Taking Action on Mystery Shop Results

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Previously we examined best practices in mystery shop sample planning.

Call to Action Analysis

A best practice in mystery shop design is to build in call to action elements designed to identify key sales and service behaviors which correlate to a desired customer experience outcome.  This Key Driver Analysis determines the relationship between specific behaviors and a desired outcome.  For most brands and industries, the desired outcomes are purchase intent or return intent (customer loyalty).  This approach helps brands identify and reinforce sales and service behaviors which drive sales or loyalty – behaviors that matter.

Key Driver Graphic 1

Earlier we suggested anticipating the analysis in questionnaire design in a mystery shop best practice.  Here is how the three main design elements discussed provide input into call to action analysis.

HowShoppers are asked if they had been an actual customer, how the experience influenced their return intent.  Cross-tabulating positive and negative return intent will identify how the responses of mystery shoppers who reported a positive influence on return intent vary from those who reported a negative influence.  This yields a ranking of the importance of each behavior by the strength of its relationship to return intent.

WhyIn addition, paired with this rating is a follow-up question asking, why the shopper rated their return intent as they did.  The responses to this question are grouped and classified into similar themes, and cross-tabulated by the return intent rating described above.  The result of this analysis produces a qualitative determination of what sales and service practices drive return intent.
WhatThe final step in the analysis is identifying which behaviors have the highest potential for ROI in terms of driving return intent.  This is achieved by comparing the importance of each behavior (as defined above) and its performance (the frequency in which it is observed).  Mapping this comparison in a quadrant chart, like the one to the below, provides a means for identifying behaviors with relatively high importance and low performance, which will yield the highest potential for ROI in terms of driving return intent.

Gap Graphic


This analysis helps brands focus training, coaching, incentives, and other motivational tools directly on the sales and service behaviors that will produce the largest return on investment – behaviors that matter.

Taking Action

Part of Balanced Scorecard

A best practice in mystery shopping is to integrate customer experience metrics from both sides of the brand-customer interface as part of an incentive plan.  The exact nature of the compensation plan should depend on broader company culture and objectives.  In our experience, a best practice is a balanced score card approach which incorporates customer experience metrics along with financial, internal business processes (cycle time, productivity, employee satisfaction, etc.), as well as innovation and learning metrics.

Within these four broad categories of measurement, Kinēsis recommends managers select the specific metrics (such as ROI, mystery shop scores, customer satisfaction, and cycle time), which will best measure performance relative to company goals. Discipline should be used, however. Too many can be difficult to absorb. Rather, a few metrics of key significance to the organization should be collected and tracked in a balanced score card.


Best in class mystery shop programs identify employees in need of coaching.  Event-triggered reports should identify employees who failed to perform targeted behaviors.  For example, if it is important for a brand to track cross- and up-selling attempts in a mystery shop, a Coaching Report should be designed to flag any employees who failed to cross- or up-sell.  Managers simply consult this report to identify which employees are in need of coaching with respect to these key behaviors – behaviors that matter.

Click here for the next installment in this series: Mystery Shop Program Launch.

Click Here for Mystery Shopping Best Practices


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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at: www.kinesis-cem.com

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