Mystery shopping programs are designed to measure operational standards to ensure that employees follow guidelines and expectations for providing an excellent customer experience. While starting in the traditional sense of onsite evaluations, where mystery shoppers were deployed to visit restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses to evaluate the experience, the programs have expanded over time to incorporate other customer service touch points, such as telephone and website evaluations.
One aspect that is still overlooked, but gaining traction in the mystery shopping world, is evaluating social media. How, you ask, can social media be evaluated?
Simple. It’s a known fact that social media sites are quickly becoming a channel for customer inquiries, complaints, suggestions, and praise. We are well past the time of businesses simply pushing out content and customers engaging, getting deals, and entering contests. Customers expect more from a company’s social media sites, and it’s a good idea, when planning for 2015, to incorporate social media into the mystery shopping mix.
This can be accomplished just as a typical mystery shop is executed. Shoppers will visit a company’s social media sites and pose a question or comment to track:
- Response time
- Method of response
- Employee knowledge
Direct and indirect communication can be evaluated, especially in instances when companies utilize social media monitoring programs. It is easy to identify social customer service issues through a solid monitoring program, but ensuring that the piece of communication is effectively shared with the appropriate staff, and is responded to in a timely manner, is just as important when evaluating the customer experience.
Ann Michaels & Associates recently published a press release highlighting this new component of mystery shopping. New services designed to incorporate social data, whether through direct mystery shopping or data integration into existing programs, were highlighted. As consumers become more demanding and expect strong service levels no matter where they choose to communicate, aligning your 2015 strategies to incorporate social media evaluations will be an important component to your program.