If you’ve had the same mystery shopping program for a while now, you may be in a rut. How can you tell? Here are some signs it may be time to change things up:
1. You’ve always focused on a specific timeframe or day of week for shops: Some clients prefer to have shops done during their “busy times” only, forgetting that the down times are just as important when it comes to customer service. If you’re only looking at one piece of the puzzle and haven’t changed it up in a while, you may be in a rut.
2. Scores are consistently coming back very high: while it’s great that employees are receiving high scores on the shops, it may also indicate that the program has gotten stale, and the employees have reached the bar OR have simply come to learn the shopper’s “routine” well enough to be able to spot them more easily and do well. This holds especially true for clients who tend to use the same “scenarios” or have the shoppers ask the same bank of questions of an employee time after time. It may also indicate that the bar needs to be raised and your staff needs to be challenged. You may be in a rut if you can relate to this.
If either applies to you, it’s time to change things up. Taking a look at the overall picture of your business is key; start mixing up days for shopping and time frames. Don’t just focus on the busy times – while you need to make sure that things are running smoothly during peak hours, making sure that employees are sticking to those same operational standards when it is slower is key.
Another thing to consider is to mix it up with your staff. Are you showing them the shopping reports soon after the shop has been completed? Any staff member working for you for a while will quickly learn that you shop your locations once a month, or twice a month, or whatever your schedule is. If you are shopping twice a month, for example, and employees see the reports soon after the shop, they’ll be less likely to “be on their toes” after the second shop has been seen. Unless there are some major issues that need to be addressed quickly, try not releasing the reports until the last day of the month. It will keep employees wondering and “on their toes” through the entire month.
Changing up the routine might help. While it’s important to evaluate the cleanliness of a restroom, for example, in some business types, this may be a tip off to staff that the person shopping is a mystery shopper. This especially holds true in businesses where restrooms are not often frequented. Remove that evaluation for a month or two to make the shoppers more anonymous. Do you require a knowledge question? Take out that requirement for a month and evaluate the scores – a decrease in performance percentages may indicate that this was a tip off to your staff and may give a truer picture of performance.
Mystery shopping is an extremely valuable tool to evaluate service standards – make sure your program is fresh and measures what you train for. Raising the bar on a regular basis will also encourage staff to continually do better, ultimately providing the best service experiences for your customers.