Why the questions you ask are critical to a successful Mystery Shopping program

Have you ever played the game ‘20 Questions’? Maybe you play it with your kids to get them off their devices on long car trips. To win the game, you have to ask questions to figure out what the other person is thinking. The better your questions, the better your chances of winning. 

A Mystery Shopping survey is much the same. You need to ask the right questions to get to the end results. What are the end results? It’s much better than winning a round of 20 Questions, let me assure you.

The end results from a Mystery Shopping survey is actionable data. This data shows you exactly what’s happening in your business: the good, the bad and everything in between. This data is knowledge and it gives you the power to make confident decisions quickly. 

Mystery Shopping allows you to see your business through your customers’ eyes. The Mystery Shopper has a list of questions, (the Mystery Shopping Survey) and they use this to measure your actual service against your customer service policy. These survey questions are critical to the success of the entire Mystery Shopping Program. 

Why are the survey questions so critical? 

  • They are the foundation of the company’s customer service policy and culture
  • They define the business and separate it from its competitors
  • They form the new employee expectations

Before a business can even consider which questions to include on their Mystery Shopping survey, they need to reflect on the business itself. How is the business different from its competitors? How will the customer service policy integrate with other areas of the business? What’s important to the customers? What are the most important things the business can focus on to deliver a stellar experience to all customers?

While most business owners should be able to easily map these questions out, we still see far too many poorly designed Mystery Shopping surveys. Here are the top 3 survey mistakes that can ruin a Mystery Shopping Program:

  1. Asking too many questions (keep it simple – focus on what’s important)
  2. Asking combined questions (one standard per question so the data can be graphed)
  3. Asking the wrong type of question (questions should be about the customer service)

As tempting as it may be to load up a Mystery Shopping Survey with an arsenal of questions to keep all department managers happy, a Mystery Shopping Survey needs to focus on the customer experience. It’s an evaluation of the service, not an Audit or a Franchisee Compliance report. When a Mystery Shopping survey is over complicated and stretched to include more questions than necessary, it compromises the integrity of the results. 

So, before you start measuring your customer service, take some time to map out your new standards and create the policy. These new standards must be aligned with your business’s values, they can’t be generic, off the shelf, or used by your competitors. It takes time to design effective Mystery Shopping survey questions. You don’t want to rush this important part of the program or be enticed by a Mystery Shopping Provider offering free design. When you’re ready to increase your sales and improve the customer service in your business, keep it simple and start with the basics. Focus on a few core customer culture values and recruit a reputable Mystery Shopping Provider to help you turn those into a fully-fledged program. 

Continue the customer service conversation.

If you’ve had enough of 20 Questions and you’re looking for another activity to get the kids off their devices, ask them to tell you about their favourite retailer or restaurant. Then ask them why and what makes them different. Their answers just might surprise you! After all, they are the customers of the future.

If you have customers, get out there and talk to them. Ask them why they do business with you, what they like, what they don’t like and what you could be doing better. Then incorporate their feedback into your customer service policy and get your Mystery Shopping program underway. 

However, if you are the customer and a business asks you for feedback, go ahead and give it to them! They are asking because they care and your feedback will help improve the experience for you and other customers alike.

At Above Benchmark, our Mystery Shopping programs are designed to improve customer service and increase sales. Our programs show our clients what’s happening in the business when they aren’t there. We evaluate customer service and analyse trends. The detailed reports identify employees who are delivering the standards so they can be recognised and rewarded while also identifying who requires more training. This is all achievable because we are incredibly passionate about getting the survey questions right. They are, after all, the foundation for the entire Mystery Shopping Program.