Growing Your Business – Mystery Shopping

Question: I am a new restaurateur, should I consider “mystery shopping” my business to gain insight into customer satisfaction?

Answer: The quick answer is yes, mystery shopping has benefits for you and your staff. However, there are several ways to address the question in adding mystery shopping to your quality program. What is mystery shopping? It is having someone shop your business as a typical customer and audit it against a set of defined expectations that will give you insight into how customers perceive their experience dining with you. So how do I entertain this metric?

  • Make a list of all the elements that are involved in making a positive, memorable customer experience. This list will be the audit outline the mystery shopper uses. In a restaurant it might be: (1) welcoming at the door, (2) honoring reservation times, (3) having the servers introducing them-selves before taking an order, (4) checking on continued satisfaction during the dinner without being intrusive. (5) Clearing the table after everyone is finished. There are others depending on your specific business model, but these might be a start.
  • Communicate to your employees that the restaurant is going to be “mystery shopped” sometime in the next few weeks. You don’t have to tell them when, but that it is going to be done so that it is not a surprise
  • Conduct some internal training so that employees are reminded of what makes a great customer experience.
  • Share the results of the mystery shopping with your staff – make it a learning experience for everyone involved – you and them
  • If there is an issue identified that is specific to one employee, then provide that feedback one- on-one so as not to embarrass them and making it a learning experience.

This same process can be used by retailers, as well as, restauranteurs. If you have telephone based business, you can also “mystery shop” it by having your shopper contact your internal sales personnel to address an issue and measure their performance. You might also consider – comment cards; email surveys sent after customer visits to your establishment or if a service after you have provided the service. Whether it be using a mystery shopper or some other feedback vehicle, your future customer satisfaction will be driven by how satisfied your current customers have been.

Source: MSNBC: Your Business

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