Mystery Shopping Gap Analysis: Identify Service Attributes with Highest Potential for ROI

Research without call to action may be interesting, but in the end, not very useful.

This is particularly true with customer experience research.  It is incumbent on customer experience researchers to give management research tools which will identify clear call to action items –items in which investments will yield the highest return on investment (ROI) in terms of meeting management’s customer experience objectives.   This post introduces a simple intuitive mystery shopping analysis technique that identifies the service behaviors with the highest potential for ROI in terms of achieving these objectives.

Mystery shopping gap analysis is a simple three-step analytical technique.

Step 1: Identify the Key Objective of the Customer Experience

The first step is to identify the key objective of the customer experience.  Ask yourself, “How do we want the customer to think, feel or act as a result of the customer experience?”

For example:

  • Do you want the customer to have increased purchase intent?
  • Do you want the customer to have increased return intent?
  • Do you want the customer to have increased loyalty?

Let’s assume the key objective is increased purchase intent.  At the conclusion of the customer experience you want the customer to have increased purchase intent.

Next draft a research question to serve as a dependent variable measuring the customer’s purchase intent.  Dependent variables are those which are influenced or dependent on the behaviors measured in the mystery shop.

Step 2: Determine Strength of the Relationship of this Key Customer Experience Objective

After fielding the mystery shop study, and collecting a statistically significant number of shops, the next step is to determine the strength of the relationship between this key customer experience measure (the dependent variable) and each behavior or service attribute measured (independent variable).  There are a number of ways to determine the strength of the relationship, perhaps the easiest is a simple cross-tabulation of the results.  Cross tabulation groups all the shops with positive purchase intent and all the shops with negative purchase intent together and makes comparisons between the two groups.  The greater the difference in the frequency of a given behavior or service attribute between shops with positive purchase intent compared to negative, the stronger the relationship to purchase intent.

The result of this cross-tabulation yields a measure of the importance of each behavior or service attribute.  Those with stronger relationships to purchase intent are deemed more important than those with weaker relationships to purchase intent.

Step 3: Plot the Performance of Each Behavior Relative to Its Relationship to the Key Customer Experience Objective

The third and final step in this analysis to plot the importance of each behavior relative to the performance of each behavior together on a 2-dimensional quadrant chart, where one axis is the importance of the behavior and the other is its performance or the frequency with which it is observed.

Interpretation

Interpreting the results of this quadrant analysis is fairly simple.    Behaviors with above average importance and below average performance are the “high potential” behaviors.  These are the behaviors with the highest potential for return on investment (ROI) in terms of driving purchase intent.  These are the behaviors to prioritize investments in training, incentives and rewards.  These are the behaviors which will yield the highest ROI.

The rest of the behaviors are prioritized as follows:

Those with the high importance and high performance are the next priority.  They are the behaviors to maintain.  They are important and employees perform them frequently, so invest to maintain their performance.

Those with low importance are low performance are areas to address if resources are available.

Finally, behaviors or service attributes with low importance yet high performance are in no need of investment.  They are performed with a high degree of frequency, but not very important, and will not yield an ROI in terms of driving purchase intent.

Research without call to action may be interesting, but in the end, not very useful.

This simple, intuitive gap analysis technique will provide a clear call to action in terms of identifying service behaviors and attributes which will yield the most ROI in terms of achieving your key objective of the customer experience.

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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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