Best Practices in Mystery Shop Program Launch: Communication of Expectations

In a previous post we introduced the importance of proper program launch.

Best in class mystery shop programs clearly communicate behavioral expectations to frontline employees.  There should be no surprises in mystery shopping.

no surprises in mystery shopping

Brands have personality.  Brand personality is a set of characteristics associated with the positioning, products, price and service mix offered by a company.  Launch the program by communicating your desired brand personality.  While branding is a complicated mix of product, price, positioning and place, it often falls on the frontline employees to make the brand real in the perception of the customers – to animate the brand.  It is, therefore, critical that employees’ service behaviors be aligned with the brand personality.  Start the mystery shop program launch with a clear description of your desired brand personality.

After communication of the brand personality, the next step is to define what specific sales and service behaviors you expect from employees as ambassadors of the brand.  Create a list of behavioral expectations by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What specific service behaviors do we expect?
  • When greeting a customer, what specific behaviors do we expect from staff?
  • When meeting with customers after the greeting, what specific behaviors do we expect?
  • If a phone interaction, what specific hold/transfer procedures do we expect (for example asking to be placed on hold, informing customer of the destination of the transfer)?
  • Are there specific profiling questions we expect to be asked? – If so, what are they?
  • What closing behaviors do we expect? How do we want employees to ask for the business?
  • At the conclusion of the interaction, how do we want the employee to conclude the conversation or say goodbye?
  • Are there specific follow-up behaviors that we expect, such as getting contact information, suggesting another appointment, or offering to call the customer?
  • What other specific behaviors do we expect?

Remember the goal is to ensure employees animate the brand.  Each behavior expected should support this end.

Ultimately it is a best practice to give employees a copy of the actual questionnaire and shopper guidelines.  Best in class mystery shop questionnaires are composed of a mixture of objective behavioral observations and subjective impressions and comments.

what-how-why

The objective observations of behaviors form the backbone of the program.  They measure and motivate the specific sales and service behaviors expected from employees.  These observations must be both objective and empirical, answering the question, was a specific behavior observed or not?

Rating scales are the most common means of collecting subjective impressions.  Measures of how the shopper felt about the experience.  They add both a qualitative and quantitative perspective to the objective behaviors, as well as provide a basis for interpreting their importance.

While empirical behaviors are the backbone of the shop, many of Kinēsis’ clients consider open-ended comments the heart of the shop.  Subjective open-ended questions should reveal valuable insight into understanding exactly how the shopper felt about the experience.

There should be no surprises in mystery shopping.  Customer-facing employees should understand exactly what behaviors are being measured, and how shoppers are to interpret these behaviors in terms of completing the questionnaire.

In a subsequent post we will discuss communication of program administration.

Mystery_Shopping_Page

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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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