances and certifications have helped brands gain customer trust or not. A mystery shopper will visit the site and, just as a normal customer will, look for “SSL Certificate,” “PCI DSS Badge,” and other security checks to ensure that their data is safe.
Mystery shoppers often get in touch with customer service agents to verify the certificates and compliances.
After testing the online store against all checklists, the mystery shopper will submit his or her report, which can be further analyzed to discover the impact of compliances and certifications.
Are customer queries attended to with priority?
Customer relationship management is undoubtedly the most important part of rendering quality customer service. Contact center agents are responsible for handling customer queries. Through mystery shopping, it is convenient to conduct scrutiny and identify whether customer queries are being dealt with as a priority or not.
Customer service often requires meticulous attention to details, like no dead air space and low average hold time. Lack of attention can irk an already frustrated customer. Through mystery shopping, lack of all such nuances can be identified and reported.
Is it the product or the employees?
When a series of failures come knocking at the doorsteps, entrepreneurs start to believe that their product/tech is mediocre. A lot of times, good products fail not because of lack of market but simply because the employees failed to place the product well. With mystery shopping, it is possible to decipher whether it is the product or the employees that are failing the company.
Every mystery shopper starts with a problem and interacts with your product or employees to get that problem solved. Such intricate scrutiny of processes and employees reveals a lot and offers meticulous insight into product as well as customer service.
Since mystery shoppers are industry experts who have scrutinized various other businesses, it is easier for them to reveal whether it is your tech or your employees that is failing your business.
What is the impact of process improvement on customer experience?
A Gartner study shows that more than 65% of enterprises are willing to increase their investment in customer experience innovations. Such investments are bound to impact the overall process, which can be assessed through mystery shopping.
Mystery shopping can beat Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction surveys in revealing the impact of process improvement and product enhancement on customer experience. Hiring experienced mystery shoppers will not only reveal loopholes but will also highlight new avenues of growth.
Enterprises invest heavily in branding and process development to render an incomparable customer experience. When stores acquire vending machines or when online stores get compliance certificates, they aim to offer their customers with a new experience. Through mystery shopping it can be verified whether the actual brand image and value is being communicated to – and perceived by – customers or not.
A mystery shopper will visit your store and interact with your staff and engage with multiple machines to verify whether everything is working correctly or not. Such intricate scrutiny helps businesses understand the impact of the measures they took to improve customer experience.
Customer experience has emerged as the biggest key differentiator by beating branding and pricing. With customer experience being the new battle ground, businesses from around the world are putting their best feet forward to win the customer and the title of “best in class.” Enterprises like Amazon, Uber, and Apple are leading the way by offering incomparable customer experiences.
While there’s a lot to learn for businesses, these lessons are a good starting point to help them with course correction.
Linda is an experienced business and marketing consultant professional with a demonstrated history of working with a few of the leading SMEs across B2B and consumer service sector. Connect with Linda.
I have always been fascinated with mystery shopping! It’s one way that you can have someone go through the entire customer journey, and see what needs to be changed. Definitely a great idea!
Totally agree. But it’s definitely under-utilized.
Before, I used to think that mystery shopping is a good idea. Nowadays, I am thinking: why do mystery shopping when you can ask “proper” customers and get the real emotions instead. Any thoughts?
Hi Camilla. Fair question. There are many ways to understand the experience the customer is having today. Surveys are certainly one of those ways, and there are a ton of other ways that we can listen to customers. Mystery shopping is a powerful tool to walk in customers’ shoes and get a deeper understanding at a very detailed level. Mystery shoppers are still shopping the business like a “proper customer” would – they’re just taking notes at every step of the process! And when you mystery shop your own business, it is so amazing what you can learn about what’s being done well and what isn’t.