While you’re preoccupied with how many people shop your business, don’t forget to shop it yourself!
Rather you sell retail products or services (or both), a mystery shop is a great way to gain key insights. You can conduct a mystery shop by phone, online chat, web form, or even in person.
Over the years, I’ve conducted many mystery shops on behalf of businesses and have even had owners on the phone with me. The results are enlightening and worth the time. Items your team handles well can be celebrated to improve morale. Items your team could’ve handled better serve as teaching opportunities.
After you mystery shop yourself, be sure to mystery shop a competitor. I’ve been on calls with business owners who were very surprised to hear competitors doing a better job of handling calls than their own team. It can be a sobering experience, but it’s one that will help improve your business.
There are a few best practices for mystery shops:
Start with a plan
Write-up a score sheet in order to evaluate your team. This varies for each business, but here are some examples of what to include: Greeting the lead pleasantly, properly identifying oneself, finding out the lead’s name, properly vetting the lead (according to your business´s requirements), asking for the appointment/sale/next step, etc. There are a number of free worksheets available online, and for the best end result you should personalize it for your business as appropriate.
Conceal your identity
Use an outside person for phone calls and in-person mystery shops. For chats and web forms, be sure the info you provide doesn’t reveal who you are (such as a personal email with your name or initials in it)–your team will handle it differently if they know it’s from you.
Keep it positive
This means being careful with how you share the results. Depending on the outcome, you might want to review it with the entire team or it might be something better to review on a one-to-one basis. This should be a constructive experience that leaves your employees feeling energized. Error on the side of caution when it comes to publicly sharing anything that could potentially embarrass an employee.
A bonus of mystery shops is that employees are less apt to get complacent when they know the boss will mystery shop them from time to time. This encourages your team to put forth optimal effort with each lead they receive.
If you do find a shining example of how you want a lead handled, then honor that employee. This is a great way to raise morale and show the employee they are appreciated. You could even use it as part of a new hire training tool.
Mystery shopping will help you better understand your customer experiences and close the gap between expectations and reality.