Mystery Shop Program Launch

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Previously we examined best practices in taking action on mystery shop results.

Obtain Buy-In From the Front-Line

When mystery shopping initiatives fail to meet their potential, it is often because the people who are accountable for the results — front-line employees, supervisors, store managers, and regional managers — were never properly introduced to the program. As a result, there may be internal resistance, creating an unnecessary distraction from the achievement of the company’s service improvement goals. A mystery shopping best practice is to ensure employees throughout the organization are fully informed and have bought into the mystery shopping program before it is launched. Pre-launch efforts should include: the specific behaviors expected of customer facing employees, a copy of the mystery shop questionnaire, training on how to read mystery shopping reports, how to use the information effectively, and how to set goals for improvement.

Provide Adequate Internal Administration

A best practice in mystery shop program design is to anticipate the amount of administration necessary to run a successful mystery shopping program. It requires a strong administrator to keep the company focused and engaged, and to make sure that recalcitrant field managers are not able to undermine the program before it stabilizes and begins to realize its potential value.

Provide a Fair & Firm Dispute Process

Disputed shops are part of the process.  Mystery shops are just a snap shot in time, measuring complex service interactions.  As a result, there may be extenuating circumstances that need to be addressed, or questions about the quality of the mystery shopper’s performance that require both a fair and firm process to dispute shop scores.  Fairness is critical to employee buy-in and morale.  Firmness is required to keep the number of shop disputes in check, and cut down on frivolous score disputes.

The specifics of the dispute process will depend on each brand’s culture and values.  Here are some ways a fair and firm best in class mystery shop dispute process can be designed:

Arbitration: Most brands have a program manager or group of program managers acting as an arbitrator of disputes and ordering reshops or adjusting points to an individual shop as they see fit.  The arbiter of disputes must be both fair and firm, otherwise, employees and other managers will quickly start gaming the system, bogging the process down with frivolous disputes.

Fixed Number of Challenges: Other brands give each business unit (or store) a fixed number of challenges in which they can ask for an additional shop.  Managers responsible for that business unit can request a reshop for any reason.  However, when the fixed number of disputes is exhausted they lose the ability to request a reshop.  This approach is fair (each business unit has the same number of disputes), it reduces the administrative burden on a centralized arbiter, and reduces the potential for massive gaming of the system as there is a limited number of disputes.

Click here for the final installment in this series.

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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