This is part 2 of a 2 blog post series.

Why Companies Secret Shop

In our last article, Why Companies Secret Shop we discussed the question, “Why am I being paid money to secret shop and fill out a report?” This time, we discuss a closely-related question, “What are companies trying to improve through these reports?”

What are the building blocks of good service? Really, it varies from business to business. What may be a requirement for one business may be completely unnecessary for another, and this can happen even within the same industry. For example, one sandwich secret shop might be focused on making custom sandwiches and talking to their customers while they work. Another sandwich shop may be focused on making sandwiches as quickly as possible, which means that they don’t make many customizations and therefore don’t focus on talking to the customers. In the first example, chatting is the main aspect of their customer service. In the second example, speed and convenience are the main aspects of their customer service. This does not make one business superior to another – it just means that they are serving customers with different wants and needs.

There are, of course, some building blocks of customer service that are universal, regardless of what type of goods or services that businesses sell. They are things that all customers expect no matter where they are looking to spend their hard-earned money. With some variations, these building blocks will be measured on a majority of the secret shops that are performed, no matter what MSP provides the secret shop.

The Look

What an associate who nailed it would say: “Let me get this cleaned up!”

One of the first things that any customer notices when they walk into an establishment is how it looks. Looks are extremely important to a business – most places will make a location look a certain way on the inside and on the outside because a particular type of branding can completely change what types of customers shop there. For example, a high-end retailer would be more likely to use specialized interior design to draw in shoppers who are more likely to purchase their goods. A more traditional retailer might stick to basic interior design in order to keep their shoppers comfortable.

However, regardless of branding, design, or the size of a location, cleanliness is always necessary. If a customer walks into a dirty restaurant, they will walk right out. Keeping a business looking clean and orderly inside and out has a huge impact on how a customer views it. For this reason, a cleanliness check will be requested on almost every report that an MSP asks their secret shoppers to fill out, whether it is a quick checkbox as to whether the location is generally clean, or a more thorough inspection of the floors, tables, bathrooms, and other hotspots that need frequent cleaning.

The Greeting

What an associate who nailed it would say: “Welcome to ___!”

Another building block of customer service is, generally, being greeted when you walk into a store. More than anything, this shows that employees are attentive to their customers. Now greetings are, of course, a matter of personal preference. Some customers don’t want to be greeted by multiple people when they walk into a location. Because of this personal preference that can vary from customer to customer, different businesses will have different standards that they want their employees to follow when a customer enters their establishment. However, some form of acknowledgement is usually necessary, and will therefore appear on most scorecards.

One thing that you may notice is that on traditional customer surveys that are requested after a secret shop, nothing is asked about the greeting. That’s because most customers might not remember a little thing like that by the time they’re ready to fill out a survey. Secret shoppers, on the other hand, are being paid to be attentive to little details like that. Their observational skills help companies recognize when they might miss one or two of those small things that make all the difference!

The Offer of Service

What an associate who nailed it would say: “Can I help you?”

The main thing that people think of when they hear the phrase “customer service” is the traditional offer of help. This can come in all shapes and sizes – from the retail associate asking if they can help you find an item in their store, to the medical office receptionist asking if you have an appointment that day. Customers may not always want assistance, but it’s always nice to be asked. When you’re shopping, sometimes you might not even realize that you have a question for an associate until they offer to answer it!

Like the greeting, of course, the offer of assistance is a matter of personal preference for a customer and can vary from business to business. Some locations will have a scripted offer of help that must be followed to the letter, and other locations may be fine with a simple, “Can I help you?” A secret shopping report will usually ask you to quote the offer help and possibly the greeting, but again, this will vary from client to client.

The Offer of More

What an associate who nailed it would say: “Would you like to get this too?”

Anyone can offer help, of course. Instead of stopping there, a good salesman will try to see what else you need, apart from the item that you’re already getting. They will offer you something that you may not have thought of getting, like the traditional question, “Would you like fries with that?” If you didn’t order fries, it may pique your interest, and you might get them – and that one statement adds more to your purchase price, gives you something you realized you wanted, and gives a larger income to the client. If they don’t offer more, it’s a missed opportunity, plain and simple. And if they do offer more and the customer declines, the client loses nothing but the two seconds it took to ask that question. Most basic secret shopping scorecards will ask what types of items that good salesman offered, and the best secret shoppers will remember what those products or services were!

The Bottom Line – Matching your needs to THEIR products

What an associate who nailed it would say: “If you’re interested in ___, I’ve got a ___ for $$.”

Above, we mentioned that a good salesman would try to see what else you need, apart from the item you’re already getting. A master salesman will remember to close. The best customer service representative is one who provides the best value to the customer – and they do this by gathering information and meeting needs. They will ask you questions to find out what you’re looking for, what you’re using it for, and how much you want to spend. And then they will fit your needs to their product and help you get it out of the door and into your home as quickly and easily as possible.

And really, as a consumer, what more could you ask for? If you’re out shopping, you are trying to fill a need. Great customer service means that you will get the assistance to fill that need as quickly and in as pleasant manner as possible. In the end, this is what a secret shopping scorecard is asking! A good scorecard is there to break this overall experience into manageable, measurable bytes of data. It measures the seemingly intangible aspects of how the associates did (or did not!) fill your needs, and whether the experience was as pleasant as possible.

In the end, it’s all in the details. And we need those details from you, the secret shopper. By helping us measure these details, like the basics mentioned in this article, you give our clients ways to improve. And in the end, you help us to make the customer experience better and better.

Read Part 1 here: Why Companies Secret Shop – Part 1

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