Everyone seems to confuse Mystery Shopping with Customer Service measurement. The typical Mystery Shop involves sending a pretend customer into a store, call centre or a website/app. They then evaluate different aspects of the service experience.

But measuring aspects of the service experience is NOT a measure of customer service.

Mystery Shopping takes measurements as often as once a month. You can’t measure customer service with one measurement in a month.

So – what is it?

Mystery Shopping is a measure of strategy execution. It’s a measure of whether the staff are doing what you need them to do. It’s a measure of operations.

If the operations are running well, then you can predict that you’re providing good service.

Let’s go back a step.

The Board and Executive team decide on a strategy. Management execute the strategy with tools such as staff training. But are staff implementing the strategy? Mystery Shopping shows the truth, the truth of whether the strategy is being executed at the front-line.

After all, if the strategy is not being implemented, then why have a strategy? And if you don’t know if it’s being implemented, you can’t answer that question.

Customer service measurement through Surveys and Net Promoter Score have their place, but you can’t only ask the customer.

We often hear clients say, “our surveys show good results, but we are unsatisfied with our service”.

You see, customers often have low expectations. A smile, speed, and a little knowledge is often enough to make them happy.

It may be OK for a customer to be greeted with a big broad smile and “G’day, howz it goin’ bud”. But that might not be good enough for you as a Brand. You might be trying to build something different – like a five star hotel.

The customer may tell you what’s comfortable, but not necessarily where you need to go. Only you can know that.

If you are trying to move your brand towards more speed, then asking customers if they got served quickly enough may not give the right answer. The customer might be happy to be served as fast as everyone else serves, but you may want to smash through the industry norm.

Customers mightn’t rate what you decide is critical.

It may be critical to you that staff capture contact details for a sales follow-up. But a customer will never rate this as being important. If it doesn’t happen, it would never enter their universe, and they may rate the service at 100%, but to the company, failing to get follow up details may constitute a total fail in service delivery.

Almost all companies insert process into the service chain which are invisible to the customer (so it seems seamless). The customer can’t judge the invisible.

And this is where you use Mystery Shopping.

With Mystery Shopping, you set the standards, and then measure precisely against them.

“How long did it take to be first greeted?”
“Did the staff member introduce themselves with their name when they greeted you?”
“Did the staff member ask for your contact details?”

Customers can be clouded by personality and product and price. They may be happy, but it’s not enough for you. You may want to raise the bar.

If you want to measure how the customer feels about the experience, then use Net Promotor Score, Surveys and Focus groups. If you want to measure whether you are executing your service strategy, then use Mystery Shopping. Don’t confuse them.