Mystery Shoppers for Every Organization

November 11, 2010

Yesterday I was talking to someone at a company where I used to work, managing their customer service teams and was pleased to learn that one of the programs I put in place there is still running with great success today.

You see, years ago I used to “mystery shop,” which usually meant going to Burger King or another retail chain and picking on a staff member with a specific request and watching how they coped with and handled the situation. I decided that we could do the same for our customer service. I set up 25 different scenarios, a variety of common and uncommon situations for our reps, and gradually put the team through every last one using fake email addresses (and even a student actor or two).

The exercise was designed to put agents under pressure. Sometimes I’d run a scenario even when an agent had ten customers waiting or a huge backlog of unassigned tickets. Mean? Yes. But boy, was it ever effective.

I learned pretty quickly what the strengths and weaknesses were for everyone on the team and immediately set about coaching each individual.

A few years on and the program is still being run on all new staff and there is an entirely new set of processes for current staff as a result of my mystery shopper initiative. Occasionally, management gets caught and called out as the “mystery shopper,”  but for the most part, no one knows that the somewhat difficult email or phone call they are fielding is from a mystery shopper testing their patience, knowledge, and service delivery.

How would this go in your business? Do you already mystery shop your service teams?

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