The importance of the customer experience as a point of differentiation within the market is now well recognised. As a result it quite rightly has an increasing level of strategic focus placed upon it.
Customer satisfaction sits within the value profit chain – improve how satisfied your customers are and your sales will increase.
But what’s the best tool to measure customer experience and drive customer satisfaction – and what’s the role of Mystery Shopping in the value chain? Following a Leadership Factor seminar which offered an open, well-thought-out and honest debate about the merits of all the current metrics and tools available, I thought it was important to highlight how Mystery Shopping – often considered to be out of place in a world of ‘Big Data’ – fitted into the researcher’s toolbox.
Customer experience measurement tools are more prevalent across service industries than ever before and more regularly sit alongside other main business KPIs. This increased focus, and the growing accessibility of customer data ensures that Customer Experience research teams have a wealth of research tools to help them better understand the customer experience. The most well-known and regularly debated tools include Customer Satisfaction, NPS and Customer Effort. It also includes currently trending tools such as ‘sentiment analytics’ and personalised customer behaviour data.
The debate about the best tool to measure customer experience in order to improve customer satisfaction will continue. This debate will depend heavily upon an individual’s experience of working with specific tools; more importantly, it will depend upon what best meets the core objectives of their business and what is a best fit for their individual organisation. What we can conclude from this is that there is no ‘silver bullet’. If there was, there would be no debate. Each tool fits a purpose, and as often as not, the best result comes from a mix of approaches or methodologies.
How does Mystery Shopping act as a key customer experience measure?
Mystery Shopping, unlike many other tools, tells you not what customers might want or feel or how they react; it can tell you what actually happens in a service encounter. Every assessment completed offers a snapshot into service and each assessment helps an organisation build a picture of service levels over time. Once organisations have established what customers want and what the key drivers of customer satisfaction are, Mystery Shopping can be used to great effect to drive the desired operational change or improve compliance to operational standards.
Good Mystery Shopping programmes help the frontline, not just the Customer Insight or Research team, to understand what has been done well, what was missed and what action is needed to drive service improvements.
Successful Mystery Customer programmes monitor the company against the standards they would like to deliver; if the strategy is right then this will translate to improved satisfaction and profits.
Where does Mystery Shopping fit into the value profit chain?
It’s clear to me that Mystery Shopping feeds into and drives the value profit chain; it’s a vital tool that links the individual pieces. Operationally focused Mystery Shopping programmes can be used as a perfect platform to motivate, engage and excite employees. If you get this right, your employee engagement will improve. Happy employees will give a better customer experience, one that is in line with the desired service offer, which in turn will lead to more satisfied customers. More satisfied customers results in greater customer loyalty, increased market share and ultimately improve sales and profits for your company. It becomes a perfect circle of improvement from which you can reap continuous value.
Mystery Shopping is not there to tell organisations what customers want, but is there to help deliver the step change in service they need. Be it through service-focused, compliance-focused or promotional based programmes, Mystery Shopping is an invaluable tool that helps companies focus employee & stakeholder attention on what matters most – the customer.
Danielle Sones – Experience Director at ABa Quality Monitoring. ABa is the UK’s largest provider of bespoke mystery shopping and customer experience tools, helping clients achieve insight into and clarity of vision of the customer experience. Danielle has worked with ABa for over 13 years and has designed and implemented a multitude of successful mystery shopping and compliance programmes across a wide variety of industry sectors.