Information Rich, Execution Poor…Why Your Last Mystery Shopping Program Failed


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A solid mystery shopping program consists always of three components:

– Objective measurements
– Never a “gotcha” program
– Action, not just reporting

Often misunderstood and even more often not implemented correctly, mystery shopping are one of the most important tools you can use to measure, manage and improve the customer experience.

A few things you may or may not know. Mystery shopping is the only objective way to measure the customer experience. Why is that important?

Unlike customer surveys — which are great in their own right — mystery shopping measures what actually happened rather than measure what people felt happened. It’s much easier to improve performance when you have specific behaviors to focus on.

All too often, initiatives are used to benefit the executive suite and companies become information rich but execution poor. The wonderful thing about mystery shops is the information can be easily disseminated and cascade down from the corporate to the region to the district level — all the way down to the store level and even the associate within hours.

The most successful mystery shop programs are not “gotcha” in nature. Instead, they help us understand the difference between where the performance level is and where it needs to be. They create this whole process to help everyone to get from point A to point B collectively.

They are not so much motivation but rather, inspiration.

Too often, though, we see budgets allocated and approved for the mystery shopping program but little budget dedicated to helping improve performance. This is akin to buying a car but not spending anything on gas or insurance; buying a house but not paying the property taxes or going out to eat but not leaving enough in your wallet for a tip.

Without a follow up plan to act on the result of a mystery shopping program, it is destined for failure from the start. A solid mystery shopping program that includes execution at the end will help you avoid the common pitfalls most mystery shopping programs face.

David Rich
David Rich is President/CEO of ICC/Decision Services. He has contributed articles to or been cited professionally in Smart Money, Progressive Grocer, Fortune, Food Trade News, Quirk's, Store's and Inc Magazines. He is a past president of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) and an active member in National Association of Retail Marketing Services. David earned a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.


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